Customer Experience

How to strike the right balance between AI and live CX agents

If you’re a challenger brand, where CX should be a key differentiator, balancing artificial intelligence with human support is paramount. Here’s how to make the most of your people and your technology in the real world.
How to strike the right balance between AI and live CX agents

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Whether we’re talking about digital transformation, artificial intelligence (AI), or machine learning (ML), tech has become the great enabler for enterprises everywhere. At its best, technology allows us to maximize the parts of our jobs that excite and challenge us, and reduce or eliminate the tasks that bore us.

But when it comes to customer-facing roles, where do you draw the line? When do machines start doing more harm than good?

It’s a question facing customer experience (CX) teams and BPOs everywhere: After all, the goal is to resolve your customer challenges quickly, efficiently, and with minimal fuss. On paper, the more AI you have at your disposal, the smoother your CX should be.

If you’re a challenger brand, where CX should be a key differentiator, getting that balance right is paramount. Here’s how to make the most of your people and your technology in the real world.

Why total automation isn’t your friend

Chess Grandmaster Garry Kasparov noted that AI alone can never beat a human in the long run. But AI that’s paired with the right human? Unbeatable.

AI is consistent in ways that humans just aren’t. And at the same time, a machine can’t get close to matching human levels of creativity or empathy. The takeaway? AI can do important things, on repeat. But without the right people, it can’t do great things.

CX is no different. Full automation creates consistent experiences—just not necessarily the experiences you want to provide. Take interactive voice response (IVR). Used sparingly, it can be a useful tool for low-stakes, simple resolution matters (what’s my account balance?) that frees up agents to tackle stickier customer challenges.

Yet if you’re reading this, you’ve almost certainly had the maddening experience of being misheard, misdirected, and misled by an IVR—often for long periods of time. And by the time you do reach a customer service agent, you’re definitely not feeling satisfied or ready to promote the brand to your friends.

It’s a similar story for scripts. While not technically a machine-based process, it is another form of automation—one that allows (or forces) agents to override their own thinking, common sense, and creativity. The result is a CX function that’s robotic and inflexible.

Over-reliance on automation means CX agents and outsourcers defer to an entity that doesn’t necessarily sense a change in a person’s tone of voice, can’t make executive decisions, or empathize in a moment of difficulty.

And that’s the clincher. Empathy lies at the heart of the most difficult—and successful—customer interactions. It’s why CX is one process we can never fully automate.

Great CX needs a healthy dollop of humanity

Technology at its best is an enabler for people to do extraordinary work. When you combine great agents with useful tech, things fall into place—for your day-to-day, your wider strategic goals, and your customers.

For many businesses, customers face difficult challenges. Take financial services—a highly regulated, sometimes mistrusted industry that customers tend not to engage with unless there’s a problem. And if there’s a problem with your money, that’s inherently stressful.

If you’re a challenger fintech looking to capitalize on customer dissatisfaction with institutional banks, it’s vital to undo this narrative—and the answer lies with your people.

The best CX functions train agents to handle complex problems that involve high stress, uncertainty, and customer frustration. They empower agents to share learnings across the service center, recommend improvements, and take the initiative to make decisions beyond any script.

It’s a similar story in healthcare. Customer service centers handle calls fraught with emotion, distress, and under intense time pressure. How can service agents breed a sense of responsibility and duty to each customer? Can each agent assume ownership of several customer relationships, so there’s a familiar voice on the other end of the line?

Outstanding customer service is driven by outstanding customer service agents. And outstanding customer service agents need the tools to consistently provide value to your customers. And now there’s a way to do that, on repeat.

The best of both worlds

We help financial services, healthcare, and e-commerce challenger brands serve their customers better, with fewer errors, and benefit from faster dispute resolution while building loyalty, Net Promoter Scores, and overall customer satisfaction.

And it starts by combining the right people with the right tech. Our proprietary training process helps agents manage every CX challenge and deal effectively across the front, mid and back-office—while implementing and honing data-driven solutions.

It’s what allows challenger brands like yours to unlock a greater Return on Outsourcing; increasing lifetime customer value while cutting cost to serve.

Brands that see CX as more than box-ticking exercise … Who know CX can be a growth-driver instead of a cost-center. Who understand the difference between plain ol’ satisfactory and jaw-dropping customer experiences.

Technology can play a key role in supporting agents to do great work for your customers.

We’d love to help you get that balance right.

Outsource with confidence

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