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Predictions 2018: Blended AI will disrupt customer service and sales strategies

The promise of artificial intelligence has permeated across the enterprise giving hopes of amping up automation, enriching insights, streamlining processes, augmenting workers, and in many ways making our lives as consumers, employees, and customers a whole lot better. Senior management salivates over the exponential gains AI is supposed to deliver to their business. Kumbayah moments occur in meeting rooms as teams begin planning cycles that embed AI technologies in their strategic plans.

But here’s the half empty: AI requires a lot more resources than most people think. It is not a “set it and forget it” technology. The reality is models are constantly tuned and optimized manually especially for customer engagement where natural language is a foundational.

To put it into context, AI is in the toddler phase when it comes to maturity level. But it’s growing fast as more ontologies are built, vector space models improve, and companies operationalize AI by using a broader workforce to conduct the tagging of customer interactions — called blended AI.

A growing number of companies are using blended AI for customer-facing channels and sales tools. Today, Forrester released its 2018 predictions covering the impact AI will make in sales and service, and we believe that the effective use of blended AI will help improve sales outcomes and reduce customer servicing costs. But there are implications.

In 2018, we predict that:

  • Customer satisfaction levels will drop as companies drive more traffic to chatbots, self-service, and chat that are not fully optimized to engage customers effectively. As companies look to increase customer engagement on digital lofty goals are being set particularly in the area of call deflection. Some companies have goals of decreasing call volumes by more than 50% in just under two years.
  • More major brands will phase out email in favor of real-time customer-agent communications like chatbots and chat. Companies like Nike, Apple, Uber, Toys“R”Us, and Target have moved away from actively supporting email as a customer service contact channel.
  • Having a successful AI-driven customer service or sales program will depend on the processes that support a blended AI approach. Humans will play a critical role in the ongoing optimization of AI.

Will your company be prepared for the coming revolution of AI?

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