With CX18 in the books, we asked Onliner (and conference attendee) Jay Gunnell to share some of his thoughts on what he observed at the conference.
If you attended CX18 you know the major theme was AI. That’s not surprising, who isn’t talking about AI, right? What surprised me is Genesys didn't talk much about one of their major advantages in making AI practical.
First off, let's consider AI in the customer experience. It has extremely promising potential in two broad areas: automating self-service interactions and optimizing the customer journey. Genesys focused more on optimizing the customer journey, and they're right to do that. Genesys isn’t really a “bot” player but they are a market and thought leader when it comes to optimizing the customer journey. So, it makes a lot of sense for them to talk about AI in that context.
Which leads me to an excellent point made by Merijn te Booij in a Partner Day session. I'm paraphrasing but, essentially, he said we need to get away from the notion that AI is going to bring any new customer facing techniques. Rather it's going to optimize the way we deliver a rich customer experience.
It’s something all of us should think about as we're inundated with new and shiny AI stories from vendors. Simply put, AI is an evolution, not a revolution, and for evolution to happen the building blocks (i.e. a solid customer experience strategy and supporting technology) need to be in place.
And that's where I think Genesys left out a key part of their story. They put a lot of focus on how Kate is an AI platform, not an AI, and they talked about Predictive Routing like it was something new. They also used the term “blended AI” over and over.
But, here’s the thing, Genesys already has incredibly capable open platforms for applying AI. Predictive Routing isn’t a new concept, it’s a concept waiting to be optimized (and the new tools Genesys is introducing, like AltoCloud, look very promising). Finally, most professionals I know have been using Genesys platforms to integrate intelligent assistants for years. Integrating machine learning into current rules-based implementations is just an evolution of that story.
So, I think, what Genesys left out is an extension of what Merijn said in his Partner Day message. As organizations look at how machine learning, natural language understanding, and self-service bots can add to their customer’s experience, they need to look deeply at whether their current customer experience strategy, and the underlying technologies supporting it, are ready to step into the AI world.
Nobody in the customer experience business should ignore AI, it’s not just the future, it’s a future that’s already arrived. But it’s just another tool in our toolbox and machine learning implies there is something for the machine to learn. In the case of customer experience, that “something” is built on the already existing techniques of applying contextual information and holistic orchestration of the customer journey to achieve desired business outcomes. If that foundation isn’t solid, the smartest AI in the world won’t change anything.
To learn more about Online's Customer Engagement practice, click here. Have any thoughts on my comments above? Feel free to leave a comment below, I'd love to hear from you!
Jay Gunnell is the Director of Service Delivery for the Online Business Systems, Customer Engagement Practice, a group that specializes in building and optimizing phenomenal customer experiences. He’s a 20+ year veteran of the contact center/customer experience industry having held such roles as solution architect, technical consultant, project manager, business analyst and consultant, voice application designer, and product manager (for Genesys Conversation Manager).