Tips & Learning

Combining AI and Human Ingenuity to create awesome customer experiences

If you are not all in on AI at this point, at the very least you should be experimenting, learning, and testing the technology, as well as combining AI with human interactions.

Lou Leporace
Jun 9, 2023

Today, customer service and the customer experience may be enhanced through a collaboration between AI and humans by leveraging the strengths of each.

The Key points

  • Assess your situation, needs, and your team’s strengths/weaknesses to identify where/how AI may be applied to combine human strengths with AI assistance for an improved customer experience.
  • Utilize AI to augment customer service tasks while maintaining human involvement.
  • Utilize AI in guiding customers through buying and service engagements
  • Success with AI relies on organizational changes, not just technology.

The rapid evolution of artificial intelligence in recent months has many organizations looking to incorporate the technologies into a number of business processes, including customer service.

So how does one go about doing so? The answer is an AI-human collaboration where the organization takes the best that each has to offer which means combining the social skills, creativity, and leadership abilities of humans, with the speed, quantitative capabilities and scalability of AI. By combining these skills and efforts, humans and AI tools can enhance the strengths of the other for an improved customer experience.

Customer operations like any other enterprise area, seeks to improve efficiencies, lower costs, and improve results and the types of benefits from an AI-human collaboration seeks to improve user experiences, insights, accuracy, timeliness, costs, and revenues. 

The New Generation of Artificial Intelligence

While AI has been around for decades, the technology is now becoming much more robust and the tools are much easier to access and use. As a result it will soon be a critical part of advanced customer experiences at many organizations if they aren’t already. Companies are generally aware of the value of AI-human collaboration but may be struggling with how to start or how to execute.

There already is a growing number of tasks that AI automates and it continues to become more capable thus further advancing automation capabilities. AI can currently assist humans in many aspects of customer experience, especially in:

  • decision-making 
  • finding and providing information quickly to a customer query
  • routing information and data in the background

But because customer service is such a delicate and critical area to get right, there are many situations where a person’s direct involvement is still needed, and this is where AI can play a crucial supporting role. The technology is not quite ready to be released without some oversight or supervision, at least not at the time of this writing.

The maturity of AI usage overall in an enterprise is often a good predictor for the adoption of AI augmented agent capabilities.

Common real world examples

Here are just a few common examples of how organizations are incorporating large language models (LLMs) into customer functions:

  • Using AI to prepare a list of links or resources for customer learning or next steps
  • Using LLMs to collect and summarize information about previous interactions with a customer and prepare a summary for an agent before the agent gets on the call.
  • Using LLMs to summarize conversation with a customer, and then the agent can review and accept the summary.
  • Using LLMs to generate alternative phrase suggestions for people writing responses.
  • Using AI to analyze actions and engagements to identify places to reduce friction and improve experiences

Organizations that have made significant strides in these areas have no doubt learned that the most significant factors to success are organizational, not technological. Often the greater challenge is in modifying organization structure and processes.

In order to implement the AI-human collaboration, agent actions and processes must often change. Sometimes business process must also change, to properly leverage the new functions.

Shortcomings of AI

As impressive as AI can be with some tasks, it also has a number of shortcomings in the areas of accountability and trustworthiness. This is where the human part of the AI-human collaboration equation clearly comes into play, and it is important for organizations to understand this.

Professionals working with AI programs often want to know why AI provided a certain answer or recommendation to a task inquiry. Since AI is unable to discern accurate data from inaccurate data, AI methods can often give false or misleading explanations.

Such false or misleading outputs can quickly erode the trust of a human counterpart in the benefits of an AI-human collaboration and make the human staffer reluctant to accept or act on AI outputs.

Elements that are not good for AI automation include those requiring empathy, human judgment, where a dialog with subtle cues will be helpful, or where there is a chance that the automation may provide erroneous or misleading information.

Design of these systems is more craft than a science and there is advice and best practices available on human factors design. There is also a clear need for experimentation and feedback from actual deployments and in some cases this can be an iterative process. Not all people have the same response to automation, so you may need to enable customization.

Go All-in With AI to Distinguish Yourself from the Crowd

Investing in AI is a big move for any organization and the more savvy ones know that there is no time like the present.

Organizations need to educate staff so they don’t see or fear AI as a job killer, but instead embrace it as a means to improve processes, gain efficiencies and spark innovation. In the case of customer engagement, AI can be an invaluable tool at providing customers with prompt attention, valued information and appropriate resources.

Because time is always of the essence in any customer engagement situation, the organizations that get an early start with AI technologies are most likely to gain competitive advantage and lead in their industries.

Customer-focused activities and tasks are ripe for automation, and AI is a game-changer that will distinguish leading organizations in virtually all business process areas.

Unlike other technologies that offer one or two advantages such as an economic advantage or a speed advantage, AI provides a multitude of advantages including economic, scale, speed, experience, engagement, and agility.

Companies that do a lot with AI and are quick to incorporate it into their processes, will be quite successful and have a strong first mover advantage. AI is an area of technology where it will be difficult to be a fast follower and it will be a huge challenge to catch up to others in your industry who are already doing this.

One of the easiest ways in which you may get started is to employ a platform where AI is built in and may be employed through a no code interface. A few digital adoption platforms provide just that and make it easy to automate and assist with the customer experience and with digital workflows. 

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