IT Brief Australia logo
Technology news for Australia's largest enterprises
Story image

Why humans will remain at the core of customer experience

By Contributor
Wed 17 Oct 2018
FYI, this story is more than a year old

The rise of Artificial Intelligence technology is reaching into many aspects of how we do business, as organisations utilise it to drive efficiencies and pull costs out of their business. 

In terms of customer engagement, there is a push around AI, and from a technical perspective, it is maturing to deliver a semi-human experience.

But from what we’ve seen so far, there is still some way to go when it comes to realising the benefits of a reduction in human interactions. Enterprises envisaged a fast ROI with digital initiatives but in reality, it has not lead to a reduction in human contact in contact centres, but rather simply presented the customer with another option.

Customers are just as reliant on human interaction as ever. Digital initiatives around chat haven’t seen a reduction in voice contact. The simpler transactions, including self-service by mobile, are increasing, but humans will always be an integral part of it and there is a big impetus on supporting agents with AI to deliver better customer service and monitor their wellbeing to ensure they are equipped and are competent enough to deal with enquiries.

Nothing will slow the march of AI as much of the corporate spend is heading in that direction, to the extent that if a new implementation is too voice-centric you probably won’t get the funding, as the focus is on digital and AI.

In contact centres, the primary function of AI is to streamline the human interactions, rather than replace them. For example, I know of one very large project involving AI for a large outsourcer with 5000 agents which was using AI to replace real-time analysts who were doing call routing. They are not replacing humans for complex transactions but rather assisting with service levels. AI was able to learn and manage the movement of people between queues better than humans. So typically, AI is replacing back-end office functions but not front-end agents.

In the UK, as well as using AI in the context of automating manual processes and being more responsive, it is also being used for operational management and to better equip agents with customer handling.

AI can present an understanding of a customer to an agent in real time so they can be more intuitive to the customer’s likely needs. Also, if an agent needs to transfer a call, we can use AI to equip that agent with a real-time indicator of the likely waiting time for the customer to speak to someone else, to manage the customer’s expectations. Then once that transfer is made, there won’t be the need for the customer to explain the nature of their call all over again, as the colleague will be provided with full details of the call in real time without having to frustrate the customer by asking them to repeat all the details.

Where an agent needs to place a customer on hold, we can use AI to give the caller an indication of how long they will be waiting for and update them as they proceed in the queue.

People want a human interaction

In advertising, we see organisations promoting local contact centres with humans on the end of the phone line. Large companies have introduced home shoring policies to bring back offshore contact centres to local markets.

In Australia, ANZ did an ad campaign around “always speaking to a human”. People want to speak with a human but the challenge for businesses is the cost of that human interaction versus automation. Automation is good for simple transactions, but for higher value or more complex transactions, human interactions should still be the way to go.

Being able to track customer effort across all of the customer’s contact points is vital. We are currently working on a system to deliver a real-time customer effort score to agents. Based on that level of effort, they can decide whether the caller needs to be routed to a specialist agent. This is an effective way of reducing repeat contact from the customer for the same issue, removing customer frustration as well as reducing churn rates.  

A detailed understanding of customer service levels is essential. NPS surveys only poll 5% of all customer contacts, while DMI solutions only reflect a service level based metric view of the world as that is what organisations are operating contact centres by. You need to have a more granular level of data and you need to share that data across channels. 

We have built solutions to do that across disparate infrastructure where, for example, the marketing team have already deployed chat or POS systems that are different to those in the contact centre. 

To deliver a truly tailored service, organisations spend millions on CRM and skills-based routing to direct calls to the best-equipped agent, but because of service level based metrics, within 20 seconds all that investment goes out of the window to get the call answered as quickly as possible. The world is shifting and that is not a good enough measure of customers.

Enterprises need to be tracking all customer contact to ascertain real-time customer effort and to equip agents with better information, using AI and machine learning to get a better understanding of how to engage with customers.

