Artificial intelligence, combined with Automation, has an incredible ability to simplify and perform tasks like ordering, searching and reporting. But deployed in the wrong way, it has the potential to damage the customer experience. In this article: David Pattman, Managing Director CX Services at Gobeyond Partners, part of the Webhelp Group looks at future of AI and the untapped potential for it augment human performance.

Across the Globe, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming a seamless part of every significant system. Digital world leader Estonia is bringing AI systems into their courts, whilst in the US, organisations like the Air Force, Social Security and the Environmental Protection Agency are already using AI and machine learning algorithms to improve performance.

Lilli Cheng, corporate vice president of Microsoft AI & Research Artificial intelligence, agrees viewing AI as one of the hottest, least understood and most debated technological breakthroughs in modern times. Writing for Time magazine, she says:

“In many ways, the magic of AI is that it’s not something you can see or touch. You may not even realize you are using it today. When your Nest thermostat knows how to set the right temperature at home or when your phone automatically corrects your grammar or when a Tesla car navigates a road autonomously – that’s AI at work.”

Wherever we go today, AI is a constant and invisible companion
Photo Credit: Talles Alves/Unsplash

While the growth of AI has recently captured media attention, the technology has been steadily developing for over 60 years. American AI pioneer Arthur Samuel Arthur Lee Samuel coined the term “machine learning” way back in 1959!

We know that AI is practically unavoidable in modern living, but should we assume that consumers want their Brand interactions to be as simple and impersonal as asking Alexa to “play me a song?” or saying “Okay Google, where is my nearest takeaway?”

The research indicates otherwise. Our YouGov study of over 2000 people, the vast majority said they would choose to speak to a human over an AI-fuelled customer service advisor.

Despite this, I believe that the key to success will be found in collaboration – human advisors working alongside AI will drive innovation forward and dramatically improve our social and working lives. It will also allow businesses to enjoy increased productivity and efficiency without negatively impacting the customer experience.

Paul R. Daugherty, author and business technology futurist, is right on the money in this Harvard Business Review article:

“Smart machines are helping humans expand their abilities in three ways. They can amplify our cognitive strengths; interact with customers and employees to free us for higher-level tasks; and embody human skills to extend our physical capabilities”

Companies now recognise the degree to which AI and Automation can streamline operations, cut costs and increase productivity. But these technologies should not – for many types of customer requirements – be at the expense of the human touch.

A combined approach to human and AI customer experience could be a very successful one, as the Harvard Business Review explains:

While AI will radically alter how work gets done and who does it, the technology’s larger impact will be in complementing and augmenting human capabilities, not replacing them.”

However mankind will still be in the driving seat – as Jason Jackson, assistant professor in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning reveals:

“We really control the future of ways of AI and machine learning will be built into work,” said “We can think about ways machine learning can be used to complement existing work, and make it even better.” Source Tech Republic

The implications are vast, however company culture and established thinking must be flexible to create an optimal hybrid workforce.

In short, tomorrow’s winners will be companies that understand that when it comes to designing services, organisations and systems, the mantra should be ‘collaboration is key’. At Webhelp, we can help you discover what inspires and influences your customers to build the ideal balance between human autonomy and automation.

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