Automation and customer service — so perfect together

The digital transformation that modern society is going through has fundamentally changed customer expectations. What was once acceptable as a customer experience in most cases will no longer suffice. Expectations have been elevated and will never come back down. As a consumer, once Amazon started giving me same-day free delivery and precise preference recommendations, how could I ever be satisfied again with seven to 10 business days and poorly targeted product pitches?

Despite this, many businesses persist in thinking that a “human touch” is needed to deliver superb customer experiences. As shown by the Amazon example above, that’s simply not true and represents out of date thinking. In fact, companies today MUST leverage automation if they want to keep up in the intense competition to offer the best customer service.

When formulating an automation strategy, it’s important to understand the three levels of automation:

  • Current level – using traditional automation tools that continue to evolve — robotic process automation (RPA) being the latest wave
  • Cognitive Automation – an enriched level that includes smart robots with the ability to analyze and adapt, interpret unstructured data and take action
  • True Transformation – at this level of automation, organizations are moving to anything-as-a-service models and transforming to entirely new business models as a winning plan (some are actually disrupting themselves to win in the market!)

Understanding these levels, and being clear on exactly what the organization is trying to achieve via automation, is critical. An effective way to phrase the question is: Are you automating for efficiency, or automating for customer insight and growth?

Leveraging RPA is highly effective for increasing efficiencies. High-volume, repetitive processes are often the low-hanging fruit of an initial move into automation. This type of automation reduces costs and increases accuracy, typically reducing 80 percent of manual effort. But a point of diminishing returns is eventually reached when all of the inefficiencies have been wrung out of manually intensive processes.

At this point a company has arrived at the second level: cognitive automation. It’s vital to have internal alignment on goals — some business units may be quite happy with RPA. But if delighting the customer and fending off nimble startups is the goal, automation must move into cognitive customer experience. This enriched automation could take the form of intelligent chatbots and virtual assistants — smart robots with the ability to analyze and learn from unstructured data and autonomously make decisions.

This level of automation can give large incumbents in verticals such as insurance and finance an important edge over smaller, startup-minded competitors. Cognitive intelligence can “turn back the clock” and once again make market size an advantage rather than a liability. By applying cognitive automation to their massive flows of customer data, incumbents can gain insight into strategies to fend off new competitors and maintain market share.

Beyond Bank Australia is an example of an organization that leveraged DXC Technology’s expertise to achieve its goal of business transformation and improve customer interactions. DXC deployed an integrated customer insight and engagement platform that provided Beyond Bank with a true 360-degree view of the customer. Now, with DXC’s leadership and continued innovation on the platform, Beyond Bank has not only gained a 360‑degree view but it can also predict customers’ future behavior. This is a powerful competitive advantage for the bank as it can now direct resources and funds toward initiatives that are most likely to deliver increased business.

Much has been written about how companies like Uber and Airbnb have massively disrupted established verticals by applying innovative technology and business models to create new and better customer experiences. Cognitive automation offers incumbents in many verticals a proven way to fight back and be proactive rather than reactive to market threats.

The question organizations should be asking is not whether automation can improve the customer experience. The question to ask is: When are we going to start leveraging the most powerful technologies available to stay relevant to our customers?


Teakaau Piho is the global leader of DXC’s Customer Experience (CX) Services. Teakaau is responsible for developing new products and services that bridge traditional analogue services with digital channels, creating new delivery models that drive growth and accelerate transition to the cloud.

RELATED LINKS:

Enlightened Automation 

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