Article by Phil Smith, CEO at QPC Group

Related stories
Top stories
Story image
Red Sift
Entrust expands strategic partnership with Red Sift
Entrust has expanded its strategic partnership with Red Sift to make it easier for businesses to adopt Brand Indicators for Message Identification (BIMI) standards for email identification and security.
Story image
MailGuard warns of new scam targeting Telstra customers
Telstra customers in Australia are being warned of a new scam involving "Unsuccessful Payment" messages.
Story image
Hybrid Cloud
Barracuda expands cloud-native SASE platform
"The expansion of Barracuda's cloud-native SASE platform for hybrid deployment models and IIoT environments solves a number of challenges."
Story image
Digital Transformation
Digital transformation increasing business complexities
A new survey suggests businesses must re-examine their digital transformation approach to better help employees adapt to change.
Story image
Cyber attacks
Devastating cyber attacks expected to hit energy sector
Energy executives anticipate life, property, and environment-compromising cyber attacks on the sector within the next two years.
Story image
Artificial Intelligence
Gartner reveals top three tech trends for banks this year
Gartner says generative artificial intelligence, autonomic systems and privacy-enhancing computation are gaining traction in banking and investment services.
Story image
More than 40% of banks worried about cloud security - report
Publicis Sapient's new report finds security and the lack of cloud skills and internal understanding of business benefits are big obstacles for banks moving to the cloud.
Story image
Infosec unveils role-guided cybersecurity training roadmaps 
Infosec Skills Roles maps hands-on training and certifications to the 12 most in-demand cybersecurity roles to maximise training efficiency.
Story image
APAC organisations fail to disclose ransomware breaches
85% of organisations in APAC were breached by ransomware at least once in the past five years, but only 28% publicly disclosed the incident.
Story image
Equinix announces milestones on sustainability commitments
Equinix has released its 2021 Sustainability Report which outlines progress, innovation and accomplishments on key ESG commitments.
Story image
Vectra AI
Understanding the weight on security leader’s shoulders, and how to shift it
Millions of dollars of government funding and internal budgets are being funnelled into cybersecurity to build resilience against sophisticated threats, indicating how serious this issue has become.
Story image
SPS network now available to CrescoData eCommerce customers
CrescoData, a Pitney Bowes Company and PaaS business in the commerce space, says its customers can now connect to the SPS Commerce Retail Network.
Story image
i-PRO releases smallest AI-based surveillance camera on the market
The new i-PRO mini network camera is now available, with a pocket-sized form factor and full AI analytics functionality.
Story image
NetApp launches Spot PC, a new Desktop-as-a-Service solution
This is a new managed cloud DaaS solution with security, automation, observability and optimisation capabilities, designed for the needs of today.
Story image
Digital Marketing
Similarweb acquires SEO and rank tracking company Rank Ranger
Digital intelligence company Similarweb, which specialises in analysing web traffic, has acquired Rank Ranger, a market leader in SEO and rank tracking.
Story image
Aligned Data Centers increases sustainability-linked loan
Aligned Data Centers has increased its sustainability-linked loan from $375 million to $1.75 billion to speed up the next phase of its strategic growth.
Story image
Data Protection
Information management capabilities to meet privacy requirements
Organisations with customers or operations across more than one country face a spate of new and proposed privacy and data protection laws.
Story image
Silver Peak
The path to an adaptive, modern network
Managing and securing the network looks different than it did just two years ago—especially given that most of these networks are made up of multi-generations of infrastructure stitched together over time.
Story image
Digital Marketing
Getty Images delves into the world of NFTs with Candy Digital
Getty Images and Candy Digital, the next-generation digital collectible company, have announced a new multi-year partnership agreement.
Story image
Telstra enters into new RSP agreement with Opticomm
Telstra has entered into an RSP agreement with Opticomm (A Uniti Group Limited subsidiary) to provide network fibre services to customers.
Find out how a behavioural analytics-driven approach can transform security operations with the new Exabeam commissioned Forrester study.
Link image
Story image
Alarming surge in Conti Ransomware Group activity - report
A new report has identified a 7.6 per cent increase in the number of vulnerabilities tied to ransomware in Q1 2022.
Story image
GapMaps Live to improve brand decisions on physical locations
