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10933_AI_BusiSch_Aileen_Allkins_FINAL_v3

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[AI Business School] [Discover ways to foster an AI-ready culture in your business Discover how to foster an AI-ready culture in customer service] [How are customer expectations for support changing?] >>Aileen: Support has evolved enormously in the years that I've been involved in this space. [Aileen Allkins | Microsoft, Corporate Vice President, Customer Service & Support] First of all, customer expectations are continuously growing higher and higher every year. And I think that comes from we are all now setting the bar for each other. When you receive great service from one company, that becomes the bar that you expect from the next company. There are many more channels, more ways of connecting with a customer. When I started my career, it was pretty much by phone. And then, of course, it's evolved over the years. We have in-app support, we have social media, we have virtual agents, we have phone, we have email, we have chat. There are many, many different ways of supporting customers. And their expectations are changing to be much more instant. They want answers way faster than they ever really expected to have answers in the past. Also, of course, our customers are becoming much more knowledgeable. As IT becomes more pervasive, they are much more familiar with the technology. Again, their competency is increasing, which means ours continuously has to increase, as well. Customers, of course, are able to switch providers a lot easier than they used to be, also. And again, that level of service starts to become a competitive differentiator. They love the product, but if they don't love the service they get when they have challenges with the product, it can be a cause for customers to decide to move elsewhere. Their decisions on where they place their loyalties are much more fluid than they used to be. [What are some ways your organization is using AI?] There are two main areas where we've applied AI to empower our employees. The first one is we've actually created tools that will assist our employees whilst they're preparing to help a customer during a support call. For example, our virtual agent will provide our real people with a conversation history. [Use AI to prepare agents for virtual calls with customers.] Let's say a customer has actually started their conversation with a virtual agent, but then requested to be handed over to a real person. The virtual agent assists our engineers by sharing with them that whole interaction that's already taken place. The other thing is our AI solutions can run in the background, and can offer suggestions to our support engineers, based on the conversation that they can see is taking place, and predict what the issue is that the customer might be experiencing. And this is the thing that our engineers and agents have learned how to trust the information that the virtual agent and our AI technology has actually given them. The second way that we've applied it is to help us understand customer sentiment. We've identified what we call several connection points. [Use AI to identify customer sentiment throughout their journey] And connection points are things that we do that drive high positive customer sentiment. We've been able to use AI to understand what it is in our interactions with customers that's driving positive sentiment and negative sentiment. We're using that to give our engineers and our agents almost live feedback to say, "As a result of this interaction, this drove positive sentiment, or this drove negative sentiment." It gives us real-live coaching opportunities to happen almost in the moment. Again, using the technology to assist our people to learn more how to better serve our customers. [What lessons did you learn in the process of creating an AI-ready culture?] From a cultural perspective, I think there were two main lessons that I learned, and that I think are really important to consider. The first one is around our people, and the trust that they have to have that AI is not going to replace their jobs. It's really about how it's going to augment their skills and abilities to serve our customers well. I remember when we were first talking about introducing a virtual agent, we talked a lot about how it was going to enable us to move a lot of our customer interactions to AI. And that that would free up our people to enable them to provide higher level of services of more value to our customers. What I underestimated was how many times you have to repeat that, and had to really build trust within the organization that that was a true statement, and this really wasn't about job elimination. I think one big cultural aspect is building that trust up front that AI actually can help our people help our customers more effectively. I think the second big thing from a cultural perspective is always trying to remember to put yourself in the customer's shoes, and think about that this is really about serving our customers better. An example of that is thinking about how our customers want to be served. Not every customer wants to be served through a virtual agent. So it's finding ways of serving them in the way that they want to be served, where they want to be served from. Just to give a further example of that, if we have support available through our website, not all customers want to come out of their application to go to the support website, to then speak to a virtual agent, to then get connected to a real agent. Some of them, whilst they're using the product, want to go directly to get assistance from there. Putting yourself in the customer's shoes, thinking about how they want to experience support, again, is part of the cultural transformation that we really need to go through. [How is AI helping your team be more customer-centric?] One of the things that we're doing with AI in support has been to create a voice of the customer solutions. We're using machine learning to analyze the sentiment from our customers' interactions with us. Not only in the feedback that they give us, but also in the whole chat that we're having with them. What we're learning is that some customers actually really enjoy using, for example, the virtual agent. And we get high degrees of satisfaction there when we provide a solution. When we can't provide a solution through our virtual agent, of course, they're not so happy, and we get low levels of satisfaction. And that's enabled us, again, to identify that at that point where we can't provide the solution, that break point, how we transition it to a real person, and provide a seamless experience, is absolutely critical to us. We have also learned that some customers actually don't want to use a virtual agent. They do want to speak to real people from the beginning. And that's why one of things, as we said earlier, we need to do is always put ourselves in the customer's shoes, and think about what support experience they want to have, not necessarily the experience that we want to give them.

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Posted by: csintl on Jun 18, 2019

10933_AI_BusiSch_Aileen_Allkins_FINAL_v3

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