Artificial Intelligence in Customer Service

AI has prompted a lot of discussions tinged with excitement about the possibilities along with a fear that it will take our jobs. But one potential outcome is something most of us can support: improved customer service, optimizing user experience on site & increased engagement.

Most of us consumers have had a bad customer service experience at some point in our lives. When you call a company, you may be upset. You want them to fix it, and instead, you’re confronted with a person who seems ignorant, uncaring, or unhelpful. (Or all three.) We don’t mean to impugn customer service agents, who work hard and must listen to complaints all day. But they are human, too, and sometimes, they just can’t help the caller as much as they would like. Perhaps the caller is unreasonable as well.

AI can change that. The hype around self service AI in customer service is that it might replace customer service agents entirely. While that is possible, it’s not probable in the near future. Until then, AI’s value lies in making agents’ jobs easier, making communication easier, and identifying problems. By combining chatbot services with humans, business owners can improve service while lowering their bottom line.

Business owners are catching on to this. Nearly 8 out of 10 businesses have already implemented or are planning to adopt AI as a customer service solution by 2020. Further, 91 percent of companies with world-leading brand recognition and high levels of customer satisfaction use AI solutions to increase customer satisfaction & engagement, compared to 42% of companies in their fields overall. (Source: MIT Technology Review and Genesys, 2017)

How It Works

Machine learning is the way computers can learn from large amounts of data, analyzing information and taking action based on what it learns. We’ve talked before about AI applications such as Facebook’s photo tagging. The other piece that affects customer service is called Natural Language Processing, which is how computers interpret a person speaking. If you have an Alexa or talk to Siri, you’re relying on this technology. When you hear about customer service chatbots, that may refer to a computer listening to a person speaking or the machine interpreting typed questions in a chat window on a website. Both tools are now commonly used in customer service.

How AI is Improving Customer Service

Here are some ways AI can make the customer experience better for your consumer and your team:

  • Make your agents’ lives easier – Right now, chatbots can only handle somewhere between 10 to 35 percent of customer problems. Humans need to intercede for the rest. But what’s wrong with that figure? Why not let a computer handle the low-hanging fruit? This frees up your agents from the dull, repetitive questions a machine can answer and allows them to focus on the customers with complex issues.
  • Happier customers – Research shows consumers feel customer service is excellent when it’s “personalized, always on and real-time, consistent and omnichannel.” A customer who has a quick question is likelier to be happier with the swift answer a chatbot can provide, while those who are frustrated or confused may prefer to speak to a human to sort things out. This gives your customers options: older customers might want to connect with a human, while millennials would prefer chat or email. Plus, your chatbot can answer questions 24/7 for night owls or your global market’s various timezones.
  • Useful data – AI can gather and analyze data about customer interactions, in some cases identifying emotions or even depression based on language. AI might identify patterns among types of customers with a particular problem, for example. This data is a valuable tool for companies seeking to improve their product or service — or their interaction with customers.

Cost Savings

These customer service improvements also come with a benefit to businesses in potential cost savings. Some companies find savings by reducing the number of calls and therefore cutting down on phone bills while others can reduce staff or reduce the high turnover often found in call centers.

Quality AI Service

Of course, these happy things occur only if your AI chatbots perform well. Picture yourself on the phone, repeating your problem for the third time in an effort for the computer to understand what you are saying. If not programmed correctly, a system might prompt more frustration than elation.

If you’re ready to explore how AI can augment your customer service, talk to us about a custom solution for your business.


Pete Peranzo

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