Next Generation Automation: The Future Is Now

More than 150 years ago, French author Victor Hugo succinctly summarized the reality that today’s businesses face as they look to the future of automation and how it will impact their customer experience. “The future has many names: For the weak, it means the unattainable. For the fearful, it means the unknown. For the courageous, it means opportunity.”

With the rapid adoption of smartphones and connected devices, the future holds both opportunities and challenges as new methods are developed to handle once-manual tasks. Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), next-generation automation already is using data and insights in new ways to create a seamless, efficient experience.

In the sixth chapter of the Genesys State of Customer Experience report, we uncover how consumers and businesses are preparing for growing automation and their feelings about this transformational shift in customer engagement. We also delve into the continued importance of the human touch as interactions increasingly are handled by bots and devices themselves.

Are Customers Ready for Bots?
With insights from nearly 2,000 consumers and 1,300 business respondents across North America, Europe, Latin American and Asia Pacific, we identified that businesses are acutely aware of the benefits of service automation, particularly when it comes to simple and repetitive tasks. However, consumers are not as enthusiastic about bots handling most interactions.

Insights from the report include:

  • 39% of businesses report that they offer chatbots, and 66% of businesses plan to use some type of chatbot within the next six months. Yet, only 2% of consumers prefer to use them.
  • Emerging countries are more open to bots with the greatest adoption in the Latin America and Asia Pacific regions.
  • Millennials are twice as likely to use bots as consumers between the ages of 35 and 54 and six times more likely than consumers who are 55 and over.

While most consumers still prefer to speak with a human agent to solve more complex issues, Advancements in Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and machine learning are making AI technologies more appealing. This has been made clear by the rapid adoption of technologies like Siri, Alexa and Google, indicating that consumers are open to new ways to streamline engagement.

The Impact of IoT
According to data from McKinsey & Company, the potential economic impact of the IoT could reach $11 trillion per year in 2025. This growth is being fueled by the measurable business benefits that IoT can deliver, including improved customer experience, employee engagement and business optimization. With the potential for automated intelligence virtually endless, there are significant opportunities that are already beginning to be leveraged by leaders in the automotive, healthcare, retail and electronics industries.

Yet, businesses must closely monitor how consumers feel about devices that communicate on their behalf to ensure their beliefs are aligned with plans to use IoT devices. Reflected in the Genesys State of Customer Experience Report, consumers’ comfort with IoT devices lags businesses’ adoption of them.

  • 42% of businesses indicated that they have projects in progress to build systems that communicate with IoT sensors and devices with another 32% having plans to do so within the next six months.
  • However, only 19% of consumers are completely comfortable with having IoT devices communicate on their behalf, and almost one-third are uncomfortable with the idea.

Building consumer confidence will be important as automated IoT devices are introduced. Adoption will grow if consumers are shown that new IoT processes solve problems faster and more efficiently. Consumers also want choices and resent feeling trapped by automation. Thus, it’s important to blend the human touch into any automated system or process and to consider the effect of automation on the customer experience, as well as the overall customer journey.

Read chapter six of the Genesys State of Customer Experience report to gain deeper insights on next-generation automation and stay tuned as we continue to share more from this comprehensive report.