AI - Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence Set to Transform Customer Service

Artificial Intelligence is starting to transform the customer service industry.
Photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash

To increase efficiency and satisfaction levels with Customer Service, deploying a variety of technology-enabled solutions such as automated call centers, customer service bots, and digital marketing intelligence can help smaller companies compete on a global scale.

As you may have experienced, it is increasingly likely that when you call to activate your new credit card, check on your cable bill, or file an insurance claim, your first point of contact is a voice or chat bot that is driven by AI.

Data shows that the top 1% of a retailer’s customers are worth 18x more than its average customer. The Customer Experience or CX that defines the quality of all the interactions that take place between companies and their customers is critical to maintain at the highest levels possible. It’s a key success factor in building trust, loyalty, and repeat business.

The most effective tool for engaging those discriminating, high-value customers is through personalization. The question that marketers need to address with great care is how to balance the power of AI fueled Customer Service initiatives with the perceived risks from the customer point of view?

  • In a recent study by the Brookings Institute, 39 percent of those polled expressed worry about the overall impact of AI, while 38 percent said AI will lead to fewer jobs for humans. 
  • Much of the concern was based on worries about data security, with 49 percent saying AI will lead to diminished privacy.

Considering the current consumer perspectives on what AI means in their lives, could using AI as the backbone of Customer Service strategy mistakenly create a barrier between brands and consumers? While a personal touch is thought to be indispensable to engagement and loyalty, are consumers ready to accept a scenario where most or all of the touchpoints between brand and themselves are delivered via digital? Will they be put off by the potentially sterile environment that is created?

You don’t have to look far to find social proof that consumers are already highly conditioned to interact with other people via mostly digital means. For example:

  • When I need to call or email someone I don’t know personally, I scan LinkedIn profiles for 10 seconds to get everything I need to know about that person in advance.
  • In personal interactions, I use Facebook to keep track of what people are up to, their kids’ names, and so on. Spending 30 seconds on Facebook allows me to catch up with an old friend without ever speaking to them.

This new way to “connect” with others is not only socially acceptable, it’s a norm, even a preference. Brands have taken note and, with 7 billion people in the world for brands to connect with, the only way to communicate with any degree of personalization is through technology.

The takeaways here are to be on the lookout for pitfalls of using Artificial Intelligence in the Customer Service realm:

  • If your chatbot or conversational machine is not fully capable of replicating a human interaction, causing customers to “hash out” of the call tree and seek a human voice, think twice before implementing.
  • Resist the temptation to reduce all “friction” from brand/customer interactions with the objective of making these interactions “seamless”. Removing all friction can mean we bring our customers to a point of “inertia” where the customer doesn’t need to pay any attention to our brand at all. 

I’m in agreement with Seth Godin on this one: as he says in his blog, when AI is well-implemented across industry “You won’t be surprised by artificial intelligence.”

In other words, when AI is done well, you won’t notice anything out of the ordinary. Done right and AI brings your brand closer to the customer, not farther apart.

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