Deploying AI for CX – Clearing the Fog

Scott Smith

Senior Vice President, Sales
, Altiam CX
March 28, 2024
min read

We’ve reached a moment where everyone in the CX industry is thinking about generative AI and its huge potential to do something positive for their business. There are so many chat bots used by CX providers that it's very rare to find a brand that does not have a chat bot deployed somewhere on their website. It is not hard to imagine that this is more a matter of matching competitors than realizing the promise of helping the business improve. The mere presence of bots does not automatically mean they are being used strategically. The challenge is that few companies have a comprehensive AI strategy, and most do not even use performance metrics adequately to measure their success.  

Communicating the ‘why’ about automation is essential

Going back to our bots example, more often than not companies are being transparent about whether their customers are interacting with an automated system or a real human. That is extremely important. People need to know where they stand and the purpose of the tool or the system that they're interacting with. There is great potential for improving a customer’s experience with a helpful bot, but there is also an inherent risk.  On one hand, I think most consumers are happy if they see that the brand that they're interacting with is investing in technology and solutions that are trying to help them have a good experience. But if a customer is using a system and feels like they're being tricked, then loyalty gets turned on its head and they no longer feel like the company is investing in them. The perception that a company is simply trying to reduce costs is a disaster for customer relationships and loyalty.

Metrics determining AI success

Performance metrics are still being standardized by the CX industry to assess the effectiveness of a comprehensive AI strategy.  We understand that success can be determined by improving the rate at which an AI solution can resolve an issue without the customer having to then talk to a human. At a basic level, this describes the metric, “Containment Rate.” At its core, containment rates are sort of the holy grail and really the easiest way for companies to see the ROI from their investment in an AI solution. Of course that oversimplifies many scenarios. In a lot of cases, AI solutions are assisting agents so that customers experience shorter interaction times, or better experiences when interacting with a more effective and better prepared human.  

Be strategic, not tactical, about AI solution choices

The conundrum lies in approaching Generative AI strategically rather than tactically. A tactical goal may be to simply replace humans, resolve questions, and then send customers on their way. These companies are really missing the point, because the real AI value lies in doing a better job of engaging a customer in the brand experience that you're trying to provide. By employing the significant nuance of many AI systems (often referred to as sentiment analysis) you can connect with your customers in a relevant and meaningful way. When Generative AI is most effective, you can also incorporate knowledge about the customer from previous interactions to deliver a personalized and meaningful experience. This demonstrates your company's commitment to know and care for your customers, not simply to reduce costs.  

AI needs to support transformational change

Many people are talking a lot about the contrast between digital transition, where organizations are just using digital tools to do the same thing but a little bit differently, as opposed to a digital transformation that changes operations, and helps you take a leap forward in how you achieve your business results. Clients are just beginning to understand this difference. Talking more about bots--what we see a lot right now is that companies are deploying chat bots somewhere on their website because they think they have to, because they don't want to be caught not doing the new thing. Often, the chatbot is only doing a little bit more than a simple search engine could do. So, it's providing an experience, a customer experience that's maybe just a little bit better than a basic Google search. While this is okay, it's really missing the opportunity to have a much larger impact. Increasingly what companies are going to find is that by thinking about digital transformation more comprehensively and thinking about how they can deploy these technologies along with humans and to enhance how you are interacting with your customers. That creates an opportunity for you to completely transform the customer experience and really drive deeper levels of loyalty and higher sales.

How Altiam CX approaches AI

Altiam CX is in a unique position to help brands figure out the optimal way to use Generative AI, in three distinctive ways. First, we're a small and nimble CX provider that can deliver any size and any type of service. Second, our sister company, Altiam Digital, is made up of digital technology experts who oversee our own cloud infrastructure that allows us to develop and host solutions, do A/B testing, etc. That means we can cover the spectrum of hands-on technical assistance that our clients need. Third, we've developed a partnership ecosystem with technology providers with whom we can quickly identify and deploy the best solutions to deliver significant business impact. For brands thinking about getting started with Generative AI, we can provide a baseline assessment of a company's current processes and develop a plan within days, which will eliminate weeks or even months of due diligence and ROI planning. And in many cases, we can do this free of charge.

Even better, this applies to companies that already have an AI solution or those that want to explore starting an AI journey. We can plug in wherever a company is in their AI lifecycle. We're seeing companies that have deployed AI solutions that are not fully optimized and they're not delivering on their promise. And that's a perfect point for us to engage, do a baseline assessment, and come up with a plan to maximize the potential of their overall solution.

How Altiam CX differs from other providers is that we have hands-on professionals who can not only take you through an assessment and consultative process but can be the tiger team that comes in and sets up your technology and your solution. Essentially, we can plug in at any level that a company needs, including hosting the technology and testing in our own environment, if that's the right fit. In terms of timeframe, this may be as simple as helping a company choose an AI technology and a solution and get it up and running, or it could be a multi-year engagement where we're backstopping that technology with humans and optimizing it over time.  

AI in action

For one of our existing clients, we reviewed a specific application that provided significant opportunity for AI assistance. We did an evaluation and found three or four use cases where an automated solution could easily resolve issues that agents are handling today. That’s just one small process for one of our clients. The potential across our growing client base is enormous and something we are just starting to tap into. Even more important, the potential benefit for clients is that AI lends itself to the incorporation of vital processes like verification and authentication, so that clients feel even more assurance that their internal processes work professionally and create less risk for everyone involved.  

Generative AI is simply a powerful tool that can be added to every company’s arsenal, to help them do their work better, faster, and safer. Lastly, a positive ramification is that there simply are not enough people to do certain kinds of jobs anymore, and AI is making it possible for companies to take up that slack and achieve the potential of business.

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