Industry experts project that six to eight billion smartphones and between 50 to 80 billion connected devices will hit the market by 2020. And that proliferation will usher in new methods to handle once-manual tasks. With so many connected people and devices, artificial intelligence (AI) will power next-generation automation to help businesses and consumers alike. But AI isn’t strictly about replacing humans with machines, though some may want you to believe that. It’s about working smarter and more efficiently—using the data and insights available to you to create an experience that is simple and powerful. The next generation of automation combines the efficiencies of automation with the power of human touch.

Ready or Not, Here Come the Bots

Will Humans Take a Back Seat?

Globally, businesses are aware of the benefits of service automation and leveraging bots, especially for simple and repetitive tasks. However, consumers generally do not feel that bots can handle most interactions and prefer to speak with human agents to solve more complex problems.

The Genesys State of Customer Experience research shows:

  • Thirty-nine percent of businesses report that they offer chatbots. Yet, only 14% of consumers have used one within the last 12 months.
  • Sixty-six percent of businesses plan to use some type of chatbot within the next six months. However, only 2% of consumers prefer to use them.

Emerging countries are more open to newer technologies, and bots are used most often in Latin America and Asia Pacific regions.

  • The use of bots is expected to increase by 22% in the next six months.
  • Millennials will use bots twice as often as consumers aged 35 to 54, and six times more often than consumers aged 55 and over.

Respondents in most regions believe that bots will give agents more time to handle more complex issues.

  • Still, 40% of respondents in Asia Pacific regions, mainly India, believe the use of bots will result in a reduced workforce.

Businesses expect greater outcomes with bots.

  • More than 80% of respondents in IT hope to see improved customer satisfaction from the use of bots.
  • Sixty-two percent of respondents in IT hope to see staffing reductions. However, this differs from customer care, where only 27% of respondents believe that the use of bots will result in a loss of headcount.

Why It Matters:

Costs continue to rise as businesses support additional channels with increasing demand, which is among the main reasons that they leverage automation. Advancements in Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and machine learning make AI technologies more attractive than ever before, as shown by the popularity and adoption of technologies such as Siri, Alexa and Google. One reason for this is because consumers believe it’s easier to dictate a message than to type it out. Our lives are complicated, so we all look for ways to simplify our day-to-day engagements.

The Internet of Things (IoT) Transforms Engagement

Deconstructing IoT for Your Industry

The internet of things isn’t just about connecting devices to the internet. It’s more transformative than that. And IoT will affect every industry in one way or another.

Imagine this scenario. Doug is a busy working dad. He travels a lot and doesn’t have time to be “Mr. Fix It” at home. Because he has a smart home and smart appliances, he’s notified immediately when there’s a problem with any of his connected devices. Even while he’s traveling, Doug is notified automatically and he can schedule repairs at his convenience. He’s even had text conversations with bots while en route to a meeting, but didn’t even realize it. To him, a business solved his problem. A new was part ordered, a repair tech was scheduled—and it all happened seamlessly.

According to McKinsey & Company, the potential economic impact of the IoT could reach $11 trillion per year in 2025, which is equivalent to about 11% of the world economy. To make that a reality, it all depends on the widespread and intelligent use of IoT data analytics.

Customer service and support

Phone is still the prefered channel for service and support, but there are significant regional variances for mobile messaging. And when looking at consumer age, there’s a sharp contrast: Millennials rank voice and mobile messaging about the same, while baby boomers rank voice much higher than mobile messaging.

Product purchase and order tracking

In this area, voice drops sharply while mobile messaging, website and email rank higher. 

Account access and bill payment

Consumers in Latin America and Asia-Pacific regions use mobile messaging followed by website while in the rest of the world consumers prefer the website.

Appointment scheduling

Respondents in Asia Pacific use voice and mobile messaging nearly equally, while respondents in Latin America prefer mobile messaging over voice. North American respondents show a strong preference for voice and website. And when age is factored in, millennials prefer to use mobile messaging to schedule appointments, while Baby Boomers prefer voice.

Information gathering

Most respondents prefer websites and forums to gather information, especially in North America. In Latin America, however, mobile messaging and voice are preferred. Older respondents, such as Baby Boomers, prefer to use a website to gather information, while millennials prefer mobile messaging.

IoT and Customer Engagement

Consumers Still Search for Value

  • IT: Which of the following best describes your organization's plans for building systems that allow sensors and devices (IoT) to communicate with your organizations?

  • How do you feel about your IoT devices communicating on your behalf?

  • How do you feel about your devices communicating on your behalf?

  • How do you feel about your devices communicating on your behalf?

When it comes to customer engagement, how do consumers really feel about devices that communicate on their behalf? And do these beliefs match up with business plans to use IoT devices?

  • Forty-two percent of businesses indicate that they have projects in progress to build systems that communicate with IoT sensors and devices; another 32% of respondents have plans to do so within the next six months.
  • Healthcare industries reported the highest planned IoT adoption at 61%.
  • Only 19% of consumers are completely comfortable with having IoT devices communicate on their behalf. Nearly one-third are uncomfortable with the idea.
  • Of consumers surveyed in Latin America regions, 36% are completely comfortable with IoT devices communicating on their behalf. Millennials are more comfortable with IoT devices than other age groups.

Why It Matters:

As businesses begin using more device sensors that initiate automated communications and tasks, it will be important to build customer confidence in newly automated systems. If the primary goal of the automated IoT system and process is to create efficiency and reduce costs, consider how it affects the overall customer experience. Be sure to demonstrate to customers how the new IoT process will solve their problems faster and more efficiently. And, as with any automated process, offer customers an out. Customers resent feeling trapped by automation. It’s important to seamlessly blend intelligent automation with the power of human touch.

Where to Start with Automation

Ways to Introduce Bots and AI Gradually

Basic

Focus on a quick win. An AI strategy doesn’t have to be complex to realize the benefits. Start with a focused issue or repeatable task. Design a process that reduces costs and creates better efficiency. Examples include flight status, order status, balance inquiry and address capture. Ensure complete visibility, context and seamless transition to humans for complex issues.

Advanced

Layer in multiple bots, improve machine-learning capabilities and add human support at the right time in the customer journey to expand focus. Choose an open, flexible and scalable platform that enables working with native or third-party bots across channels. To improve customer experience, create a seamless transition between bots and humans while maintaining customer journey history and context. Start with emerging markets, such as Latin America or Asia Pacific, where adoption is higher and ties to business goals for better consumer and agent adoption and satisfaction.

Ways to Introduce IoT

Define a problem statement

Understand the business objective. Consider existing pain points and develop use cases. Include the expected outcome and benefits—increased revenue, reduced costs or TCO, and improved customer experience. Even if reduced costs and lower TCO are the primary expected outcomes, always consider the effect to the customer experience and overall customer journey.

Compute ROI

Consider potential new revenue streams from cross-sell and up-sell. Define operational efficiencies gained against the cost to deliver the new capabilities.

Invest in phases

Start small and fast. Identify quick wins that will get fast results and then move on to more complex workflows that involve multiple systems and teams. Build out a maturity model with defined use cases.

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