Have you heard about the Internet of things? Yes, an idea that has changed the world. You can have access to your home appliances while you are traveling or at a remote location.
Today, AI, VR, and IoT in hospitality are all converging. More connected devices mean more data. That means AI algorithms are trained on better datasets and can perform more functions. And a greater understanding of guests’ interests, desires, and experiences means more interactive and engaging VR experiences before, en-route, and at their destination.
As customer expectations rise, technology offers an answer. The challenge for hospitality brands is investing in the right systems before it’s too late.
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The Internet of Things (IoT) is already a reality in the commercial world and it’s getting bigger by the minute in the consumer space. The number of devices connected to the internet continues to grow closer towards the 20 billion connections that research firm, Gartner, predicts there will be by 2020.
In the enterprise space, machine-to-machine (M2M) communications are one of the biggest growth areas in information technology, with the car industry one of the biggest adopters. However, the rampant growth of IOT holds significant ramifications in the consumer space, particularly when it comes to customer service.
People increasingly have to deal with objects – things – as well as other people. When that interaction goes wrong, or when people need assistance or simply more information, traditional customer service channels are not always up to scratch.
With all the improvements in customer service in recent years – improved contact center technology, chat lines, automated response systems and the like – consumer satisfaction with service levels have been dropping. A new report from research company Ovum, commissioned by LogMeIn, has identified a significant disconnect between what today’s mobile and always-connected customers have come to expect from customer service and what contact centers are delivering.
According to Ovum’s research, 48 percent of customers surveyed believe that the ability to reach the right representative has worsened over the last two years and as a result, 76 percent have stopped doing business with a brand following a bad encounter.
The findings also highlight that IoT technologies have a potential for helping with the technical resolution of customer issues. While the technology is not well understood by customers, they are evidently willing to use it if it means solving technical issues quicker. This presents a number of opportunities.
When asked whether they would be willing to connect their devices to the internet, over 50 percent of customers said that they didn’t believe it to be necessary, or that they would not be comfortable with connecting their devices. But 25 percent said they would be keen to do this if it would resolve their customer service issues faster.
On the useful benefits of connected devices, 63 percent of customers said that they would like to improve resolution rates for technical problems. Although not all of the surveyed customers are aware of what the IoT could mean for them, they all want to be able to resolve problems faster.
All of the surveyed contact center managers said they are aware of how the IoT can be beneficial to their organizations, and they understand that remote technical diagnosis is potentially a significant advantage. When asked about benefits of connected products, they stated that being able to optimize field service, chat directly to customers on a device, and carry out remote updates are all advantages that they would hope to gain.
Today’s highly mobile customers are empowered to seek out support from multiple touch points and have come to expect a response through those channels in minutes. It is possible, for example, to use a customer’s mobile phone to resolve problems in real time by sending images to the contact center representative, showing them exactly what the customer sees. It is an example of how the IoT is part of the solution to better customer service.
Such real-time visualization technology has the potential to shorten support times and greatly reducing product returns which end up with ‘no fault found’, which affects retailers’ and product manufacturers’ profit margins – consultancy Accenture estimates the cost of such returns is as much as US$9.4 billion annually.
Technology is constantly evolving. So is customer support. The IoT trend adds a new layer of complexity to customer support, but it also has the potential to greatly assist in the resolution of customer support issues.
One of the most disruptive technologies of our time is Artificial Intelligence (AI) which makes it possible for machines to learn from experience, adjust to new inputs and perform human-like tasks. With the capacity to drastically change our entire world, early adopters are already experimenting with the lucrative functions of AI, especially within the contact center world.
As AI continues to perform outside the ways of human capacity, its implementation will only continue to grow as more than 62 percent of businesses plan to integrate AI-fueled solutions this year.
Here are five ways AI harnesses the power to revolutionize the customer experience:
Delivers proactive customer experiences
AI helps customer service teams further distinguish themselves from competitors in today’s highly-saturated marketplace by leveraging new customer data to deliver more personalized customer interactions. AI-fueled technology such as chatbots can fluently translate the information from various channels while determining patterns in customer behaviors to pinpoint customer needs and improve customer service operations on an individualized basis.
With this knowledge, AI conducts more productive conversations as well as anticipates needs based on context, preference and prior queries. As organizations accumulate more data on customers, predictive accuracy will increase and deliver proactive customer service that anticipates and acts prior to an issue arising.
Discovers new revenue streams
AI is the fuel that takes businesses to the next level by streamlining inquiries, assistance and outcomes. By extracting useful information from conversations – whether voice, digital or even an image – AI can predict trends and customer sentiment that could influence retention, loyalty and purchase inclinations.
Data examined by AI can help businesses uncover patterns companies can use to create entirely new and monetizable services for customers. In addition, insight delivered by AI can drive advanced levels of service at a fraction of the cost, saving some call centers as much as 60 to 80 percent in costs while helping them stand out in their industry as the “gold standard” for customer experience.
Increases contact center productivity
AI is not the sole driver of customer service, but it takes contact centers to the next level by streamlining inquiries and capturing resolutions. By extracting useful information from voice and digital conversations, images and machine-to-machine communications, AI can quickly predict trends and customer sentiment that may affect retention and loyalty. AI-infused automation also improves the experience of live agents, allowing them to resolve problems faster, waste less time handling routine inquiries and provide a better customer experience.
Enhances real-time agent training
In contact centers, managers can spend more than 50 percent of their time per week tackling administrative tasks, which drastically reduces the time they spend developing agents. As a result, managers struggle to support their employees who become increasingly frustrated with difficult processes and demanding KPIs. This frustration causes them to leave, pushing turnover rates higher.
AI can mitigate these concerns. By gathering and processing information from employees as well as customers, AI can provide real-time updates to supervisors as well as present in-line training for agents. Managers also can receive at-a-glance coaching objectives based on agent performance, allowing employees to gain feedback and training directly. The cycle of monitoring calls, training agents and improving for the next call is quicker and more insightful because of AI’s ability to gather and aggregate staggering amounts of data.
Improves human interaction
More than 40 percent of contact center decision makers are exploring AI’s uses, amplifying the theory that AI will replace human-powered jobs. Although it greatly enhances data collection and reporting tasks, customer service experts report AI solutions are only able to resolve 10 to 35 percent of customer inquiries without a human touch. As a result, customer service teams must refocus their agents on higher-level customer concerns rather than allowing AI to tackle every role. With these new skills, agents will be better equipped to handle interactions that require more complex insight and analysis to deliver faster and more effective customer experiences.
AI is a crucial part of improving both agent and customer experience. It does hold the key to greater customer insights and enabling real-time decision making but contact center leaders will need to cut through much of the hype surrounding AI to determine its real-world value in their settings. Once you assess and research how AI can streamline your business operations, the right vendor is ready with technology and guidance for bringing your vision to life.