Mariano Mantel

The Case For CX Automation And The Future of CX

I was speaking today at the #XChange2018 conference in Moscow, an event hosted by Teleperformance Russia. It was a fantastic privilege to be speaking in Russia during my first ever visit, although it’s a shame that we are about two months after the World Cup finished with that amazing victory for France!

My talk was about automation and the case for exploring automation in a customer service strategy. There is a great opportunity for tools such as chat bots to answer basic customer service questions, which can deflect calls that otherwise would have required a human agent inside the contact centre, but there are many dangers in over-deploying these technologies. Great care and planning is required to get the balance right.

One big mistake is when chat bots are deployed and the customer has a question that is simple, but hard to explain to a bot. Perhaps something like, I’m locked out of my account and you are trying to text me an authorisation code, but you have an old phone number, so how can I reset my access? That’s a simple question to a human, but it’s something that a bot would struggle with. Many chatbot systems don’t allow the customer to easily say ‘just take me to a human agent’ and that’s a big mistake because it makes the experience stressful if most of the focus is the customer just asking ‘how do I get to speak to someone?’

Another consideration is all the missed opportunities for cross-selling and upselling that could take place if a human agent was empathetically handling those customers – even on basic enquiries. Care needs to be taken because you can reduce the cost of handling customer contact and miss out on an enormous number of sales opportunities.

Sometimes a chatbot is the right solution though. For simple questions they work well and they are getting better. In some types of customer interaction, customers often prefer speaking to a bot – the collections industry is a good example. Throughout my presentation I talked about the case for automation, but in a planned way. There are many pitfalls that can reduce the quality of the customer experience if you don’t plan all the way from an initial assessment of what your customer needs to a transformation of how you are handling engagement.

It was great to also watch Stephen Loynd from Frost & Sullivan with his ‘postcard from the future’, an exploration of the future of CX. Stephen is the global director of customer contact for F&S and therefore he is constantly on the road exploring how different organisations are engaging with their customers.

In his talk, Stephen said we should think beyond all the emerging technologies that fill the pages of the business press. It’s not Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality, and Robotic Process Automation themselves that is important, it is the business transformation that these emerging digital technologies enable that will really shape the business of the future.

Stephen talked about the multi-dimensional nature of digital transformation. Instead of thinking how your current business might be changed by AI, you need to think about the geographies where you operate, the industries, business functions, the disruptive technologies, and a wave of new business models – how will all of these change or influence what you are doing today?

Stephen talked about the fundamental shifts in how business will operate in the near future. For example, people talk about the Internet of Things without often talking about the sheer scale of it. He predicted that there will be over 80 billion connected devices by 2020 – that’s only just over a year away and it means that we are talking about a dozen devices connected to the Internet for every single person alive on the planet today. Are you already thinking about how this might change the way your business engages with customers?

What really interested me was how Stephen talked about the crossover between the IT industry and customer experience. About a third of all investment in IT from 2017-2019 has been, or will be, driven by a need to improve CX. That’s astonishing. All these emerging technologies that are changing the way brands interact with their customers are actually being funded by a desire to improve CX.

The key area that Stephen highlighted as critical for executives to be focusing on now was data analysis and AI – in particular the automation of data analysis through the use of AI. I can immediately see how these technologies can be used by brands to understand customers better. Just imagine if a retailer has data on a customer including all their purchases, likes, dislikes, everything they ever browsed, everything they ever shared with friends, and the times they like to shop. With automated analytics the brand can make really intelligent interventions the next time the customer is shopping. This data analysis is crucial for personalising customer interactions.

I’d like to thank Stephen for his fantastic insights and the team at Teleperformance Russia. It was a great event here in Moscow today and they really did an excellent job of giving us insights from experts like Stephen as well as major brands such as Porsche and Samsung.

Moscow photo by Mariano Mantel licensed under Creative Commons.