Is Your Organization Ready to Implement AI?
By Paul Smith, CEO
This past week, while developing my marketing budget, I took another look at a range of Customer Service organizations to assess three things: first, to see specifically which organizations are pushing members to embrace and understand AI and how it can improve performance. Second, to take stock of which organizations are currently investing in real-world applications of AI and related education opportunities that would allow their members to smoothly transition into the new customer service landscape AI is creating. Third, I wanted to look at which places are helping employees apply the changes AI brings to their interactions with customers. Running a company in the conversational AI space, it is crucial to, every so often, get the lay of the land.
What I discovered this time around surprised me: Despite posting links to articles dispelling the myth that AI will take human jobs, despite holding upcoming conference sessions about AI, and, perhaps most importantly, despite recognition of studies showing their customers prefer voice in only 50% of interactions, none of the Customer Service organizations I examined had a chatbot on their web site. Not a single one!
What message does this disconnect send? If organizations admit the relevance and future prominence of AI technology, why not integrate these technologies now? Without integration at even the most basic level (chatbots are easy!), what is the purpose of discussing AI? I ask these questions not to sound hostile, but because the shift to AI is already in progress. It’s happening right now, not in some far-off future. While I applaud organizations for starting these discussions, we run the risk of falling behind, of becoming outmoded, if we do not follow up our talk with action.
Reentering the Contact Center market, I’ve seen a large degree of hesitation and resistance to the changes AI brings. The arguments I hear remind me of people and institutions that balked at past tech innovations, like widespread use of PCs and the potential of the Internet. Throughout the 80s and 90s, I encountered many who:
- thought it impossible to run organizational data on a platform other than a mainframe
- who didn’t believe relational data structures could handle large data sets
- who saw PCs as a fad, or at best a household toy
- who thought the internet wasn’t secure enough for commerce, and that consumers would never buy upscale/high-cost items online
- who thought the same about mobile devices
It’s easy enough to look back at these sentiments and chuckle, because we have the benefit of the perspective that decades bring. The purpose of this blog, however, is not to mock, but to help my reader ask themselves which of their opinions/beliefs about AI will make people chuckle twenty years from now?
My work in tech over the past 30 years has been grounded in disruptive technologies (alternatives to mainframe computing, the Internet, AI). Rarely have I seen the implementation of these innovative and disruptive systems negatively impact the clients I have served. My job today, just as it has been in the past, is to push people to look at things that seem scary but will provide myriad benefits once adopted. Think of this blog as a gentle push forward. Changes in customer expectations happen fast, and many customers expect self-service options powered by AI. Those who do not already soon will. If you’re struggling to envision AI implementation (chatbots, voice assistants), you’re already behind the curve. But fear not! There’s still time to catch up.
This is a critical juncture, one that requires we ask ourselves difficult questions:
- Will I be an early adopter of AI technologies?
- Do I see the potential of AI?
- Will I recognize that a massive paradigm shift is taking place and adapt accordingly?
- Or will I hold fast to tried and true systems?
The skills and systems that got us to where we are today, while valuable, are not the only skills and systems needed in the future (or the present) of Customer Support. Change can be scary, but it’s here whether we’re ready for it or not.
Founder & CEO
Paul has 35+ years in executive leadership, sales management, and business management. He is an entrepreneur with a passion for inclusivity, giving back (InfinitAI gives 1% of profits to charity), and for improving the world with technology. His last 10 years in artificial intelligence and bots has fueled his desire to improve the way bots work with humans for the betterment of business and customer satisfaction.