Cognitive Engagement: The Future of Customer Experience

The future of customer engagement will be run by a machine.  That is what Forrester predicts for the near future.  Kate Leggett of Forrester states that one of the top trends for 2015 will be that “organizations will look at ways to reduce the manual overhead of traditional knowledge management for customer service.  In doing so, they will explore cognitive engagement solutions — interactive computing systems that use artificial intelligence to collect information, automatically build models of understanding and inference, and communicate in natural ways.”

robot_csrEarlier this year, IBM launched the Watson Engagement Advisor.  It is one of the first of its kind to pave the way for a new way to engage customers.  It “via cognitive computing intellect, can proactively engage with a business’ customers, and continuously learn from interactions, anytime and anywhere, providing fast, more accurate and personalized interactions”.  IBM Watson was the computer that beat former grand-champions on the TV quiz show Jeopardy!.

Where to invest and focus

Obviously not all companies will have IBM Watson in their arsenal to interact with customers providing them with immediate answers to their complex purchasing questions and problem resolutions.  However, many have 2015 goals to solve problems faster and improve relationships with their customers.  Adding artificial intelligence to your self-service website or as an internal tool for agents will transform how companies engage with customers.  As products become more and more complex and the amount of information available grows, the need to hone in on an answer quickly proves increasingly difficult through manual means.  A dialog takes up valuable time to try and get to the right response.  Self-searching can be frustrating if you don’t use the right terminology or give up easily.  The effort the customer has to make using artificial intelligence is greatly reduced and answers are available in a fraction of a second.  It is as if they have their own personal assistant there to answer their questions. It will also allow companies to expand this assistance across multiple channels.

Preparing Your Knowledge Data

The effects of using Cognitive Computing is already leading consumers to demand a new level of engagement and interaction from companies.  One way to help prepare systems for this new capability is to make sure new knowledge is coming in.  Without the data (or knowledge), there won’t be anything to cull through to hand off to customers.  Still some human intervention is needed.  New knowledge needs to be created in order for it to be used by customers and agents.  This will be especially important as companies invest in cognitive engagement systems and start to find that the speed and accuracy of the answers correlate directly to the amount of knowledge within the system.

Make sure processes are in place

Finding ways to focus on the new problems should be part of any knowledge program.  Whether it be analyzing which knowledge base articles are used frequently and exposing them, communicating and training customers on how to find articles on the known issues, or making changes to products that remove the issue completely. Make sure your knowledge program has these processes in place to focus resources on creating new knowledge.

Let the system do the work

The way to evolve how you engage with customers is to reduce the effort they must make to interact with your company. Artificial Intelligence allows a cognitive system to cull through big data for relevant responses while taking into account the nuances of human language.  While there will always be a need for the human touch in solving customers’ problems, the key is to focus on the new problems.  Let the computers take on the ones that already have an answer and can find it a whole lot faster.