Organizations Move Toward AI Customer Service
Artificial intelligence (AI) is an ever-evolving technology — one that admittedly brings to mind Hollywood blockbusters that usually end poorly for humans. Fictional stories aside, this tech is revolutionizing the way things work across industries, and AI customer service is on the front lines.
Using AI for customer service needs is gaining traction so well, in fact, that a recent Oracle study found nearly 80 percent of businesses either are already deploying the technology or plan to do so in the next few years. When witnessing such impressive gains for a young technology, it’s important to ask: What exactly does AI bring to the customer service table? The answer, as it turns out, is twofold.
The Cyborgs Have Arrived
The first method in which AI customer service applications are used is in partnership with their human counterparts. In this scenario, businesses reinforce their existing customer service agents — of the human variety — with AI technology. Lovingly termed “cyborg,” this model adds an AI layer to electronic responses that may be conducted over Facebook Messenger or Twitter.
The AI’s role in this case is to intelligently and automatically retrieve answers to customer questions. The human agent is then only responsible for formatting and editing. Over time, the AI is able to recognize these edits and respond with increasing accuracy.
Another benefit to AI-assisted humans — as opposed to AI only — is that they’re not limited to text-based applications. One Boston-based customer service business, Interactions, is leveraging this method to route voice calls, according to Forbes. With the help of some pretty clever biometric software, their setup allows AI to identify voice features and authenticate calls, thus streamlining the entire customer service process.
AI on the Front Lines
For those looking at a more comprehensive solution, AI customer service bots are being deployed with surprising efficiency. One enterprise in particular — China Merchant Bank — has witnessed its front-end bots wade through some 2 million customer service encounters each day, Forbes mentions. That’s several orders of magnitude more than even the most skilled customer service team.
And this kind of efficiency has other benefits, too. Enterprises that employ AI customer service bots typically experience tangible cost savings. Customer service AI, while not as sophisticated as its human counterpart, is far cheaper when broken down to a per-call cost. And as a front-line triage, they don’t need to be terribly sophisticated. In China Merchant Bank’s case, they just needed a more efficient way to handle the flood of account balance and payment inquiries.
Ultimately, AI customer service solutions aren’t bound to these two applications. As the technology continues to mature and businesses become more comfortable with its capabilities, we’ll no doubt see a steady flow of innovative strategies. As it stands, those looking for cost-effective ways to streamline their own customer service processes would be well-served to at least explore this transformative technology.