Artificial Intelligence’s Role in Customer Service
Customer service has always been a vital aspect of any business and often dictates the manner in which a company is perceived in a market. For today’s businesses, however, customer service is a much more important process which also serves as a comprehensive part of their sales and marketing strategies. Being a continuous and often mechanical process, most aspects of the customer service process are being automated. A study by Oracle from 2016 reports that approximately 8 out of 10 businesses in the world today have either switched or are planning to switch to Artificial Intelligence for their customer service needs by the year 2020. The recent developments in AI have largely attributed to a surge in investments into the technology. For customer service, there are various aspects that today apply AI and automation on some level.
AI beyond Chatbots
The most common features of any website today are chatbots. Chatbots are those small pop-ups that appear when you log on to a website assisting you with the basic queries. As of now, that is the extent of their purpose. Responding to FAQs from a pre-programmed set of answers and contingencies, Chatbots could be considered the beginnings of Artificial Intelligence, although calling them that would be a gross overstatement. Yet, chatbots have allowed companies to improve the efficiency of their customer service teams. Being available 24/7 they offer an edge for companies in maintaining a strong presence in the market. No matter how advanced AI may be than chatbots, it is meant to serve only these two purposes and all AI designed for Customer Care function along these lines. However, AI adds layers to those functions often allowing for several functions that involve augmented AI-Human coordinated efforts.
AI-Assisted Human Agent
This is a model that companies follow as an alternative the Chatbots. This model offers the best of both worlds as human agents work hand in hand or rather hand on the mouse. Here the AI serves as a relay between the customer and the human agent. Using data and predictive analysis the AI analyses various previous conversation pertaining to the query in question and generates a custom answer based on the current inputs from the customer. The human agent then edits the answer to make it sound more ‘human’ and delivers it in a simple and understandable manner. After each query is answered the AI learns from the edited answer offered by the agent to enhance its own database the next time it answers. The advantage of this model is its versatility across platforms as well as media.
Unlike chatbots, this model is not limited to text-based queries and can function on a voice level as well. By applying Natural Language Processing, the AI recognizes human features associated with a voice to authenticate calls as well as make suggestions. It is predicted that in the next couple of years a healthy percentage of companies using voice call based business processes will be enhanced by the use of AI.
Swift Response AI
If we had a rupee for every time we refused our patronage to a service because of bad customer care, all of us would be quite rich indeed. In the digital age, quick and efficient customer care is an essential need and people lose patience and loyalty towards a company when they are made to wait and put through a ton of procedures. The AI today are capable of interacting directly with customers for any requests pertaining to information or service and by drawing from a database, offers appropriate suggestions and processes them. If there are queries that are beyond the AI’s processing capabilities it automatically initiates the process and redirects the customer to the concerned human agent. This swift AI servicing is proving to be quite effective.
One of the most comprehensive applications of AI in customer service has been data analysis. Where humans often fail in general is when we are expected to see the big picture. We have done this for centuries and it seems we never learn. But, AI today is able to grasp each and every aspect of a conversation, transaction or interaction of any kind and process it to derive actionable insights. By using technologies such as natural language processing and machine learning, AI will thoroughly analyze all data available and checks for anomalies and vital information such as trends and patterns which could be used in the future to improve conversion rates and so on. While not used as widely as the previous two, this form of AI has been quite effective as a business accelerator and it is predicted that with the growing popularity of AI it will eventually become a customer service staple.
While the application of AI in customer service still has a long way to go, the changes it is has brought about so far have been substantial. Despite the ‘Don’t fix it, if it is not broken’ attitude that is symbolic of the customer service market, there has been quite a push for the adoption of AI. Given the various possibilities that AI presents, the customer service industry, for now, is in a safe haven with this technology by their side.