The best approach to AI assistants and process automation for your business

Artificial intelligence (AI) has made important strides in transforming business practices and processes across a wide range of sectors, by helping organisations streamline operations, manage risk and reduce costs. This is especially true when it comes to critical activities such as marketing, customer service and sales, which have been identified by Forbes as the top three areas that AI can enhance business growth.

Thanks to AI, we are now seeing a proliferation of digital assistants, also known as predictive chatbots. These are application programs that not only understand natural language voice commands, but can also simulate a conversation with users and complete tasks on their behalf. Using AI and machine learning, combined with a user’s history, preferences, and other information, they can respond to difficult questions, make recommendations, and even start conversations.

Together AI and digital assistants can transform a business, enabling not only the automation of costly and time-consuming processes, but also delivering first class customer experiences. Employees are also set free from mundane tasks, so can dedicate their efforts to other areas of the organisation, where they are needed more urgently.

For any organisation looking to secure the business benefits that such technology can offer, is essential to ensure it is done so in in a manner that results in minimum disruption to your operations and customers, as well as ensuring the greatest return on investment.

Successfully integrating AI assistants and process automation into a business can be a complex undertaking, and often requires expert planning to get right. For example, have employees been properly instructed in the use of the new tech and do they understand how it will benefit them, so they are invested in its successful integration.

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Digital assistants

For firms to harness the full potential of AI assistants and process automation, an effective approach is to consider how closely the two are intertwined. We’ve seen from experience that one of the most effective and logical methods of implementing AI and automation is to introduce digital assistants into their existing customer services, where they can be used to capture and create a log of conversations.

Presently, many companies’ customer services are constrained by the availability of their employees to man phonelines or speak to customers in person, which can be a challenge outside of normal working hours. Digital assistants help to remove the customer services gap by offering a 24/7 solution with which consumers can share their questions and issues whenever they need to, safe in the knowledge that the enquiry will be logged and prioritised accordingly.

This is not to suggest that digital assistants should be viewed as a replacement to human engagement with customers – a survey conducted by Dutch tech firm Usabilla found that 55% of people still like to speak with a human customer service agent on the phone.

However, the same survey discovered that 54% of customers will always choose to speak to a digital assistant rather than a human customer services rep if it saves 10 minutes of their time, showing the appetite among consumers for firms to provide alternative methods of contacting them, besides the traditional phone call.

Process automation

This is where the process automation element comes in. By capturing and examining all the customer conversations that happen across your organisation, you can quickly understand which ones are the high volume, by looking at the processes that sit behind these high-volume conversations you will quickly get a picture of which ones are high in volume and low in complexity, and will therefore be ripe for some easy wins.

In addition to the time this could save for customers and employees alike, it is also likely to save firms money and actually boost customer satisfaction levels, given that there needs can be addressed with efficiently with the appropriate level of attention i.e. human or AI.

Successful process automation requires not just smart thinking, but also taking the optimal journey between automating process and customer service, employing customer analysis to guide what conversations need automating with your assistant, and what processes to automate behind those conversations. This will also enable staff to be reassigned so they can maximise the use of their time and ultimately achieve business growth as a result.

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Start small and win big

No longer should utilising AI to enhance customer services and generate process automation be seen as an approach to be taken only by the very largest consumer brands – in years to come, such a strategy is likely to become commonplace for organisations of all sizes and types.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shone a light on the need for businesses to embrace emerging technologies that can help mitigate the impact of any future disruption on their day-to-day operations, with customer service being a key part of this for many.

Taking the right approach to implementing digital assistants into their existing offering will enable firms to push customer services further than ever before, leading to shorter waiting times and faster outcomes for customers, thereby providing them with a and more positive and impactful experience overall.

Remember that automating a business is a journey… there are some easy wins, and some that will take a little longer. If you try and do everything at once, this can cause your projects to stall and your automation journey to become slow and unwieldy. Instead take time to ascertain what it is you want to achieve and the right path to get there. Ultimately, start off easy achievable wins and work from there. That is the best way to deliver the most value to customers and instil confidence in your employees about the technology and the process.

Written by Lee Morris, chief commercial officer at askporter

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