How AI Will Impact the Employee Experience
While artificial intelligence (AI) is already improving the customer experience, it will dramatically improve the employee experience over the next decade. Tedious tasks that once took agents hours upon hours to complete—be it boring data entry or replying to repetitive questions—will be relegated to computers. Along with its subfield of machine learning (ML), there are numerous ways in which AI will impact the employee experience and boost employee satisfaction, in turn helping them create a best-in-class customer experience.
AI will make the role of customer service agent far more rewarding and enjoyable. “When you put the employee first,” explains Harald Henn, CEO of Marketing Resultant. “It can help turn the modern contact center workplace into a synergistic powerhouse where people produce consistently incredible results. Who is going to go out of their way for your customer—an employee who is underpaid, overworked, and doesn’t feel appreciated? Or an employee who’s treated like a valued member of the company?” There is power in exceeding employee expectations.
Genuine Happiness via Artificial Intelligence
When it comes to how AI can make employees happier, Henn brings up some of the biggest factors that make an employee frustrated and unhappy, including tasks filled with monotonous repetition and too much time spent info-searching across numerous systems. He points out that “AI can support employees by eliminating tedious search tasks. AI-based ‘internal search systems’ will find relevant information in a fraction of the time.” AI chatbots will handle those simple, monotonous tasks in real-time, freeing the employee from the tedium of repetition and creating a more positive employee experience.
How AI Can Help with Demanding, Even Angry, Customers
Another example of how AI can help reduce employee stress is when customers get angry or become very demanding. Employees feel pressure from the customer to find the necessary information as fast as possible. And during peak days or seasonal rushes, answering the same question 8100 times a day doesn’t make any employee happy. AI will eliminate most if not all these transactions, such as delivery status questions, freeing up customer service representatives to focus on the more complex, rewarding tasks that require human attention and a deep understanding of customer needs.
In her blog How AI Will Improve the Employee Experience This Decade, Kaila Krayewski shares, “The capabilities of AI can go far beyond automating simple, repetitive tasks if we consider how AI can work together with humans to create a team of what are essentially super employees. AI will also help to guide employees through more complex customer journeys.”
Krayewski believes AI will be a supportive, cooperative ally to agents, doing everything from offering advice to initiating related processes to updating CRM info. “And as chatbots and virtual agents are adopted more widely and become better, automation rates will increase, escalation rates will decrease, customer service will become more efficient, and everyone will be happier.”
And Henn predicts, “AI chatbots will identify a customer’s intent, and based upon what the customer needs, pass this request on to robotic process automation (RPA).” At times, AI will even successfully take care of requests without an employee being aware of it. “This will give a lot of extra time for employees to do what human beings can do best: engage with a customer, empathize, and build a strong relationship.”
Krayewski agrees. “Improving the employee experience can boost your business in a big way. It’s clear that AI can make employees happier. By taking away repetitive tasks, AI can work together with humans to augment their work, making them faster and more effective at every task.” Krayewski also believes AI will boost employee engagement. It will allow team members to bring their best traits to the workplace, with less focus on routine tasks leading to more time for solving customer issues and genuinely being there for them on an emotional level. Employees will bring the best of their humanity to each customer interaction. In theory, at least, this scenario will work well for everyone, particularly frontline employees. Competitive advantage and positive impact on employee retention seem all but guaranteed.
The Potential Business Impact of Ignoring New Technologies
Organizations have tried numerous strategies to cope with the lack of human labor—everything from reducing their operating hours to raising wages to offering four-day work weeks. But recently they have hit upon a new strategy, one that has them saying “What labor shortage? Use AI.”
*Related – What Labor Shortage? Use AI
“Those that choose to ignore the power of new AI tools may not last long enough to get to that point. There will be new jobs created and many that could be permanently disrupted, perhaps reviving debates about universal incomes and pressure for skills training,” says Diane Brady, assistant managing editor at Forbes.
ChatGPT: AI on Steroids
“Generative AI, algorithms that generate fresh images, sounds, and content that dazzlingly–and often disturbingly–ends up being as good or better than what humans can create on our own,” continues Brady. “The most heralded of the bunch thus far–not to mention the fastest-growing consumer internet application in history, with more than 100 million users—is ChatGPT. Launched by OpenAI in November 2022, the chatbot is editing research papers, passing business school exams, composing music, and proving to be a terrific customer-service rep, coder, marketer, and therapist to all.”
Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer (ChatGPT) is a chatbot built on language models powered by and trained on massive amounts of data. ChatGPT offers detailed responses and articulate answers across many domains of knowledge. Its factual accuracy needs work, however.
Things ChatGPT can do:
- #1 job: mimic human conversation
- Write and debug computer programs
- Compose music, teleplays, fairy tales, poetry, song lyrics, and student essays
- Answer test questions (sometimes better than the average human test-taker)
- Emulate a Linux operating system
- Play games e.g., tic-tac-toe
- Simulate an ATM
- Offer more nuanced answers; it doesn’t trust every query it gets, e.g., when offered an untrue premise about Christopher Columbus arriving in the U.S. in 2015, it acknowledged the “lie” and framed the answer as what might have happened if CC arrived in that year
Unlike its predecessor, ChatGPT can remember things previously said in a conversation and tries to reduce harmful/deceitful responses. Queries get filtered through its parent company’s technology to eliminate racial and sexist prompts.
Doing More with Less Humanity
The impact of automation cannot be denied. There is no arguing that machines and AI are faster, cheaper, and more efficient. And they make fewer mistakes than humans. When a bank started using chatbots to handle more than 1.5 million claim requests each year, it found that the work of 85 bots was equal to the output of 200 full-time human employees…at only 30 percent of the cost.
The Great Re-shuffle
The Great Re-shuffle refers to employees who not only quit their companies but totally left the industry they were working in. As you can see by the graph, the ones hit the hardest by the Great Re-shuffle are the ones that require employees to physically come to work, e.g., retail, hospitality, manufacturing, salons, fitness clubs, and health care. Working from home is not an option for most of these industries, and employee burnout rates are high.
As a result, organizations impacted most by the Great Re-shuffle will have to get creative in providing a great customer experience with less labor. For instance, the future of fast-casual restaurants will be less dependent on servers working a set of tables, and more on self-service kiosks/iPads on the table and/or an app customers can use to place their orders, then either pick it up themselves or have dining room runners bring it out to them. Businesses will also need to offer superior digital employee experiences (DEX), defined by behavioral science firm BetterUp as “encompassing every aspect of an employee’s interaction with technology”. Technology might be linking workplace experiences more and more, but it will still need to provide humans with ease, clarity, and reliability.
The Rise of Virtual Receptionists
A growing trend in salon/spas and doctor offices are virtual receptionists. Like a traditional receptionist, instead of being a full-time employee working onsite, they work remotely. Virtual receptionists can be responsible for handling all the duties of a receptionist. They can answer incoming calls, take messages, transfer calls, make outgoing calls, schedule appointments, and so much more. And they do it all from a remote location. A virtual receptionist can check in customers or patients and answer any questions through a video screen that is stationed in the reception area. They can even direct a customer or patient to a thoughtfully provided—albeit self-service—coffee station.
Everything is provided…except, perhaps, the warmth of human interaction.
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
“For all the promise of digital media to bring people together, I still believe that the most sincere, lasting powers of human connection come from looking directly into someone else’s eyes, with no screen in between.”
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