How to balance people and bots in your retail service experience

One of the greatest stumbling blocks for organisations is the transition from an AI-based interaction to live agent assistance. When done poorly, the effects ripple across both the customer and agent experience. But, when the right balance is achieved, and the two systems work in harmony, both the agent and customer experience are elevated. It’s important to thoughtfully consider the customer’s journey, in its entirety, and design the transitions with that full experience in mind.

Contact Centre CLUB

An example of such a balance is often seen in bespoke retail purchase experiences:

1. Retailers create a AI-powered self-service portal that collects important customer data and preference information. This is often the first touch point.

2. Customers receive informational emails, a proactive outreach, and a personalised quote based on their preferences. The agent is well-informed and appropriately positioned to deliver a level of service that is best left unautomated.

3. Through the remainder of the experience, documents are shared (and signed) digitally, updates frequently occur through an app, or another self-service channel, but the assigned agent provides care – and an offer of accessibility – throughout the experience.

Ensuring that the human touch is delivered well requires an understanding of your agent’s expectations. At the most basic level, agents want clearly defined expectations that make sense and aren’t designed to burn them out. They also want to have the tools, resources, and training to perform their job to expectations.

This means two fundamental things in relation to artificial intelligence:

1. Agents want AI systems to handle the repetitive tasks that may otherwise burn them out. They also need to know that they can always trust the AI systems to have the most accurate, up-to-date information.

2. Agents need context and visibility into the customer’s journey. Additionally, they genuinely want to help their customers, but can’t do it if their systems are disconnected and inefficient. If customers can’t seamlessly move from AI to assisted-service, it’s the agents who face the adversity and angst of overcoming technological and process shortcomings. That just further drives their frustration, dissatisfaction, and lack of engagement.

Through powerful integrations with intelligent technologies, companies can combat this by enabling contact centres to powerfully integrate and inform the customer journey. Using natural language processing to interact and understand human conversation, and seamlessly transferring conversations to a live agent, the right AI engine provides full context to the agent. For this reason, it’s important for contact centres to partner with an AI technology partner who realises that artificial intelligence must rise to a new level and, and that’s able to power everything from purchases to customer support with AI-powered technology.

While there isn’t a cookie cutter approach to artificial intelligence, the organisations who thoughtfully consider the needs of their customers and employees, and understand the various touchpoints of the customer journey, and are willing to refine and finesse as they move along, will find themselves getting closer and closer to the best blend of AI and live agents for their unique contact centre situation.

About IFS-mplsystems

At IFS-mplsystems our vision is ‘to make complex service simple’: we design and deliver omni-channel contact centre, CRM Customer Service and AI enabled virtual assistance and self-service solutions. What sets us apart is our flexible configurability, which provides the ability to deliver process-centric, integrated applications in a matter of weeks, as opposed to the months or years that is typical of alternative customised solutions. End user configurability ensures clients can continue to evolve their applications as customer service priorities change. Following an acquisition in August 2017, IFS-mplsystems is part of IFS, the global enterprise applications company. This has strengthened our reach and resources, bringing our end-to-end customer service software solution to the world stage.

About IFS

IFS™ develops and delivers enterprise software for customers around the world who manufacture and distribute goods, maintain assets, and manage service-focused operations. The industry expertise of our people and solutions, together with commitment to our customers, has made us a recognized leader and the most recommended supplier in our sector. Our team of 3,500 employees supports more than one million users worldwide from a network of local offices and through our growing ecosystem of partners. For more information, visit:

IFS-mplsystems is a pioneer in the contact center space and IFS is thrilled with this accomplishment, which was secured even before IFS-mplsystems became part of IFS. Now as a member of the IFS family, the combined IFS-mplsystems will be supported by an international network of teams that can execute the IFS-mplsystems vision on a more global scale.