Hundreds of actions that a year or two ago involved human interaction are now automated. We can order pizza, book a seat in a restaurant or even schedule a doctor appointment without talking to a living person. Automation is at peak of popularity. And as more and more companies implement AI and machine learning into their strategy, the more fast and frictionless service becomes a standard.
AI in customer service promises to improve such aspects of the business as online customer experience, brand reputation, preventive assistance and income flows. We decided to delve into this topic to investigate the potential flaws and opportunities.
What place does AI take in customer service?
AI-based customer support keeps attracting business owners. The success of implementing AI varies. In some cases, it's pretty obvious that the client is talking to a bot. In other cases, customers could not even realize that it was a bot, not a person they have interacted with. Assisting to a support agent, the machine listens and analyzes the conversation with a customer, and extracts some useful data for the agent to deliver the most suitable response or solution.
With such qualities, many businesses are trying to adjust the full capacity of AI into their everyday tasks and overall performance. Machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) come out as the most interesting (and wanted) functionalities.
FYI: Machine learning churns a lot of data and learns from it. Request suggestions and spam folders are illustrating this AI capability as the everyday examples. NLP processes and interprets spoken or written messages of your daily interactions. Siri, Cortana, and Alexa are one of the best samples of this AI ability.
As these functions of AI open new horizons for businesses and potentially grow the customer service quality, more and more companies consider how to integrate this technology into their workflow. The most interesting yet to come: as any disruptive innovation, AI shouldn’t be thought as (and it is not) a one-size-fits-all solution. Before you initiate any integrations of an artificial intelligence system into customer service, evaluate the pros and cons of it.
The benefits of AI to be excited about
#1 Workflow optimization
A robot can handle huge volumes of frequently asked questions and some other questions too. Once you figure out a way to make it work for you and your customers, you will instantly get more time on your hands to work on more complicated issues.
#2 Round the clock support
With AI your support can work 24/7. This can be helpful if you serve customers around the world. They can get answers and even their problem solved at any time of the day without having to wait for someone to answer.
#3 Room for improvement
As we have already mentioned, the machine learning is one of the most wanted capabilities of AI, and this feature helps it (the machine, a chatbot or whatever type of AI you use) to learn and become more intelligent with every issue and task fixed.
#4 Less room for mistakes
Whether we like it or not, our brain is prone to making mistakes. And the more information we have to process, the more likely we are to make a mistake. AI, on the contrary, follows strict rules. It analyzes the question/problem and returns a programmed answer.
#5 Consistent performance
One of the most challenging aspects of working in customer support is stress. Support reps often burn out and need time to recharge. The plus side of AI that it's a machine that doesn't need days off. It keeps working regardless of the complexity and volume of inquiries.
The pitfalls of AI to be on the lookout for
#1 Lack of emotional intelligence
It is a kind of general truth - people want to interact with people. There are maybe customers who don’t really care if they speak to a human or to a virtual assistant. However, AI in customer service can fail to understand the emotional aspect of the issue or question a client has and quite doubtful that this client will leave you satisfied.
#2 AI maintenance
There will be downtime. Glitches, maintenance, updates, etc. Just like our brain is prone to mistakes, technology is prone to getting out of order. Thus, anything can happen (or not happen) so if you become dependant on AI then you might bump into some issues.
#3 Decision-making feature
These virtual assistants can learn and replicate how people do their judgment, yet it can be smooth and quite often can create difficult situations.
#4 Creativity can’t be taught
Another drawback of AI in customer service is the lack of creativity. This little aspect shows the difference between a virtual assistant and a human support agent. The machine can replicate the voice or some responses, but the creative thinking process is still a prerogative of humans.
In case of security breach, the consequences for the company might be disastrous since AI has access to information about the company, customers, transactions, etc.
Will AI replace the human customer service?
The budget sparing and customer support available round the clock are the two aspects that are appeal businesses to integrate AI into their workflows or even substitute the human support agents. Either way, this virtual assistant can’t replace a human support manager on a full scale, for now at least.
However, some businesses successfully use AI in a daily routine. But there are basic information or orders that are easily handled by automated platforms. To illustrate this point, a virtual assistant can take a pizza or coffee orders. Some banks are also testing AI in their performance. The virtual assistant handles such interactions like getting basic information, checking a balance, paying bills and the like.
You may ask: what does it mean? It proves the efficiency of AI in customer service for some industries that can service the clients with a high quality without human interaction - simple, routine tasks are turned to the machines or bots.
The final words
Support service agents and AI work better in tandem, and there is no urgent need to replace the human representatives. At this point of development, AI can’t fully replicate the human creative thinking and a sense of judgment. However, the virtual assistant can handle the routine tasks and allow a support manager to do at what they are the best. With such a process streamlining, your customer service will run noticeable improvements.