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Businesses need to strike a balance between human and automation support


By : Vasudeva Rao Munnaluri, RVP India & SAARC, Zendesk

How businesses can benefit from democratising AI and meet rising customer expectations

What are Zendesk’s key offerings?

A core tenet at Zendesk is that every good relationship stems from a meaningful conversation between a brand and a customer. That’s why our products are designed to improve customer relationships. Every interaction between a brand and customer is part of an ongoing, continuous conversation. Zendesk Suite enables just that. It creates a single source of truth with the right context on the channels they prefer, including messaging, chat, email, phone, and everything in between. With a unified agent workspace, our solutions set support teams up for success, ensuring businesses are able to operate with the flexibility they need to implement it quickly and easily.

Businesses of all sizes use Zendesk to set their teams up for success. With the right balance of simplicity and sophistication, businesses use Zendesk’s support and sales solutions to provide seamless customer experiences. For enterprises, it proves cost-effective while increasing customer loyalty with faster deployments times, enabling companies to iterate in real-time. For small and medium businesses, our products help them scale and adapt to customer preferences, streamline workflows and provide the necessary insights for decision-making.

At a time when businesses are getting more cautious about what technologies to invest in, what are the factors business leaders need to consider while choosing the right technology tailored to their business?

Organizations often measure CX success with the number of tools they are using. But delivering great CX and driving true value from it requires a slightly different approach. The questions businesses need to ask when choosing the right technology are — What are you trying to accomplish in your business? And how can we relate that to customer support? This requires businesses to take a customer-first approach to IT, while pairing it with a core business understanding to lay the foundation for a customer-centric company. Having a customer-centric culture means that a company’s actions and decisions directly reflect the ultimate goal of customer satisfaction – and this mindset can lead to higher-quality services that drive deeper loyalty.

The other factor to consider is whether the technology can integrate seamlessly into your existing tech stack. It is inevitable that customer data often comes from multiple sources, particularly as businesses rightly provide multiple touch points for customer engagements. But having accessible real-time data on the customer is the backbone of delivering great CX. To avoid silos, it’s important to connect all data sources, processes and custom logic on an open, flexible platform in order to meet and exceed customer needs at every pivotal moment.

Why is balancing human-automation strategy crucial for Indian businesses? 

When it comes to AI or automation, there has been a common misunderstanding that such technologies are out to replace the human workforce. But this couldn’t be more wrong. Businesses need to be thinking about integrating AI into existing workflows as it poses a massive growth opportunity. A balanced human-automation strategy considers how AI and automation can enhance the customer experience, while also enabling support agents effectively.

Every company has certain customer queries that are most common. AI can help address those repetitive queries. At the same time, high-quality data derived from data analytics reduces the margins of error while addressing common concerns. With automation deployed to handle repetitive tasks, agents and employees can dedicate more time to queries that need a human touch and higher-level thinking. This ensures larger volumes of tickets are resolved quickly and seamlessly.

AI has the added benefit of providing agents with customer context required for interactions even before an inquiry even reaches them. Using AI-powered tools enables agents to meet customers’ expectations and provide a consistent and personalized user experience. Another core tenet of a balanced human-automation strategy is seamless handoffs between chatbots and agents. This ensures customers do not have to repeat themselves. When deployed right, AI and automation can enhance the human support experience, while reducing agent burnout.

What are the metrics businesses need to consider while investing in CX technologies amidst rising customer expectations?

The most common metrics to measure CX success are Customer Satisfaction Ratings (CSAT), Customer Effort Score (CES), and Net Promoter Score (NPS). While these give a glimpse of CX performance in terms of resolution times, wait times and first response time, it overlooks a vital aspect – employee satisfaction. Employees after all are a company’s ‘internal customers’, and are just as powerful and relevant to business success. In fact, a study by KPMG shows businesses that invest in EX are four times more profitable than those that don’t. When employees are happy, they’re more likely to deliver the best interactions for customers, creating a better experience for all.

Every organization regardless of its size is different and the metrics to measure CX – and EX – will largely depend on their long term and short term goals, priorities and available resources. There cannot be a one-size fits all approach to CX but a step in the right direction is to establish a shared focus of having a strategic overview of where they are and where they want to be — in the next two years, five years or even longer. 

What are the benefits of democratizing access to AI?

AI has grown more sophisticated over the past decade, particularly in customer service. It continues to hold massive potential for how it can improve the customer and agent experience, and each year our Zendesk CX Trends research shows more and more businesses and customers expecting to use and interact with AI. But our recent CX Accelerator report found that less than half of Indian companies (47%) are currently using AI to help their service teams become more efficient. One major reason for this could be that AI solutions are often costly, time-consuming and require developer skills to implement and maintain.

Zendesk’s vision is to create accessible CX AI for companies of all sizes. Our latest tools help relieve the burden off CX teams through pre-trained machine learning tools that do more faster and with less guesswork involved. These models come ready to use instantly, and continue to learn over time and become customized to each company’s operations by continuously incorporating feedback. At a time where customers’ expectations are rising, companies are increasingly facing pressure to get their digital experiences right, and those that can easily identify intent, extract sentiment and categorize customer segments in real-time are better positioned for long term success..

How is Zendesk helping businesses harness the power of AI and balancing their automation strategies?

In the realm of CX, AI does best in three areas – automation, recommendation and prediction. Zendesk has been innovating in these aspects with Answer Bot, Content Cues, suggested macros and more. Now, we’re leaning into expanding AI’s reach even further by democratizing access to AI through a vertical lens for better personalisation.

Combining insights from our trillions of data points, we apply a vertical lens to create a unique model for each customer, one that is capable of identifying the intent, language and sentiment of each customer interaction. This unique approach to applying machine learning creates more personalized and informed interactions to better serve customers. With Zendesk’s Intelligent Triage and Smart Assist, businesses will have a foundational understanding from one solid, robust data set out-of-the-box that all businesses in that industry can use.

With this technology, Zendesk aims to offer a unified intelligent platform that reduces the burden on support teams while paving the way for better and more personalized conversations.

Which are the sectors that are showing a faster adoption of AI?

Businesses in India still have ways to go when it comes to adopting AI. According to NASSCOM, – less than 15% have aligned their AI strategy with the broader corporate strategy and  enterprise spending on AI has been low with 67% allocating less than 10% of their IT budget to AI. But the future looks bright. Companies are realizing the value and potential AI has to unlock business growth. In India, four key sectors are expected to contribute roughly 60% of potential AI-driven value to India’s GDP by 2026 – Industrial and automotive, e-commerce, healthcare, retail and the BFSI.

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