Artificial Intelligence for customer service is a reality and shows great potential for the future.
Larry Tobin, CRM Practice Director with Codec gives his opinion on the research report into the use of Artificial Intelligence for customer service organisations in Ireland.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is remarkably complex and advancing quickly. It’s doing far more in some areas, and far less in others, than anyone would have guessed a decade ago. It’s impossible for anyone today to give a precise vision of how the next ten—much less five—years will unfold.
67% of executives say AI will help humans and machines work together to be stronger using both artificial and human intelligence”. Source: PwC Consumer Intelligence Series: Bot.Me, 2017 Base: 500 business executives
Codec, in association with Microsoft were interested in understanding the impact of Artificial Intelligence specifically for customer service management and how executives viewed its role within the customer call centre environment. We commissioned Coyne research to undertake research into this topical and growing area of interest and how it impacted on Irish organisations today.
We specifically wanted to focus on the contact centre environment and the implications of AI within this sector. To this end and we worked closely with the CCMA (Customer Contact Management Association) and research was conducted to its members. Organisations ranging in size from SME to those with over 250 staff were represented with this research and the findings make for interesting reading.
AI is a high priority for many but lack of implementation to date
Over a third of Irish organisations with customer contact centres view Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a high priority for Customer Relationship Management (CRM). However, interestingly only 14% currently use AI solutions, and only 33% of organisations plan to implement AI in the immediate future for customer service management.
It’s a surprising feature of the research to note that 1 in 3 organisations currently use customer service tools that already include AI capability but they are not actively using this functionality.
Organisations understand the need for AI and see the benefits of using it but implementation rates are low.
The research reveals the importance of Artificial Intelligence will continue to increase for decision makers at Irish organisations, with seven in ten saying that AI will be a high priority in the future, both for the general business (69%) and for customer service (68%) activity. The growing importance of AI is highlighted by the finding that 93% of organisations plan to use AI as part of future ongoing customer service activities.
What are the perceived benefits of using AI in the Contact Centre?
According to the research, the main perceived benefits of AI for customer service its ability to make processes more efficient (80%), enhance self-service for customers (76%), and improve the overall customer experience (65%).
When asked how they managed or collected insights to better help customers, 41% of organisations have an in-house customer service system, with 91% saying customer response time is a key priority, and 84% saying customer satisfaction is key. When it came to measuring feedback, 81% use survey and customer feedback forms. Under half (48%) use feedback captured by the call handler.
Respondents recognised the value of AI for gathering customer insights, with 51% noting its ability to predict customer behaviour as a key benefit, and 41% identifying AI as a beneficial way to better understand customers. It can also be used to drive product sales, with 29% of organisations listing AI’s ability to flag hot prospects for selling or upselling as a major benefit.
What does this research tell us?
The vendor view (Microsoft)
“The research shows that most organisations understand and can see the value of AI in capturing and extracting valuable insights for better customer service. However, AI is seen as a high priority for the future but less so today, which means that organisations are missing out on the opportunity to deliver the best possible customer experience right now. We see that organisations may already have AI capability in their existing systems but may not fully realise it. In addition, 41% have their own in-house and legacy solution which is costlier to manage and maintain and doesn’t leverage the full benefit of the cloud for customer experience. Organisations need to consider these missed opportunities and the associated costs of not taking action today,” said Ger Perdisatt, Enterprise Director, Microsoft Ireland.
Our view (Codec)
“Dealing with international and local organisations daily to deliver CRM solutions allows us insight into where companies are in their digital transformation journey, so the results today aren’t a huge surprise – a massive majority of organisations recognise the business impact of AI on customer service. While the large majority see future investment as a priority, only about a third see an investment priority today. We hope that these findings encourage organisations to explore the potential of AI for customer experience today,” said Larry Tobin, Dynamics 365 Practice Director, Codec.
The Customer Call Centre Association View (CCMA)
“We think this is a valuable piece of research for the customer service industry in Ireland. It is clear that the organisations that took part in this survey continue to focus on delivering an excellent customer experience and recognise the many benefits that AI offers to optimise business processes ensuring a seamless end to end customer journey experience. Customer service organisations must put their customer first in the pursuit of customer experience excellence and applying innovation and creativity through AI will assist them in achieving this goal,” Dorothy O’Byrne, Managing Director, Customer Contact Management Association (CCMA) Ireland.
About the Research
These findings are from new research from Microsoft Ireland and Codec that was conducted by Coyne Research in August of this year in conjunction with members of the Customer Contact Management Association (CCMA). These ranged from large organisations with over 250 employees to SMEs in Ireland.
This research was conducted by Coyne Research in August 2018 on behalf of Microsoft and Codec.
According to Irish organisations the other key benefits of AI from a customer service perspective are:
About Larry Tobin
Larry Tobin is CRM Practice Director with Codec. He is responsible for the Dynamics CRM practice in Codec and has overseen the growth of our Dynamics practice from 2 people 7 years ago to over 100 highly skilled consultants and developers today. For more information on the Codec Microsoft CRM practice, click here.