Which is better: machines or humans? We’ve seen the debate for years. When it comes to customer service, there are strong opinions for each.
On one hand, automated systems can handle an unlimited number of customers at once, resulting in less time wasted and lower operational costs. On the other hand, humans can elevate customer satisfaction by bypassing business rules and emotionally supporting customers.
But why does it have to be an either-or?
Is there a third option?
There sure is. While humans and AI each have individual strengths, they can work together for the most desirable outcome. In fact, a report from Harvard Business Review found that brands achieve the most performance improvements in this scenario– when humans and machines work together.
And there isn’t just one way to go about it. Humans and AI can be combined in many ways to achieve optimal performance results, depending on the unique needs of the industry and the company.
When technology alone fails…
But even the combination of humans and AI can fail. Let’s look at an example.
Traditional automation systems, like IVRs, often open calls for brands before passing off to a human agent. While this does reduce the initial wait time, the technology is not sophisticated enough to add value to the interaction. Instead, it acts as a glorified redirect where the customer will still have to wait.
Or, if there are self-service options but without proper intent recognition and understanding, customers can become extremely frustrated by not being able to actually complete tasks, or having to adapt to robotic and unnatural language.
In these cases, we can see that technology and self-service doesn’t always meet the expectations of customers. Why? Without proper integration with human intelligence, even the best technology can feel robotic and clunky.
Fortunately, recognizing this has changed the game. In the past few years, contact center technology has reached a place where it is possible to have self-service that does understand intent and can deliver a conversational experience. But that’s not the only way that humans and AI can join forces
Technology can be used to deliver self-service, support the agent, or create a seamless interaction between the two.
Here are three ways that humans can work together with AI for the best customer experience:
Training and tuning of AI models
There are two ways that humans train and tune models: in real-time and after the fact.
In real time, like in our Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVA), the AI models are assisted in the moment for optimal customer experience. We have patented this unique behavior as Adaptive UnderstandingTM. The humans behind the scene, also called Intent Analysts, never communicate with the customers and only get triggered when AI has a low confidence score. This real-time engagement happens in the blink of an eye, and is unseen by end customers. Therefore, humans can help AI deliver better results, securely, without the transaction being completely transferred over to an agent.
After the fact, humans can annotate, tag, and label data to train and power AI algorithms. The relevancy and sophistication of any AI system heavily relies on the quality of the data provided to it. When such annotated and labeled datasets are fed to AI systems, it’s easier for the algorithms to correctly identify the data and learn from it. This improves the accuracy of the Conversational AI so that more customers can be supported through self-service.
Warm handoff to live agent
Earlier in the blog we talked about how traditional automation systems simply act as a directing service. A warm handoff is different from this. Instead of simply directing customers to a live agent, they first complete a relevant data-collection. Sometimes, the system concludes that the request can be handled through self-service. In that case, the customer never needs to be transferred to an agent. But in the case that the customer does need to be transferred, the Conversational AI application prompts the live agent with the collected information, therefore saving the customer from having to repeat themselves again. This also saves time for the agents, so they are able to help more customers.
Last but not least is agent assist. In this category, the customer is speaking solely to an agent, but the agent is being directly supported by the AI system. By reducing agent effort of having to dig through information and business rules, the AI provides relevant information by inferring what the customer is asking for. Agents will be able to help more customers with less effort, and customers will be served at a faster rate.
As humans and technology become more integrated in the contact center, customer experience will improve. However, companies must keep in mind that this integration must be approached holistically, with the customer in mind, in order for it to be successful. Learn more about how humans and agents can work together in this eBook.