Artificial intelligence in customer service has been a source of debate within several different industries, but what exactly is AI support, and how would it benefit businesses seeking to improve their customer service operation?

artificial intelligence customer serviceWe’ve all grown accustomed to using programs or scripts to perform methodical, automated tasks. For example, Google uses crawler bots to scan and categorize web pages based on their content and several other ranking factors in its ever-evolving (and rather elusive) algorithm. As a result, when you visit Google’s homepage and perform a search, you receive the most relevant content within a matter of milliseconds.

However, AI takes it a step further. By using machine learning, a series of algorithms are responsible for uncovering patterns and generating insights from that data. It’s not built to be programmed, but rather designed to learn from experience; to learn about you, your company and most importantly – your customers. It’s constantly learning and refining itself. Deep learning, a subset of machine learning, represents the closest thing to mimicking how humans think and learn.

In a recent feature on 60 Minutes, IBM’s Watson shows us what the future holds for AI. The answers and suggestions provided by IBM Watson’s AI are cognitive and show its amazing ability to pick up on the subtle nuances behind each request.

The 60 Minutes segment on cancer treatment also showed us that Watson is capable of picking up on things that the human eye cannot detect on its own. It not only brings up information based on recently published scientific research, but can also recommend the most effective treatment options using this data.

What About Chatbot Customer Service AI?

 According to Gartner Inc. research, AI machine learning will continue evolving to a point where many tasks that are currently being performed by professionals will become low-cost utilities. These rapid advancements in machine learning, natural language processing, and real-time computing have enabled users to interact with computers that are powered by chatbot customer service AI in much the same way they interact with humans.

A limited survey by Accenture of 33,000 consumers in 18 countries showed that approximately 70% of investors would be “willing to receive computer generated advice from a financial service entity,” and not human brokers who can be swayed by profit margins.

On the other hand, we’ve all experienced the shortcomings of robotic customer service systems. You call up seeking help and wanting to speak with a live customer service agent, only to be redirected to an automated system. Most of the time, these systems are very frustrating to deal with, and they could potentially wind up driving away customers for good. If you’re truly concerned about customer retention, the focus should be on delighting and not annoying your customers.

What Can AI Powered Customer Service Do for You?

Today’s customers demand the option to solve simple issues on their own, and chatbot customer service AI can help guide them without the need for live human assistance.

AI-backed programs can detect how customers phrase their questions to produce responses that closely match their speaking style, which in turn helps customers better understand the solution. And instead of repeating information back to the customer, AI-backed systems will ask them a series of questions to clarify the issue, then provide recommendations, or offer to walk them through the process. AI-backed systems can do all of this quickly and accurately while using an empathetic, human-like voice.

In addition, AI-backed systems will provide additional suggestions based on the historical data related to that issue. For example, it will anticipate the next sequential problem that may occur and provide suggestions on how to resolve it. That way, everything is handled in one phone call so that customers won’t have to phone in each time a new problem arises.

In a recent article published by Business Insider, Salesforce’s AI-backed system, Einstein, learned how to recognize when customers were angry via text and in email. It was programmed to detect when the conversation should be escalated to a live customer service representative.

AI systems that are programmed to recognize these common issues and take the next course of action automatically can save you and your customers a lot of time and aggravation.

To Sum Up

As with every major technological leap, some jobs will become obsolete due to advancements in AI technology. Older industries will fade while new ones take their place. However, while simple, mundane tasks will soon be overtaken by AI, human interaction is still one of the most important services you can offer to your customers.
Rather than replacing customer support staff, using artificial intelligence in customer service will be most effective serving in a supportive role, which will free workers from having to complete repetitive tasks. Customer service agents will be able to use that additional time to provide more interaction and engagement with your customer base.