Biggest AI myths in customer experience

It is estimated that by 2026 over 80 per cent of organisations will use generative AI APIs, but there are a lot of myths about its potential, says CTO Robert Mansfield

2023 was truly the year of AI, and specifically generative AI, in customer experience (CX). These technologies has been a game-changer, with advancements in efficiency, hyper-personalised experiences and overall customer satisfaction. It is estimated that by 2026, over 80 per cent of organisations will use generative AI APIs, or deploy GenAI-enabled applications.

As with any new technology, however, misconceptions are easily spread and can disguise the true potential of GenAI within CX. Here, we break down the top three AI CX myths circulating right now.

#1 – Robots will overtake humans in CX

Early critics of AI have long prophesied that AI will take human jobs. However, agents working with AI can improve CX. Just as the tractor didn’t eliminate farmers, and Microsoft Word didn’t eliminate writers, the introduction of AI in CX can increase the productivity of agents, broadening their skill set, reducing training times and giving the organisation a competitive advantage. It has been forecasted that GenAI tools implemented correctly will create an estimated performance improvement of up to 35 per cent in contact centres, with greater productivity gains for more novice employees.

Rather than waiting to be put through to a human agent, customers are greeted by streamlined processes that utilise AI to determine the reason for contact, whether through voice or digital channels, and direct them to the most appropriate available agent. When integrated with a customer data platform (CDP), this process is also able to prepare the agent with information about the customer, such as previous interactions, which helps to reduce the average handling time (AHT).

Even after an interaction, admin-heavy post-interaction wrap-ups can be streamlined using GenAI; automatically summarising the interaction, analysing sentiment and populating forms and databases with relevant updates. This reduces after-call work time, freeing up agents to focus on delivering great CX.

#2 – AI will provide the right answer, every time

Recent months have seen numerous examples of chatbots going rogue and tarnishing the reputation of the organisations that implemented them. From incorrect refund policies costing a Canadian airline hundreds of dollars to a parcel delivery firm swearing at customers, GenAI is not ready to take off the training wheels just yet. Large language models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT are subject to hallucinations which, without safeguards, could negatively impact the customer experience. Customers would quickly lose patience with brands if they were misled during interactions. A tool that should vastly improve first-contact resolution could achieve the opposite, with customers needing further support to correct previous mistakes.

That said, it is possible to reduce the likelihood of egregious chatbot errors through appropriate optimisation techniques. Chatbots can be enhanced for the kind of tasks they will need to perform, using a combination of grounding, prompt engineering, fine-tuning of existing LLMs and representation engineering to provide more accurate responses tailored to the use-case. It isn’t there to make up poetry or embarrass your brand in response to malicious user-generated ‘training questions’.

#3 – Brands will swiftly transfer to end-to-end AI CX as soon as possible

The implementation of AI in CX should be a gradual process. If phase one of AI development was to streamline communications before, during and after interactions, future phases should focus on expanding the scope of the contact centre, encompassing more traditionally back-office and professional roles and creating a hub for communications, relationship building and data orchestration.

Organisations that choose end-to-end AI for CX during these early stages are likely to be caught out by imperfections in the technology and put their brand’s reputation at the mercy of volatile AI start-ups and unproven, unregulated, and inadequately vetted systems. For this reason, Gartner has argued that it is too risky, expensive, and difficult, to completely replace all human-facing interactions with AI-enabled chatbots, and anticipates that the EU could mandate the “right to talk to a human” as part of consumer protection laws as early as 2028.

Organisations looking to invest in the productivity benefits of AI in CX should instead look to integrate AI-based applications piece by piece, from established providers well-versed in intelligent automation. This protects the rest of the contact centre, and the overall reputation of the brand, while allowing them to improve the processes that are most appropriate to their business.

Navigating the AI terrain

These myths are a testament to the lack of consensus on AI, with many voices warning against, or advocating for, increased use of AI in CX. Looking past the misinformation and striking the right balance between AI-automated processes and human-led interactions is important to maintaining first-class CX while benefitting from increased productivity. Embracing intelligent automation, under the guidance of reputable CCaaS vendors, helps to ensure a seamless and effective CX transformation while minimising the risks.

Robert Mansfield is CTO of Content Guru.

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