More than 90 percent of companies with global brand recognition and high levels of customer satisfaction use artificial intelligence (AI) solutions to increase customer satisfaction. From sales to healthcare to transportation, many industries are abuzz with talk of how to leverage AI technology in their businesses. And for good reason – AI can help to improve your business processes, your relationships with your employees and clients and your bottom line.
So What Is AI?
As much excitement as there is about AI, some professionals still find it difficult to explain just what it is. AI is defined as “the theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making and translation between languages.” Or put more simply, AI is a computer performing a task normally completed by a human.
Recent AI Advancements in Payments
In the payments industry, AI technology is making improvements in three major ways. Each helps to make the customer experience seamless, simple and fast:
- Automating digital and physical tasks. Automating simple tasks like data entry or compiling financial reports, which are usually completed by employees, can help reduce human error and free up employees’ time to tackle more complex customer service issues – a win for your company, employees and customers.
- Engaging employees and customers using natural language processing chat bots, intelligent agents and machine learning. Natural language processing is the ability of a computer program to understand human language as it is spoken. It gives Millennial-aged consumers, who tend to avoid speaking to a live representative on the phone, the ability to pay their bill in the way that’s most comfortable and convenient to them.
- Using algorithms to detect patterns in vast volumes of data. AI allows us to analyze extremely large data sets, like sales records, payments transactions, social media activity and habits, to reveal patterns, trends and associations. Uncovering patterns, like when and how someone usually makes a payment, gives companies invaluable data about their customers’ habits and therefore allows them to better service those customers.
Challenges and Barriers to Adoption
With all the advantages AI presents, this technology is not without its challenges. The technology is in its infancy, and there are many areas for improvement. And as AI is used to complete more complex tasks, there are gaps in its ease of use.
Still, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology was once in its infancy as well, but in the last few years it has improved so much that 27 percent of consumers aren’t sure if their last customer service interaction was with a human or chatbot. Moreover, IVR today can be used as a backup to help explore and further develop AI capabilities, so that in the coming years, companies and consumers alike will be more comfortable with the budding technology.
Looking to the Future
Consumers are still growing accustomed to AI technology. More than half of adults aged 18+ say they would trust AI to set up alerts or reminders, however, as tasks become more complex or involve more risk, consumers subsequently become less trusting. Yet research suggests that verbal bill pay (making a transaction by speaking) could continue to trend upward thanks to consumers’ growing familiarity with digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home, which are consumer-friendly and familiar manifestations of AI. Moreover, there is evidence to suggest that simple transactions, which most bills are, might go screenless.
Is Your Business Ready?
As you explore integrating AI (or any new and emerging technology) into your business, be sure to walk through the following checklist to ensure a seamless implementation. All emerging technology your company adopts should:
- Improve business outcomes – There’s a tendency for companies to jump to adopt whatever the latest trending technology is, but adopting technology for the sake of technology doesn’t improve your business or your bottom line. Do your homework first.
- Stable – A technology becomes more stable when it’s available from multiple sources. Before then, there’s a greater risk of failure and a greater risk to your business.
- Scalable – Ask yourself: Will this new technology meet high standards of dependability and be able to scale up or down to support the needs of diverse customer bases?
- Compatible – Any new technology must be compatible with your current software and systems, or it won’t be useful. Work with IT to ensure seamless integration is possible beforehand.
- Secure – New technology poses a risk to the security of your company’s and customers’ data. Be sure that the technology you adopt supports audits, meets compliance standards and protects data privacy.
- Mature – Early iterations of new technology tend to be pricy. Waiting until the product or idea is more mature can save your organization money in the long run.
- Supported – It’s vital that new technology is supported by all employees – from your senior leadership to CSR representatives – to ensure its success. Be sure that there is buy-in from all departments and when the time comes, plan a detailed rollout with personalized training sessions.
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 MIT Technology Review survey, 2017