Happy Holidays! As the new year dawns, many of us take the time to reflect on the milestones achieved in the past, and also look ahead to what the future has in store. How many changes will 2018 bring about for those in customer service? What innovations and technologies will be transforming the world and shaping its future? Are chatbots and virtual agents likely to replace humans any time soon? And if so, what does the future hold for human CSRs and what will be the role of AI in customer service then?
2017 has seen a proliferation of innovations in customer service featuring AI-powered chatbots and virtual agents for a wide range of purposes from engaging at a pre-sales point to assisting with billing transactions and making post-sales service appointments. With the obvious increase in use of AI technology, let me briefly summarize some of the recent trends shaping the role of AI in customer service.
No Qualms About AI
It’s almost 90 years since one of the first humanoid robots was presented at the annual exhibition of the Model Engineers Society in London in 1928. The following years have seen groundbreaking research into developing intelligent machines that employ human brain-based features. No doubt, the results we can enjoy now on a daily basis using Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant would be seen as crowning AI achievements fifty years ago. And still, we are in the early days of AI-powered customer service, states a recent Forrester Report covering the present and future of AI in customer service.
Today’s chatbots are smart and, certainly, can outperform humans in some repetitive manual tasks based on existing ensemble learning algorithms, working smoothly and efficiently 24/7. And still, at this infancy stage of AI, current chatbots lack human emotion and yet could not deliver personalized customer experience on par with a real person. When it comes to customer service, it is the creative and empathetic human touch that can make or break the entire experience and relationship, especially in complex or controversial cases.
Will we be able to impart the knowledge and the art of human touch to rapidly evolving technology? It could be reasonably argued, but hope you agree that there’s a plenty of patterns we can teach AI based on real-life cases. Further advances in AI would be impossible without insights of human guidance for a specific domain or field. In the 2017 report featuring AI in customer service, Gartner predicts that by 2019 more than 10% of IT hires in customer service will be mostly involved into creating scripts for bot interactions.
Top it off, writing scripts and creating efficient algorithms will be only part of the new story. According to the “AI is the new UI: Experience Above All” report by Accenture, as AI is taking on more sophisticated roles within technology interfaces, so do the human employees. Giving AI the resources it needs to advance means bringing broad changes to business processes and infrastructure. 27% of executives surveyed by Accenture believe AI will completely transform their organizations over the next three years.
So What’s Ahead in Customer Service?
As another Forrester Report commissioned by Genesys “Artificial Intelligence With The Human Touch” summarizes it, enterprises adopt AI solutions to improve both customer and agent satisfaction ahead of cost savings, with 46% of respondents pursuing the objective of keeping CSRs satisfied and productive.
Good news and changes AI brings to customer service will transform the way agents handle routine customer issues. In a nutshell, through implementing AI in customer service centers, we’ll get not rivals but rather powerful helpers aimed at super-charging the performance of human agents. With so much customer data available today, it becomes crucial to introduce automation of repetitive agent tasks such as looking up previous customer inquiries, omni-channel information gathering and extracting useful information from images, voice and video conversations.
Moreover, pretty much as virtual agents provide relevant information to customers, anticipating their needs by context, prior inquiries and preferences, AI tools will assist customer service representatives suggesting the most relevant content and best next steps for a case resolution instantly in the course of a customer interaction, letting the customer service agent choose which piece of information would be best suited for each particular situation.
Smart technology will also use background information to automatically escalate and classify customer requests, as well as optimize chat routing based on previous customer requests and their account records. AI-infused customer service will be much faster, smarter and more personalized since the new technology will cut the effort and let support agents address customer interactions more creatively, using their critical thinking and problem-solving skills to the full capacity. Eventually, companies will enjoy higher customer satisfaction and loyalty owing to the enhanced customer experience the new AI tools offer.
No doubt, in the near future the world of customer service will see many innovative transformations. This will take some honest looking at where we can do without humans and a lot of work. But it also will bring along a lot of great opportunities for those who are ready to grow, develop new skills and take on new roles.
Are there any other thoughts concerning AI in customer service you would like to add to this post? Would you like to share your views and ideas with our blog readers? Let me know in the comments below! And as always, thank you for reading our blog!
Provide Support is a leading software provider in customer service, offering live chat and real-time visitor monitoring tool for websites. Empowering customer service with live chat www.providesupport.com
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