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Microsoft Industry Blogs – United Kingdom

Around 68 percent of 18 – 34-year-old consumers expect great things from customer service.[1] In fact, 78% think service agents should have their contact and product information on the tip of their tongue the moment they contact them.[2]

That puts a lot of pressure on companies to live up to those expectations. But those that can, can look forward to greater customer loyalty, positive brand perception, improved competitive positioning, and higher profitability.

So what’s going to make it happen? Right now, the smart money’s going on artificial intelligence (AI). It’s starting to do incredible things for customer service. And not just through chatbots and virtual agents.

Take the University of California. There, researchers discovered that training a convolutional neural network to analyse customer information, and then using the results to create a generative adversarial network, can invent your next outfit.

It means that instead of paying a high price for their very own fashion consultant – surely the ultimate in customer service – customers can look forward to having an advisor, for free, whenever and wherever they want.

Wondering what else AI could do? Here’s a taste for you.

It can give people the right answers or point them in the right direction, even during their first interaction with the company. It can handle orders and spot upsell and cross-sell opportunities. It can scan e-mails and send them to the right department or office. It can even “listen” to customer conversations and use sentiment analysis to assess their content and tone to identify how the customer feels and how well the call is going. And that’s not blue-sky thinking – it’s happening right now. You just need to know where to look.

Here are just a few examples:

Healthcare facility

Some people who have a seizure never have another one. Others are at a high risk of having further seizures. And current medication keeps less than 60 percent of people with epilepsy completely seizure-free. So one UK hospital, Microsoft, and some of its partners started to build myCareCentric, a data collection and analysis platform. This uses the Microsoft Health and HealthVault platforms and Microsoft Band wearable devices to collect patient data. The patient tops this up with other data through a mobile app.

Doctors access the combined data in HealthVault. Then, they analyse it to work out how severe their patients’ seizure risk is and take the right action. Meanwhile, researchers are using Microsoft Azure Machine Learning. They’re developing algorithms and classifiers that could detect seizures at even earlier stages. The ultimate in customer service, and an outstanding way to make sure hospital staff stay happy.

Jewellery brand

One particular New Zealand jewellery brand started life as a singles store. Now, it has 370 outlets across the world. If you think that means a lot of customer and product data, you’d be right. By bringing it all together with Microsoft Dynamics 365, the company’s consistently able to display its brand values by giving customers the superior service that they’ve come to expect.

Staff type a customer’s name into a mobile device. In an instant, they see a full purchase history as well as any special information. That gives them the insight they need to share compelling offers and show customers products they think will excite them. And it opens doors to even more AI opportunities, such as product personalisation.

Fashion retailer
With 32 quarters in a row of double-digit online growth behind it, one international fashion retailer used Microsoft Dynamics 365 AI solution for customer service to add a virtual agent to its website. Within a month, the virtual agent was already with better customer experiences. Answering more than one quarter of customer queries. Giving the right offer discounts. Suggesting products. Checking local stock. And passing calls over to live agents if necessary. All invisibly and on the fly. Not surprisingly, the brand now plans to expand it to additional shopping channels.

Want some more inspiration?

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How retailers can improve the customer experience with AI

Be the future of customer engagement: using data to stay one step ahead of the competition

 

[1] Microsoft’s 2016 Global State of Customer Service Report

[2] Op.cit.