Lessons Learned from Joining the CX World
A few months ago, I began working in the customer experience (CX) technologies space, where chatbots play a huge component. Coming into this area I had many preconceived notions about chatbots – some (admittedly) wrong and some right. Starting as an AI self-proclaimed “novice”, I’ve come a long way. I have put together my top three lessons learned when it comes to chatbots and AI’s influence on the customer experience space.
1. Overcoming ‘Fear of the Bot’.
For many, there are questions and negative assumptions about chatbots and how they will shape the future of many industries. I call this “fear of the bot.” Bot hesitancy spans from companies that fear their customers won’t adopt bots, to employees that fear bots will replace them. However, over the past few months I’ve uncovered that this idea of “bots taking over” is far from true. The key lesson I’ve learned is that bots are not the enemy, but rather a strategic partner to help human agents focus their work on high-value customer questions and requests.
This lesson makes me reflect on my first-ever summer job. This job was at the heart of customer service: a cashier at “JoJo’s Country Store” on Lake Winnipesaukee. The owners of the store ingrained in all front-line employees that providing the best customer service and experience was fundamental to maintaining the loyalty of our valued customers.
Over the course of many summers working at JoJo’s, technology evolved as we went from using manual-entry registers to more complex scanners. The change in technology was concerning at first. Would this new technology take away the “charm” or personalization of the store – the charm that made our customer experience so unique? In short, the answer was ‘no’. This new technology significantly sped up the time spent ringing in items, allowing myself and my coworkers to spend more time on higher-value conversations with customers (like helping to go above and beyond and provide guidance and assistance on their shopping needs). With more time spent focusing on customer’s needs and less time customers spent waiting in line to complete their purchase, technology helped enable an overall better customer experience.
Although this anecdote isn’t a specific example of bots in the workplace, the idea is the same. New technology can be daunting. It can be intimidating. But more importantly new technology – when harnessed in the right way – can be helpful. To some, bots pose a threat to how we conduct business today. However, what I’ve learned is that rather than fearing bots, companies should be embracing them for the value they provide. Bots will absolutely shift how we approach customer service – but in ways that will help provide an overall better experience.
2. Humanizing my bot views
At one point or another, most of us have interacted with a bot – whether we realized it at the time or not. Bots have come a long way, but there may have been a time when you had a bot interaction that lead to a negative experience. An interaction where you felt like you were fighting to make sense to this cyber robot and couldn’t get anywhere with the conversation.
However, all bots are not created equal. In my few months working in the AI-powered customer experience space I’ve learned that this notion of computational, cyber robots does not hold true for all chatbots. A bad experience you may have had with a bot in the past is not the way all bot interactions are. The right kind of bots have worked hard to disrupt this negative reputation by leveraging technology to make interactions more like a human, making better customer experiences.
One of the most interesting ways to make the bot experience more human is through technology like Natural Language Processing (NLP). NLP allows customers to ask questions to bots in their own voice (rather than keywords) and in turn the bot provides an answer. Say goodbye to the days where you needed to string together the exact keyword phrase the bot needed to spit back an answer. With the right bot, customers can ask questions the way they want to.
Another “robotic” frustration with some chatbots is when they provide generic, impersonal answers. How frustrating is it for you, as a customer, to go searching for answers only to be provided a generic (often lengthy) response? One way human interactions are so successful is through conversation. When customers are looking for specific answers to questions that apply to their situation, conversation helps tease out a targeted answer for that inquiry. With the right bot, this frustration can be a thing of the past. What I’ve learned is that some bots today can help narrow down answers for customers, through context-specific clues and conversational interactions.
3. Understanding Employee Experience
By far, the biggest learning I’ve had from my first few months with chatbots and AI, is that chatbots can be used for both your external customers and internal employees. This learning came on day one. Sitting in orientation, we were informed that if we had any additional HR inquiries, a great resource was our own internal HR chatbot. An HR chatbot?! Yes, this is correct.
As a new employee, wondering about basic questions like – what holidays do we have off? Or what is the vision policy? I was able to find these answers quickly and easily by asking our HR bot. Then, a few months in to the job when I faced a large life event (getting married!) I had more questions – which I directed to my friendly HR bot to find the answers I needed easily, and on my own time.
As chatbots and AI become more and more a part of the way we – shop online, interact with our credit cards and banks, book travel, etc. – our expectations for solving problems and questions are shifting. In one way or another, all employees at a company are customers of chatbots in some respect in their personal life. As customer expectations change so will employee expectations. Therefore, it’s only fair that the way that we approach employee experience should match the way we approach customer experience, because at the end of the day, employees are companies’ internal customers.
As I continue in my journey in this area of technology – AI backed solutions (like chatbots) for customer experience – I can only imagine these learnings will continue to grow. To see how some of this technology is put into action, visit our website at www.bold360.com