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BizReport : Ecommerce : May 26, 2020

How adding emotion into AI can produce better CX

More and more consumers are turning to text and social media to solve customer experience and customer service issues. To help solve issues in a timely manner, many businesses have added Artificial Intelligence to route communications and even solve more minor issues. The problem is that AI can leave some feeling more frustrated. That's why, according to one expert, brands need to change AI to AEI - Artificial Emotional Intelligence. Here's how.

by Kristina Knight

Kristina: How does Artificial Emotional Intelligence differ from 'standard' AI?

Chris Bauserman, VP, Segment and Product Marketing, NICE inContact: Artificial intelligence (AI) has already reshaped how brands communicate with customers by enabling them to make more timely and personalized connections. Moving forward, these interactions will become even more nuanced through artificial emotional intelligence (AEI). While AI aggregates and analyzes data, offering recommendations based on previous interactions and context, AEI technology, though still being developed, adds an extra layer of empathy to the customer experience. AEI helps agents understand the emotional state of the customer and nuanced communication preferences, like how much a particular customer uses emojis. With that added insight, brands can adapt customer service responses to best suit each situation.

Kristina: What is the importance of AEI in the current digital landscape?

Chris: Once thought of as an "asset of the future," the ability to provide emotional intelligence within the context of a customer interaction has now become a necessity for business success during the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers' emotions continue to run high and AEI can detect crucial nuances in these emotions that may indicate the necessity for a very careful reply. For example, with anxieties running high, many consumers will have a generally "negative" sentiment, but that doesn't mean that they are displeased with your particular brand or service. But, if you're able to detect "high frustration" in the interaction, then that is an important indicator that an escalation may need to happen, as that emotion is highly correlated to poor CSAT and NPS.

Essentially, by recognizing the emotions that humans experience in difficult situations, AEI is able to tailor the solutions offered to best address the pain points of that particular situation, so that each customer feels individually cared for.

Kristina: Once the COVID crisis has calmed, will AEI continue to be of importance?

Chris: Soon-to-be-released, proprietary data from NICE inContact found that 92% of contact centers have reported increased volume of interactions of all types over the past year, with 62% reporting an increase in digital interactions, specifically. Understandably, many businesses have faced challenges in keeping up with this increased inbound customer volume -- AI self-service can help, but in times of crisis, such as right now, it is also more important than ever to not just process interactions, but to demonstrate empathy.

That said, both in the immediate and long-term future, emotional intelligence will be established as an essential capability for successful customer experience teams. Marrying emotional intelligence with AI-driven technology ensures that rich customer interactions are able to happen organically and at-scale. To provide a non-COVID-specific example, for global organizations that may have geographically siloed contact centers, AEI is able to take cross-cultural differences into account when providing agents with insights and recommended action steps. An agent in the United States may not have the full cultural context necessary for a successful interaction when engaging with a customer in Singapore, but in this situation, AEI can help to address the knowledge gap by sharing data-driven insights about previous interactions and socio-demographic profiles. The result is a more holistic understanding of the customer as an individual. This new take on the digital-first customer experience allows brands to build impactful and lasting relationships versus one-off touchpoints. That longevity and sustainability are what lead to greater customer relationships and valuable returns.

Kristina: How can brands adjust their strategy in using AI to become more emotive?

Chris: Brands with an AI strategy already in place can use those capabilities to amplify emotional intelligence. The concept of AI improving emotional intelligence might sound like a paradox, but agents and self-service channels can greatly benefit from real-time and historical sentiment analysis. This added analysis takes the guesswork out of reading emotions - especially on phone calls or text-based digital interactions. For example, in self-service channels, this information can diagnose when an experience is not as satisfying or as useful as an agent-assisted interaction would be. If and when a live agent is needed, sentiment analysis can recognize the urgency and route the customer accordingly.

Tags: AI trends, artificial emotional intelligence, artificial intelligence strategy, CX trends, ecommerce, ecommerce CX, NICE inContact

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