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Watch Out World—Your Next Food Server Could be a Bot
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As technology adoption has skyrocketed, it has vastly changed the way that consumers engage with businesses across the industries, but never more than in the retail sector. Online shopping, web portals for deals and discounts, review sites allowing consumers to review, compare, praise and complain, and mobile loyalty apps are just a few of the changes that have become a boon and bane for retailers everywhere. With digital information and power at their fingertips, consumers are in the driver’s seat in creating change in the retail industry, forcing retailers to modernize and to adopt new technology as a way to improve customer service, brand engagement, and the customer experience (CX). The advent of the internet ushered in vast changes in retail automation, primarily in the ability to order goods and services online. These advancements, however, produced as many challenges as benefits for retailers. For instance, while the maturation of online shopping revolutionized the purchasing landscape, it also contributed to the ongoing demise of thousands of brick-and-mortar businesses. Online shopping allows consumers access to a vast sea of shopping opportunities. It also enables brands that have embraced it to provide a consistent shopping experience, which too often is not the case with large retailing storefront locations. Yet, at the same time, it has given mom-and-pop stores and small retail establishments access to a consumer base they could have only imagined 20 years ago.When we talk about the infusion of AI across the customer contact landscape we really are reflecting on the usage of numerous technologies under “the umbrella of AI.” This set of technologies is diverse and encompasses a number of subsets. For example, AI can include the use of speech technologies, such as natural language understanding (NLU), natural language processing (NLP), automatic speech recognition (ASR), text-to-speech (TTS), and text processing.Machine learning (ML) and predictive analytics provides another set of capabilities that can dramatically impact customer care. ML can mine through massive amounts of customer data pulled together from disparate systems to form a more cohesive picture of customers; and their behavior, preferences, habits, and sentiment towards a business. This can then be used to build predictive models to improve CX and other business outcomes, such as thwarting fraud, creating sales offers in real-time and sorting calling lists to target which consumers are most likely to donate to a cause. This insight paints a picture of the industry impact and maturing technologies, particularly those under the umbrella of artificial intelligence (AI), are having on customer contact in two branches of retail— the food service industry and retail goods and services. It showcases the impact AI is having on all customer touchpoints from consumer interaction with the contact center to their experience within a brick -and- mortar establishment.Author: Nancy Jamison
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