Human-machine partnerships are key to the future of customer experience

The age-old debate over technology versus human capabilities remains inconclusive. But in the age of artificial intelligence (AI), analytics, and the cloud, we see more and more opportunities to think about how humans and machines can come together as a team, rather than to be opposing forces. From diagnosing diseases and providing an effortless customer experience, to understanding human preferences and delivering new customer insights, the human-machine partnership is evolving and more in sync than ever. It makes our lives simpler and more convenient.

Gartner predicts that by 2025, context-based analytics and AI models will replace 60% of existing models based on traditional data. We will see new types of data, including unstructured data such as audio, video, and images, being leveraged to give organizations a competitive edge, gain more value, and develop new use cases to prepare the ground for a new customer-centric era.

It offers a glimpse into a future of close human-machine partnership, where we think, collaborate and create using technology and business intelligence. This type of partnership is important when the goal is to give customers personalized and relevant information that can help them make informed decisions to purchase products or subscribe to services, which in turn builds trust and loyalty in a company.

A concrete example of this can be found in an intelligent virtual agent or chatbot used by organizations to provide personalized service and advice to people. Chatbots use AI and scripted rules to ask questions, identify the challenge, and resolve customer queries.

On paper, chatbots seem like a surefire way to create and deliver a good customer experience with less human resources, but a recent study by Avaya with Ipsos indicates that, based on their last interaction with a virtual agent, only one in three customers would recommend this company to others. In fact, only 50% of respondents actually solved their problem or concern via the chatbot.

This lack of success is due in part to the historical complexity of developing and delivering effective virtual agent solutions. Traditionally, deploying a virtual chatbot could take months, after which consumer preferences, business processes, or even basic company information might have changed. In this context, relying solely on a chatbot is a failure to exploit the potential of the human-machine partnership.

Meanwhile, advanced capabilities and technological potential also eliminate misconceptions about technology taking over jobs. This perception stems from companies’ inability to have an open discussion with employees about adopting AI across all business functions. Using technology for a purpose is known to help employees focus more on business innovation and value-added tasks, rather than spending time doing mundane work. It is a company’s responsibility to demonstrate and educate their employees on how technology can augment and support their work to achieve satisfaction.

In today’s experience economy and the analysis of the data it needs to compete, human capabilities may fall short. But relying entirely on machines is not the right approach – organizations need both the automated and fast computing power that AI brings. But they also need the human ingenuity to solve complex problems. The focus should therefore be on adopting AI technologies that improve the skills of your employees.

Savio Tovar Dias is Senior Director – Sales Engineering at Avaya International

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