Artificial Intelligence or AI is an important innovative technology that will revolutionize the future. At present, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being deployed in customer service to both augment as well as replace human agents – with the primary aims of enhancing customer experience and optimizing customer service costs.
The technological breakthroughs in AI are poised to take every industry by the storm. AI powered services have picked up its fastest pace. The advanced systems powered by automated solutions have enabled the users to make a restaurant reservation, book a movie ticket, hotel room, order a pizza and even make an appointment at a clinic. Artificial Intelligence is reimagining customer service industry by automating processes, and disrupting how we work.
The rapid implementation of AI can be accredited to innovations such as machine learning and natural language processing. AI-powered digital solutions are gradually becoming a part of the customer service interactions. Experts believe that AI has the capability to enable real-time self-service for customer service platforms.
According to a study by Zendesk, 42% customers are more likely to purchase after experiencing a good customer service, whereas 52% could stop being a customer after a single negative customer service experience. Thus, customer service still remains a decisive factor in customers making the purchase.
According to a recent report by Gartner, nearly 55% of well-established organizations have either started making investments in the potential of AI or are planning to do so by 2020. With customer service assuming far more importance, companies are turning towards artificial intelligence.
AI in Customer Service
Automation let’s you deliver the next-level of responsiveness that’s not humanly possible. Al is also currently being implemented to replace human agents at some levels and augment them. AI assists the human executive in having a smooth conversation with the customer. The machine listens to the discussion in real-time and feeds information to the representative for a better response. By 2020, 85% of the customer support interactions are expected to be conducted without any customer services representatives. According to Oracle, 80% sales and marketing leaders either use or plan to use chatbots in the near future. ValaAfshar, Chief Digital Evangelist at Salesforce predicts that, “The line-of-business that is most likely to embrace AI first will be the customer service – typically the most process oriented and technology savvy organization within most companies.”
The AI embedded systems are capable of monitoring an infinite amount of website as well as in-app activity to spot distress indicators, identify customers experiencing issues/concerns and what those issues are. These systems can respond in real-time and offer support via virtual service agents or FAQ’s across devices and platforms.
By resolving customer service issues before they arise you can significantly lower the customer abandonment rates in the buying cycle, reduce customer complaints and enhance customer satisfaction.
AI has not reached a stage where it can completely replace the entire human customer service system. However, it is possible that perfectly human-like, AI could become a reality in the near future. Currently, AI is heavily incorporated to improve the customer service and customer experience. Studies prove that organizations can improve compliance by 30% and agent satisfaction by 90% by integrating AI.
Let us look at some of the present uses of AI in customer service.
Messaging has changed tremendously in the past few years. Studies show that 90% of the customers today want to use messaging for communicating with businesses. Interestingly, 86% of customers also look for an option to transfer to a live person to resolve their query. This complex need puts companies in a difficult position where they have to ensure the best of both worlds to provide a delightful customer experience.
The success of the AI-powered bot largely depends on the available data and intuitive features provided to the customers. At Conneqt, we provide AI augmented messaging where an AI bots assist the agent. So the basic information is provided by the bots, whereas the customer has the option to talk to a human representative as and when desired. The complex tasks are undertaken by the human, whereas the repetitive tasks are taken care of by the bots.
AI in Email
No customer wants to wait for 48-72 hours for receiving a reply to an email query. So, it becomes difficult for companies to read thousands of emails manually and reply to them within a given timeframe. AI-powered email can help the team to speed-up the process reducing the number of customer requests waiting for the reply. AI-powered technology can direct the email to the concerned department and also provide past responses to ensure a faster reply. To successfully implement the AI in an email, a huge amount of monthly data should be available for the machine learning.
AI in Research
It is certain that AI will make self-service interfaces a reality in the near future. However, AI can also be used in capturing and analyzing data for achieving excellent customer service experience. Al can help in identifying customer issues, determine preferences based on past choice, and respond with a most-suited solution. Studies hint that personalization will be the key in the future and AI is a perfect solution to offer personalized offers, solutions, suggestions, and even resolve queries before they arrive.
While implementation of AI may appear to be a complicated process, the benefits can easily supersede the efforts. Let us look at some of the significant benefits.
According to a Mckinsey report, about 29% of work done by customer service representatives has the potential to be automated. So by implementing AI companies can save a huge amount of money on training and hiring staff. On an average, it can cost $4000 to hire an agent and over $4800 to train them. With attrition and expansion, these costs are only going to multiply.
On the contrary, AI needs to be trained only once. If there are any changes down the line, the software can be re-configured. AI will also free the workforce of routine and repetitive task that they are tired of doing, thereby reducing the attrition rate and improving the employee engagement.
24*7 Customer Service
Public holidays or leaves of absence do not constrain automated services; AI is available 24*7. This enables your company to deliver excellent customer services and resolve queries as soon as they arrive. The customer would no longer have to wait for a day or two before seeing their query answered.
Chatbots are also free from any bias, or they do not take matters into their own hands. Unlike humans, chatbots can be programmed to never argue with customers and escalate the calls to managers in a customer query is not resolved. Artificial Intelligence and NLP technology work in conjunction to listen to customer interactions in real-time. This will reduce the average resolution time. Also, the agents won’t have to build expertise in all products and processes that makes it easy for enterprises to shuffle workforce across teams where the need arises, which in turn results in improved customer experience and enhanced brand reputation of your organization.
72% Millennials believe that phone calls are not the best way to resolve a customer service issue. Millennials want to solve the problem themselves by reading FAQs, researching on the internet, asking on forums, or messaging a bot. This changing trend will only grow stronger as the next generation would become even more self-reliant and expect automated self-service options. It is paramount for businesses to adapt early before the customer journey begins getting negatively impacted AI-powered the business’ bottom lines.
Panacea for all Customer Problems – No!
AI-driven models use the cognitive representation as the basis to understand the customer intent. It’s unrealistic to expect that a canned AI application can fit into your organization’s processes and take over the customer support. Enterprises need to tune and train the AI models to drive unique business cases relevant to their business verticals. Companies need to begin building data repositories, processes, and mechanisms which can assist AI models learn quickly. It’s equally important to build workflows that allow queries and complaints come to human service agents before the simulated interactions begin to annoy customers. So, the success of Artificial Intelligence powered customer service is much a function of technological advancement as of a firm’s abilities to train AI models for specific tasks with massive reliable data-sets. Customer service is getting bigger and better than ever. Most of the transformation is an outcome of Artificial Intelligence that paves the way forward for organizations.