By Gautam Borah, VP Customer Operation, Vodafone, Author of the book Monetising Innovation
Recently, I have gleaned few interesting insights from unanticipated diverse sources. First, is this conversation which is supposed to be a negotiation between two robots in Facebook..
Bob: i can ii everything else . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Alice: balls have zero to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to me to
The seemingly bizarre conversation, however, as experts opined followed some rules and used codes crafted by the robots themselves.
Incident like this and like the ones where robot Sofia expresses her desire to destroy human are indicators of research and progress made in the use of Artificial intelligence and Automated Technologies. It is just harbinger of the fact that, large percentage of organizations will look up to AI in the coming few years.
So, what is in horizon for Customer Experience (CX) Management with onrush of AI as a game changer? How are organizations gearing up for the challenge? Are they on the right track?
And, this is what reminds me exactly of Klondike Gold Rush.
Klondike Gold Rush of AI
During 1896 to 1899, more than 100,000 prospectors stampeded to Klondike region of Yukon in Canada when gold reported to be discovered in the region. Implementation of AI or automation seems to be quite similar to something like this, a perceived panacea to all customer problems.
A scan of the current status of AI for CX reveals the following: There is a Gold Rush to implement AI / Automation
An Oracle study confirms that Chatbots, almost a current synonym for AI for CX has been implemented by 36 percent of the brands and this will jump to 80 percent by 2020. Other Automation Technologies considered to impact CX maximum are already in place in 48% of the respondents and it will accelerate to 88 percent by 2020.
A Skill-Gap is emerging
Due to the automation, there is a skill mismatch emerging which will only widen. According to Mckinsey, quantum of mismatch will be proportionate to deployment of AI.
Following graph is an illustration.
The inherent expectation of use of technology is reduction of customer complaints. However, a glance at the industry data doesn’t corroborate this hypothesis. Following two illustrations of Customer contacts for Telecom and Retail still show high service related problems.
So the question is - Are the organizations missing the forest for the trees?
Are the organizations living with the notion of attaining goal with speed and automation overlooking the importance of fundamentals needs of a Customer?
For that, one needs to understand what a Digital Age Customer wants.
Digital Age Customers
Look at few of the revealing statistics which outline the direction shaping the digital era:
• Cross-border flows of digitally transmitted data accounted for one third of increase of global GDP in 2014 and it is increasing
• In a population of 7.5 billion, there are 5.1 billion unique mobile users, 4.0 billion Internet users and 3.2 billion Social Media users
The new digital customers are connected and look for a faster solution. New consumer journey is shifting from sessions to spurts which Google has mentioned as Micro-Moments. This will emerge as the new battle ground for the brands to Be There, Be Useful and Be Quick.
According to a recent study by PWC, 26 percent of the customers are ready to pay premium for a service which is AI assisted, guarantees quick resolution and offers direct access to humans. Also, the same study indicates that 66 percent Customers believe that AI-Run Customer Service doesn’t have a human touch and a substantial 27 percent believe that it is not accurate.
And how does an organization achieve that – A fast and accurate Customer Experience? The answer lies in adopting an integrated approach rather than a fragmented one.
Adopting an Integrated Framework
The 9c3i framework is an integrated framework that I formulated based on rigorous industry research, discussion with experts and application with success.
This framework integrates all the elements required to achieve excellent CX. However, this write-up discusses only the people part of the framework.
This people framework delineates a three-pronged structure as in the figure below.
The framework works on the following premises:
• Developing the Technological skills (Requirement will increase by 55 percent by 2030)
• Developing the Cognitive | Emotional Skills (Requirement will increase by 8 percent | 24 percent by 2030)
• Align Organization Structure and Workforce Composition• Re-engineer processes
• Establish Measures
• Realign initiatives
The following is an example of how performance improved in a particular firm with the application of the framework.
This is for an ICT set-up with more than ten million customers. In the case, People capability plan was drawn up across span and layers. Structure was aligned and more than fifty processes were re-engineered. To create the continuum, a robust governance was put in place spanning across the organization. During this time, few big technological solutions were deployed.
The result was encouraging across all parameters. Here, I am quoting only two business level metrics across about eight quarters
• Net promoter Score improved by > 90 percent
• Cost reduced by > 20 percent
• People Satisfaction Scores were > 90 percent
The imperative for an organization will be to stay relevant ‘At The Moment’ and companies that would adapt to the impending changes will survive.
To conclude, I shall quote from the poem Change Upon Change by Elizabeth Browning:
Five months ago the stream did flow,
The lilies bloomed within the sedge,
And we were lingering to and fro,
Where none will track thee in this snow
Should I change less than thou?