The ‘AI Butler’ with Barry Cooper, President of NICE

Customer experience platform NICE predicts that AI will evolve into an improved customer assistant, with businesses harnessing it to improve productivity

Throughout 2023, AI has advanced at such a rate that businesses are fighting to keep up to harness the technology to its full potential.

In particular, what has been realised is an ‘AI as copilot’ strategy that sees the technology working alongside human workforces to support their daily workloads. In fact, generative AI (GenAI) tools are keeping enterprises ahead of competitors, transforming business models and unlocking new value for customers.

NICE President, CX Division, Barry Cooper offers some insight into how the AI and cloud landscape could look in 2024, as well as how the technology can be enhanced to offer customers the best possible experience.

‘The AI Butler’ and the peak of cloud adoption

The upcoming year could be a new era for AI. NICE envisions that AI will evolve into a complete customer assistant: The ‘AI Butler’. For instance, Microsoft’s Copilot tool acts as a digital assistant to help transform global business efficiencies.

“AI will give customers a highly personalised single point of contact for all inquiries, serving as an ‘AI Butler’ capable of dealing with multiple requests across different platforms and businesses,” Cooper says. “This will break down one of the major frictions in customer service: siloed interactions with brands, necessitating multiple phone calls and putting undue strain on contact centres.”

He adds: “The AI butler will allow customers to schedule a car appointment, swap out their new shoes for a different size and inquire about an insurance issue during one seamless, interconnected interaction.”  

Advancements in AI could also lead to a 70% increase in what Cooper describes as “cloudification” in customer experience (CX) in 2024. He highlights that companies will continue to realise the necessity of bringing their operations to the cloud to fully utilise AI and thereby succeed in their digital transformations.

“Organisations will also no longer be able to manage their complicated tech stack of patchwork solutions,” Cooper says.

“In the age of AI, organisations can’t afford to operate like this any longer. They need their data to be easily accessible and shareable. Organisations will move to adopt a single, open cloud interaction platform allowing organisations to seamlessly connect 3rd party resources with native capabilities on the platform.

“Next year, we anticipate that many businesses will struggle to optimise AI tools for their needs,” Cooper says. “Intelligently communicating with customers, supporting contact centre agents, and operating in the cloud at scale are all vital parts of successful CX. Only AI which has been purpose-built and trained on millions of customer interactions will be suitable and trustworthy to manage a business’s CX efficiently and effectively.”

AI as a tool: The future of customer service

NICE also predicts that AI regulation will work to magnify the strength of purpose-built AI for CX. “AI legislation in the US and EU will weed out generic, poorly built AI,” Cooper says.

“AI providers will not be able to get away with AI that hallucinates and/or generates inappropriate responses. AI regulation will promote the new standard: purpose-built AI created with the proper guardrails. When it comes to customer service this means AI that is domain-specific and built from rich CX data, ensuring that responses that are generated are accurate, relevant and appropriate.”

He also predicts that contact centre agents will work alongside AI every day, thereby creating efficiencies as well as growing pains. Cooper says: “We will see a 75% increase in the use of blended agents managing both digital and voice interactions. Reflecting the growth in digital channels, more contact centre agents will be required to do both. 

“AI is a vital tool to manage this complexity, increase productivity, eliminate mundane tasks, and elevate the customer experience. We predict that agents who embrace AI in their daily workflows will outperform their counterparts, being able to handle 50% more interactions and produce 30% higher CSAT scores.”  

He adds: “While this has great benefits for customers, it will place additional strain on agents. Our research suggested that 84% of workers believe it is harder and more expensive to retain digital and back-office agents than voice agents. Combine this with growing fears that AI will replace them, and businesses will need to ensure that they pay close attention to the happiness of their staff and the overall attrition rate. 

“It will be vital to offer robust educational opportunities to re-train employees to thrive in the age of AI.” 

With widespread GenAI improvement throughout 2023, customers may not be able to tell the difference between human-assisted and unassisted interactions moving forward, according to Cooper. He says: “As conversational AI rapidly advances to mirror the same quality of customer experience generated by humans, we will see a 60% decrease in the number of calls into contact centres. Customers [will] trust they can use digital channels to resolve their issues.”

He adds: “2024 will be the year of digital self-service.”  

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