The rapid advancement of AI technology has led to benefits in numerous business sectors. We have previously talked about their growing popularity in contact centers, but an even more increasingly popular usage for AI is in customer service. It is no wonder that – within three years – 55% of retailers are planning to employ artificial intelligence to improve customer service, according to the 2018 Customer Experience/Unified Commerce Survey.
To find out why, it is essential to examine how AI works in the field of customer service and the advantages it brings to the table.
What Artificial Intelligence Can Do
Scientists are striving to make consumer-to-producer (C2P) communication AI-based and indistinguishable to manual communication. This is far from perfect, but through using complex learning algorithms and studying consumer behavior, AI technology is advancing to an extent that it can replicate most manual interaction.
Firstly, AI aids in strategic decision-making by tracking trends in consumer behavior through the analysis of readily-available transaction and browsing data. The conduction of this analysis allows digital retailers to refine their product recommendations and personalize their purchase suggestion for each user.
This does not come off as a surprise as we have formerly discussed how using consumer data can significantly improve customer experience. Most, if not all, large-scale digital retailers employ this feature of AI to attract more demand. For instance, Amazon uses AI to detect a pattern in customers’ browsing and transaction history on the website to make purchase suggestions.
Secondly, an ever-increasing number of digital service providers are using AI augmented messages. This usage may occasionally be difficult as customers often feel frustrated when they are dealing with a pure bot in live chat support. However, this technology has experienced rapid development within these few years to an extent that – as LivePerson claims- “Half of all customer service interactions are currently highly suitable for bots.”
LivePerson is one company which is currently working with IBM Watson to transform customer care through the usage of AI augmented messaging. The same augmentation can be adapted to customer care phone calls. As a matter of fact, IBM claims that “customers make more than 270 billion phone calls to customer support lines each year.” Such a high load cannot be adequately handled by manual customer support workers and AI helps relieve the pressure.
The advancement of voice recognition software and the development of faster self-learning AI will improve the sustainability of using technology to improve customer care. In addition, bots and humans can work hand-in-hand to provide the most sufficient service in customer support. This is possible in both: phone calls and live text support – as seen below.
Thirdly, AI comes in very handy in streamlining responses to email inquiries. This brings forth numerous advantages. Most importantly, using artificial intelligence can reduce the average handling time (AHT) as it is able to classify the inquiries into different categories so they can be deal with faster and easier. Based on that, the AI can either automatically respond to the inquiry if it classified as a FAQ or it can forward it for human assistance.
The reduced AHT lead to increased customer satisfaction while the automation of responses leads to reduced consumption of human resources. As such, the usage of AI technology in handling emails provides a win-win situation and leaves no side at loss.
The Long-term Benefits of AI
AI provides services which are useful for all types of business, so we can see their usage continuing to grow in the future. This trend is reinforced by the self-learning nature of AI. Self-learning, or deep learning, refers to the phenomena where machines can learn by experience and acquire skills without human involvement. This allows them to improve over time and adapt more effortlessly to the market and consumer behavior.
Every single day, 2.6 quintillion bytes of data are generated. That number seems incomprehensible to human beings, but AI actively use the data for their improvement through deep learning. This can be directly observed in AI which is fixated on improving customer experience. Most notably, Netflix uses deep-learning AI to analyze patterns in what users watch and personalize movie recommendations accordingly.
We have spoken earlier about the numerous benefits of Continual Service Improvement (CSI), and the deep-learning aspect of AI provides just that. The implementation of AI in the customer service sector of one’s business will allow it to continually improve in accordance with the ITIL model since the bots will be adopting more over time. Thus, the employment of AI has as many long-term advantages as it has short-term advantages, making it perfect for almost every business model.
The Growing Prevalence of AI
In light of all those benefits, one question arises: Will AI ever completely replace humans in the field of customer service? To date, the answer remains a mystery. However, most people do not think so. It is true that AI is able to outperform humans in numerous areas, but one must consider that they are dependent on the first-hand human experience at the end of the day.
Smart technology such as deep-learning AI LivePerson independently improve but it still lacks many of the qualities which humans uniquely possess, most remarkably human empathy. From the phrasing of sentences to the tone of voice, human empathy plays a crucial role when assisting customers as it paves the road for healthier communication and improved satisfaction. Bots may be able to deal with a situation adequately, but true customer comfort lies in being understood. Such a feeling cannot be replicated by AI, which reinforces the need for a human-bot synergy in customer assistance.
Nonetheless, scientists are working on enriching bots in this sector by adding different voices and styles of writing. This can be observed in the improvement of chatbots. Using deep-learning, chatbots are becoming more emotionally in tune to the extent that they are even able to help humans overcome fears.
It is only a matter of time until we see these features used in customer service, further increasing its popularity. Hence, it is never the wrong choice to look into ways of implementing AI technology to improve customer experience.