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Customers want to interact with both digital tools and humans. Therefore, companies should balance the strengths and weaknesses of humans and machines.

AI with human

According to 1to1 Media (American resource for Customer Experience Professionals) customers want to interact with both digital tools and humans. Therefore, companies should find ways to balance the strengths and weaknesses of humans and machines.

Humans versus robots.

This scenario is playing out across a widening swath of industries as businesses weigh the value of replacing human workers with automated and artificial intelligence systems. And while the human touch still has merit, business leaders are exploring more and more opportunities to increase efficiencies and cut costs with robots.

Era of AI systems in business has just begun.

Last month, at a few of its San Francisco locations Target tested robots that roll through store aisles and can determine if products have been misplaced, mispriced, or are low in stock. And later this week, Whole Foods Market will open its first 365 by Whole Foods Market store, which includes the teaBOT. The teaBot is a self-service kiosk that allows customers to brew and pay for loose-leaf teas on a touch screen or app.

As technology improves machines will be able to carry out an increasing number of tasks handled by humans but companies should think carefully about replacing humans who can find innovative solutions to problems with robots.

Ally Assist Case.

Ally Bank, a subsidiary of Ally Financial, is an online bank that doesn't have any physical branches. Instead, the Utah-based bank strives to offer an easy-to-use digital interface that allows customers to manage their banking needs anywhere at any time. In an effort to further personalize the experience, last year the company expanded its mobile banking app to include Ally Assist.

Ally Assist serves as a virtual assistant that users can interact with via speech or text to perform tasks like transferring funds, paying bills, and making deposits. And by using automated intelligence and customer data profiles, Ally Assist can analyze a customer's accounts and transactions to provide detailed information about spending and saving patterns, as well as generate reminders and flag potential issues.

Since launching Ally Assist in May 2015, downloads of the company's mobile app have "gone up tremendously" according to Sumlin. At the same time, the company understands that customers may need to speak with a human associate. Ally Bank has more than 600 agents in contact centers across the U.S. who can assist customers through live chat, email, and phone. Providing human agents as a backup to the company's online services is important, Sumlin notes. "We're not shy about letting our customers know we're available to speak with them whenever they need us," she says.

For now though, agents do not automatically receive a history of the caller's online activities, which could help the agent identify and sole the customer's problem faster. Giving agents a richer view of a customer's history and user activity is something that the company is working on, Sumlin adds.

Indeed, technology should help customer service reps spend "less time on routine administrative tasks and more time solving customer problems," says Jeff Foley, director of product marketing for customer service applications at Pegasystems. "Instead of using technology to replace as many people as possible, companies that use technology to help their employees provide a better service will ultimately provide a better customer experience."

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