GapMaps has released its latest service GapMaps Live, giving more insights and features to help brands make better decisions about physical locations.
Story image
Comcast to use ThreatQuotient for cybersecurity operations
Comcast, the parent company of NBC Universal and SKY Group, has chosen ThreatQ Platform and ThreatQ Investigations to meet their cybersecurity needs.
Story image
Sift shares crucial advice for preventing serious ATO breaches
Are you or your business struggling with Account Takeover Fraud (ATO)? One of the latest ebooks from Sift can provide readers with the tools and expertise to help launch them into the new era of account security.
Story image
New Relic
New Relic launches vulnerability management platform
New Relic has introduced New Relic Vulnerability Management to help organisations find and address security risks faster and with greater precision.
Story image
Vectra AI
Vectra’s inaugural Partner of the Year Awards revealed
APAC companies Baidam, Firmus, ShellSoft and Macnica have been recognised in Vectra AI's inaugural Partner of the Year Awards.
Story image
Ponemon Institute
Email revealed to be riskiest channel for data loss
More than half (60%) of organisations experienced data loss or exfiltration caused by an employee mistake on email in the last 12 months.
Story image
Australian space tech startup secures SpaceX support
Space Machines Company has secured the support of SpaceX as a launch partner in carrying SMC's Optimus Orbital Transfer Vehicle to space next year.
Story image
Boost Mobile
Boost Mobile now makes up over 7% of Aussie prepaid market
Boost Mobile has doubled its market share over the past four years and now has more than 7% of Australia's prepaid market, equivalent to over 700,000 people.
Story image
ChildFund launches new campaign to protect children online
ChildFund says WEB Safe & Wise aims to protect children from sexual exploitation and abuse online while also empowering them to become digitally savvy. 
Story image
Data Center
Preventing downtime costs and damage with Distributed Infrastructure Management
Distributed Infrastructure Management (DIM) can often be a lifeline for many enterprises that work with highly critical ICT infrastructure and power sources.
Story image
Multi Cloud
Red Hat updates dev tools, empowers use of hybrid and multicloud
Red Hat has unveiled updates across its portfolio of developer tools, designed to help organisations build and deliver applications faster.
Story image
Manhattan Associates
Shortening the click-to-customer cycle through smart technologies
Speed of delivery without accuracy is a dealbreaker for consumers. How can retailers operating in an omnichannel environment overcome the challenge of click-to-customer cycle times.
Story image
Managed service provider
Barracuda MSP Day 2022 highlights MSP opportunities
Barracuda Networks has released a report showing global services-related MSP revenue is set to increase by more than a third in 2022 compared to 2021.
Story image
Skills shortages hold orgs back from capitalising on cloud 2.0
Organisations are becoming more comfortable with sophisticated 'cloud 2.0' technologies, even as they confront difficulties in hiring and retaining IT talent.
Story image
Women in Technology
Huawei webinar emphasises the importance of women in tech
Industry findings by Coursera discussed as part of a webinar jointly organised by Huawei and Reuters Events found 6% more women enrolled in tech courses this year than in 2021.
Story image
Alteryx releases updates, empowers data insights for enterprise
Alteryx has released new advancements designed to aid enterprises with cloud analytics, democratise insights and ensure data governance.
Story image
Remote Working
Successful digital transformation in the hybrid work era is about embracing shifting goalposts
As organisations embraced remote working, many discovered they lacked the infrastructure needed to support history’s first global load test of remote work capabilities.
Story image
Cybersecurity prompts upgrade for 1.3 billion electricity meters
ABI Research finds Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and cybersecurity concerns are prompting the upgrade of 1.3 billion electricity meters by 2027.
Story image
Trojan cyber attacks hitting SMBs harder than ever - Kaspersky
In 2022 the number of Trojan-PSW detections increased by almost a quarter compared to the same period in 2021 to reach 4,003,323.
Story image
The most common online scams in Australia
No one is safe from online scammers, and many of these scammers have capitalised on the pandemic, using this confusing time to attack more people than ever.
Story image
Let’s clear the cloud visibility haze with app awareness
Increasingly, organisations are heading for the cloud, initiating new born-in-the-cloud architectures and migrating existing applications via ‘lift and shift’ or refactoring.
Story image
Digital Signage
MAXHUB's Digital Signage range to bolster boardroom productivity
The new MAXHUB Digital Signage technology is purpose-built to make every kind of team meeting more effective.