15 May AI is changing Customer Service forever, for the better.
Mention Artificial Intelligence (AI) to many and it still conjures images of sci-fi films with robots plotting to take over the world. AI is changing the current customer service sector, but AI has been around longer than most people realize.
We Already use AI
Artificial Intelligence as a general term began in the 1950s and though it hasn’t taken over the world it has improved it. What a relief not needing to take time out of our busy fabulous lives to sift email into categories or comb through images for a family member or search through pages of data to find the best scone recipe for the ingredients on hand.
The intent behind much of AI is to free us from inane, repetitive tasks thereby giving us more time to grow our intellects, and businesses, with more interesting, evolving actions. We already have email filters, image recognition and research/data fetching assistance from AI tools like Alexa and Siri, for example. The evolution of AI is speeding up and soon it will be far more common to interact with a form of AI than not.
What makes AI different from other helpful machines?
The difference between an appliance and AI is customization, flexibility and learning. It is like the difference between throwing everything into the washer vs. dividing items by color, delicacy, dry clean only and cleaning each item in the method that brings about the best result.
AI has evolved. It has gone beyond static machine learning dependent upon limited data. Because of deep learning, AI can understand, improve and adapt through experience. As a result, AI can be beneficial in the customer service space. AI can learn what the desired outcome is for a customer and lead them to that outcome. Many basic issues that come through customer service are more rapidly, cheaply and effectively addressed via AI also. There are many examples already in use with chatbots, automated phone services and interactive FAQs.
How AI Benefits the Customer
Humans. We want what we want when we want it. Therefore, the more a company can provide access to issue resolution on their customer’s schedule the greater their customer satisfaction. This is where flexibility and customization of AI is beneficial. AI customer service can operate 24/7 without falling asleep or being short-staffed at 2am.
AI Solves Problems
A program with the ability to address a customer’s problem intelligently is not impacted by illness, family emergency, transportation or time zone.
No one wants to wait in line when faced with a problem. An automated phone system or online chatbot are examples of AI that eliminate the line.
An AI can be built to address language issues. No more calling India from the United States only to encounter a language barrier that can significantly impact resolution time and frustration levels.
How AI Benefits Businesses
Time is money and saving both benefits business. It takes multiple hours and thousands of dollars to train quality customer service agents. By contrast, automated tools can be designed to develop an understanding of detailed industry information and only need to be ‘trained’ once. Updating software is also more time and cost efficient than re-training a large group of employees that work on different schedules.
Efficiency is tied to saving time and money for businesses. Having AI cover more basic issues allows for human customer service agents to be available to address more complex ones. A quick, correct resolution to a problem results in a positive customer service experience. A customer who feels positively toward a company is more likely to have brand loyalty to that company, leave favorable reviews of that company and recommend that company to others. All of these results benefit the
Fewer and fewer people pick up the phone even to have a casual conversation, which is especially true with Millennials. As customers become more tech savvy and the use of computers, mobile phones, apps and texting replace in-person and telephone interactions, providing customers with a self-service digital resolution option is in keeping with this trend.
AI and Human Partnering
The development of AI is not about replacing people, but creating a partnership between digital capability and human ability. There are still situations where human intellect surpasses that of AI. There are also situations where AI can assist the human customer service agent in doing their job more effectively.
AI can sift through data that reveals the most effective wording for communicating a solution to a customer. In addition, AI can search options to assist an agent in providing direction to a customer more quickly than they would be able to do alone. In this way digital solutions and human knowledge can work together to provide the best outcome.
AI and the Future
AI is not going away. The increase in use of apps to make purchases and connect with brands is evidence of this. It is anticipated that the majority of customer service will be digitized by 2020. As AI learns more and more about customer preferences and habits it will further change customer service for the better.
Even with all of this capability AI may not yet be ready to write hit songs though. Rhett and Link of Good Mythical Morning put the lyrics to all Bruno Mars songs into a predictive text bot and this was the result. You be the judge. Enjoy!
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Winston, Patrick (2010, Fall) MIT 6.034 Artificial Intelligence, 1. Introduction and Scope [lecture], Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNKj529yY5c&index=2&list=PLUl4u3cNGP63gFHB6xb-kVBiQHYe_4hSi
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Rhett and Link (2018, March 3) Good Mythical Morning S13 E40.2 “Shake the Death” Bruno Mars Predictive Text Song