How might it look to have a truly incredible customer experience?

When you’re traveling, it could be a hotel that automatically recognizes you, prepares the room based on your personal preferences, and stays in touch while you’re on your way to the destination. When your flight is delayed, the hotel sends an SMS message to confirm an updated time for your ride from the airport. Updating the arrangements is as easy as a quick text back.

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Amazing doesn't start with technology. ‘Amazing’ starts with people.

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When you’re investigating options for next year’s Medicare plan, it could be a provider website that invites you to take a streamlined, personalized journey with a phy-gital experience. The customer interacts with a human who is guided by artificial intelligence (AI) providing a step-by-step interaction that guides you through key questions and answers to identify the best choices – and eliminates the need to wade through often confusing plan details.

Or when you’re stressed because you’ve lost your job and need to apply for state unemployment benefits, it could be proactive text or WhatsApp messages that keep you apprised of your application status and next steps. A welcome alternative to hours spent on hold, no?  

These are just a few examples of what’s already possible. Whether you’re responsible for supporting sales, customer care or operations journeys, how can you deliver the amazing experiences your customers crave?

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There’s no question that AI plays a key role. It’s evolving at a breathtaking pace–even faster than Moore’s Law, according to experts at Stanford University–and it’s increasingly modular and accessible. With the right platform, you can now gather “blocks” of AI or machine learning functionality and build a creation that meets your needs.

And yet, “amazing” doesn’t start with technology. “Amazing” starts with people.

After all, people in your workforce are the ones with the domain knowledge necessary to shape AI-powered experiences and train the machines that will work in the background. Domain experts may contribute their knowledge of an industry (e.g., medical doctors informing AI for claims processing), a set of technologies (e.g., network engineers training AI on optimization) or a particular business process (e.g., health insurance experts shaping accurate, compliant interactions for plan selection). These humans must collaborate with the AI technologists to annotate every step of an experience – building the ontology that will guide what the AI does, how it learns and how it interacts with the humans it supports.

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People in your workforce are also the ones who work at the front lines as sales and service agents and field technicians. These workers will bring the AI-powered experiences to life. When many people hear “AI” in the context of sales or customer service, they think of virtual assistants like chatbots or voice assistants. The real opportunity is AI agent assist – using machines to empower people to have better, faster and more satisfying interactions with customers and prospects.

To deliver amazing experiences, your people will teach your AI and learn from it, too, as you infuse best practices into the tools. They will also be the ones who create your experience solutions, maintain them and continually improve them.

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No matter what experiences you’re crafting, look for a modular platform that you can shape according to your needs, that integrates with your existing systems, and that offers the speed and flexibility advantages of the cloud.

In upcoming posts, I’ll spend time with some of the folks who are working with organizations to bring this vision to life. Until then, see more on Customer, Sales and Service.

John Bolze

Senior Managing Director – Global AI Customer Experience Lead

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