Retail Companies Need to Balance People and Bots

Justin Robbins discusses how human and Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be combined in the contact centre.

One of the greatest stumbling blocks for organisations is the transition from an AI-based interaction to live agent assistance.

When done poorly, the effects ripple across both the customer and agent experience.  But when the right balance is achieved, and the two systems work in harmony, both the agent and the customer experience are elevated.

It’s important to thoughtfully consider the customer’s journey, in its entirety, and design the transitions with that full experience in mind.

An example of such a balance is often seen in bespoke retail purchase experiences:

1. Retailers create an AI-powered self-service portal that collects important customer data and preference information. This is often the first touchpoint.

2. Customers receive informational emails, a proactive outreach, and a personalised quote based on their preferences. The agent is well informed and appropriately positioned to deliver a level of service that is best left unautomated.

3. Through the remainder of the experience, documents are shared (and signed) digitally, updates frequently occur through an app or another self-service channel, but the assigned agent provides care – and an offer of accessibility – throughout the experience.

Ensuring that the human touch is delivered well requires an understanding of your agent’s expectations.

At the most basic level, agents want clearly defined expectations that make sense and aren’t designed to burn them out. They also want to have the tools, resources, and training to perform their job to expectations.

This means two fundamental things in relation to AI:

1. Agents want AI systems to handle the repetitive tasks that may otherwise burn them out. They also need to know that they can always trust the AI systems to have the most accurate, up-to-date information.

2. Agents need context and visibility into the customer’s journey. Additionally, they genuinely want to help their customers, but can’t do it if their systems are disconnected and inefficient. If customers can’t seamlessly move from AI to assisted-service, it’s the agents who face the adversity and angst of overcoming technological and process shortcomings. That just further drives their frustration, dissatisfaction, and lack of engagement.

Through powerful integrations with intelligent technologies, companies can combat this by enabling contact centres to powerfully integrate and inform the customer journey.

Using natural language processing to interact and understand human conversation, and seamlessly transferring conversations to a live agent, the right AI engine provides full context to the agent.

Justin Robbins

Justin Robbins

For this reason, it’s important for contact centres to partner with an AI technology partner who realises that AI must rise to a new level and is able to power everything from purchases to customer support with AI-powered technology.

While there isn’t a cookie-cutter approach to AI, organisations that thoughtfully consider the needs of their customers and employees, that understand the various touchpoints of the customer journey and that are willing to refine and finesse as they move along, will find themselves getting closer and closer to the best blend of AI and live agents for their unique contact centre situation.

This blog post comes courtesy of IFS | mplsystems. To find out more about the company, visit:

Published On: 6th Jul 2018 - Last modified: 10th Jul 2018
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