Cofounder and CEO of PissedConsumer, a review platform that helps consumers be heard and brands improve their customer service processes.
Staying current with the pace of global developments and addressing the problems brought about by them requires flexibility. Companies built with a long-term strategy understand the importance of maintaining high-level customer service solutions, and they are always striving towards keeping a high service standard with their clients. Now, the world is undergoing a new industrial revolution, with artificial intelligence (AI) emerging as a major force and focus. Numerous sectors are integrating AI tools into their production and service delivery processes, taking the opportunity to accelerate, streamline and improve different areas of their operations with this technology.
Given the rapid development of AI relative to previous technologies like computers and the internet, it’s natural for companies to feel they cannot afford to take a passive stance or postpone their involvement with AI in an attempt to mitigate risk. But while AI may be touted as the exclusive path to progress, it’s important to understand how it works; caution and a keen awareness of the technology’s limitations are going to be necessary.
The Benefits And Limitations Of AI Chatbots
There is a lot of hype right now around Open AI’s ChatGPT, and what interests me most about this technology is its possible applications in customer service improvement.
I’ve spent twenty years working in and alongside customer service at every level, going from Help Desk Assistant to the Director of Investor Services Technology. In this time, I’ve seen chatbots prove to be a valuable, cost-reducing customer service tool. What ChatGPT brings to the table, however, goes far beyond the capabilities offered by legacy chatbots, and it has the potential to improve customer service in ways that were not previously possible.
Rather than being restricted to a set of rote responses, Chat GPT is “trained” on existing human content published on the internet. All the bot’s conclusions, perspectives and responses are based on patterns found in past human expression. I see such generative AI as a kind of “thinking FAQ” that pushes the abilities of an AI chatbot to intelligently match existing answers and solutions to a customer request by vastly broadening the pool of responses (a much complained-about limitation of chatbots) and reducing the number of times a customer faces a dead end that needs human involvement to progress.
By minimizing the need for human intervention (up to 80% of basic client queries can be suitably addressed with AI chatbots), the use of AI-enhanced customer service can return a 30% reduction in the cost of customer service provision. Putting that into a dollar figure, a recent report conducted by Juniper Research has determined that the use of chatbots will save businesses $11 billion a year.
However, even though chatbots do lower the costs of human assistance, their limitations are clear. While generative AI may be able to patch together useful information in an efficient way, it is far from truly innovative and still lacks the dynamism and creative thinking that makes a good customer service agent—someone who can think on their feet, interpret customers’ less straightforward situations and concerns, and empathize on a human level. While many customers do appreciate the convenience for simple requests, many others see chatbot AI as an additional hoop to jump through in their attempts to speak to a human customer service agent—a further, time-consuming step that they may choose to avoid altogether, potentially costing you a customer.
Merging The Old And The New
I believe the answer is to merge the advantages of AI technologies and human agents, rather than replacing one with the other. Adapting to the new doesn’t mean we have to throw out everything that has worked so far. Consider the potential benefits of an AI-supported customer service model: In this arrangement, AI would help staff find answers in real time to offer superior customer service. Such a system could be utilized to anticipate client demands before they contact your company—based on instantaneous analysis of existing data such as purchases, payment method, etc.—and offer relevant prompts for the CS agent that might otherwise be overlooked. This setup could be of great assistance in reducing call times, avoiding frustrating the customer, and deepening the customer relationship through personalization of service.
I believe that innovation paired with the fundamentals of a personalized customer service relationship will be what divides the exceptional from the also-rans as we adapt to this shift. Ultimately, AI is only as good as the data it is given, so it is just as important that we continue developing the sources that give us the best data and ensure any tools we adopt go towards creating excellent customer service experiences and more effective CS agents. This way, implementing AI-enabled customer experience solutions will not only improve customer satisfaction and cut costs by reducing the time spent on dealing with customer enquiries, but also positively impact the overall health of your business.
Overall, I am looking with optimism toward ChatGPT and its implications, although it is still a bit early to determine what the future holds for this technology and, more importantly, where it will take us. I recommend that leaders in the customer service industry proceed with caution: Adopting this technology may be necessary, but plunging wholesale into replacing replacing human agents with AI could have negative consequences in the long run. Instead, consider how you can incorporate this technology to further support and grow your customer service agents and, by extension, help ensure your clients continue to have great customer experiences.
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