Could AI replace customer service assistants?

Artificial Intelligence has developed drastically over the last few years, and the use of chatbots have become intrinsically intertwined in our lives. Intelligent Personal Assistants like Siri and Alexa are already being used every day.

With major advancements having been made in AI, companies are investigating how this technology can benefit their bottom line, and if AI is already being used to run homes, why should it not run customer services?

How Does AI Work?

Of the huge amount of data that every human will create in their lifetime, only about 33% of this data is useful, and only if it is analysed. AI offers a solution to this by being able to handle and analyse big data, and to identify patterns that suggest customer difficulties, spending habits, and so on.

AI is simply a software programme that has been designed to recognise, collect, store and respond to data in a particular way. In the customer service industry this would equate to responding to FAQ’s by recognising key words in a query, or tracking someone’s spending habits to make purchase suggestions. For example, AI could be used very successfully at an online casino as a basic support option, or in an online store where customers have queries about a product or service.

Why Companies Are Considering AI

AI is a cheaper and more reliable solution to entry-level customer service requirements. An AI bot is taught only once, is infinitely simpler to manage and is cheaper than training an entire staff base. Plus, it is easily updated as things change. Most of the AI applications are smart enough to learn as they are utilised, and once they have been used to solve a customer service issue, this data is stored for future use.

AI systems are reliable, always available, and always accessible, and a company’s ability to deal with an influx in customer queries simply relies on them being able to run an additional server. AI systems are not affected by holidays, office hours or time zones, allowing clients to access this support whenever they need to.

There is a direct correlation between customer satisfaction and the speed at which their queries are resolved. AI systems have the benefit of not having to search for answers the way people do, and tests have shown they answer with 97% accuracy, compared to humans, which show an approximate 70% accuracy rate. In this way, not only are they improving the speed with which clients are being assisted, but they also free up customer service agents time to do higher value work.

AI can be used to perform simple transactions quickly and efficiently, like booking accommodation or flights. The sort of transactions that do not have much emotion attached to them.

AI can be programmed to never get upset or lose its temper. It does not quit and need to be replaced; a common issue in customer service industry where staff turnover is high, and recruiting and training new entry-level staff takes time and money. Unlike people who get sick, resulting in extra expenses for temp staff, or suffering a lower client satisfaction rate, AI does not fall ill.

Therein lies the question…

Is Artificial Intelligence the Future of Customer Service?

Yes and No. For transactions and communication where none or very little emotion is involved absolutely, and it will be handled quickly and efficiently with very little effort from the client’s side, however nothing can replace the empathy a person can display in high emotion situations.

For example, an Insurance company’s client logging a claim for a minor motor vehicle dent can easily be handled by a chatbot, but having a client standing on the roadside after being in a crash, needing to arrange for an ambulance or tow truck would be best handled by the finesse that only a person can display.

Artificial Intelligence certainly has a place in customer service, but it is difficult to imagine a business that deals with people only using AI as the channel to do that. Larger companies are viewing Artificial Intelligence as a technological avenue, not to replace Customer Service Agents, but to improve customer service using AI. Making agents even more efficient, as they have AI on hand to assist them, when they are assisting clients. Essentially, AI can be a win-win situation for everyone, and it can be harnessed to the company and employee’s benefit.

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