Original article was published by Atif M. on Artificial Intelligence on Medium
6 Predictions on the Future of Customer Service
Companies are currently deploying artificial intelligence (AI) in customer service to both augment and replace human agents. The primary goals are to improve customer experience and to reduce human customer service costs.
What is Customer Service?
Customer service is the service a company provides to its customer before, during, and after they have made a purchase.
In simpler words, customer service is the direct one-to-one interaction between a consumer making a purchase and a representative of the company making the sale.
This direct interaction is a critical factor in ensuring buyer satisfaction and encouraging repeat business.
What is Artificial Intelligence (AI)?
AI is a field of computer science, focused on creating machines that seem like they possess human intelligence. The intelligent behavior of these machines may exhibit learning, understanding, self-correction and problem-solving.
As customer expectations grow, companies are forced to rethink their approach to customer service
Experts had predicted that by 2020, 85% of all customer service interactions would be handled without the need of a human agent.
Let’s discuss six predictions on the future of customer service due to the employment of AI.
AI Would Automate Simple Tasks
In any traditional contact center, frontline agents have to deal with the load of repetitive tasks, most of which are very simple. This takes away a lot of time that could be utilized in performing more important tasks that require human attention.
Simple tasks like tagging and categorizing Emails, answering basic queries and rerouting calls, in addition to costing time, diminish overall job satisfaction among the employees in customer service.
The major shift towards the employment of machine learning (ML) would allow the automation of many such monotonous and frustrating tasks.
Basic service automation and workflow technologies have been around for years; however, ML algorithms are special. These are computer-implementable instructions that improve their performance over time as they encounter more and more data.
ML algorithms get better over time at optimizing how simple tasks are handled. This would result in a substantial impact on bottom-line profitability in a contact center.
The reduction in the need for human agents to handle simple queries would allow more agents to put greater focus on higher-level interactions that contribute to customer satisfaction, retention, and overall lifetime value.
Emergence Of A New Reality: Predictive Customer Support
People have always been reaching out to companies whenever they have issues. As we move forward, companies would begin to leverage the data they have at their disposal to get out in front of issues and anticipate problems.
Predictive care would be facilitated by AI-powered agents with authority to act on contextual and profile data.
For example, an airline would be able to understand that there is a probability of a person missing their flight due to a traffic jam or security line congestion preemptively rebook her on the next flight.
Voice Channels such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa would Emerge as Powerful Support Tools
While Email may continue to be the most important channel, voice channels would emerge as fun and engaging ways to offer customer support.
Customers are using channels at an impressive rate: Google Assistant deals with millions of users per day. A company named WestJet is leveraging this captive audience.
The Canadian airline has launched its virtual agent Juliet on Google Assistant. Without lifting a finger, travelers are now able to get information related to baggage allowances, flight status, and required travel documentation.
There are very specific customer queries that work very well for voice channels, including troubleshooting, order status, and subscription modifications.
Conversational Artificial Intelligence and more Accurate AI Agents
Customer satisfaction would increase as AI agents would become more accurate. Many companies that had adopted chatbots early on had received a backlash from consumers for causing frustration with their limited capabilities.
Therefore, companies had to deploy more advanced conversational AI agents that could engage better in natural conversations. Another advantage of conversational AI is that it improves over time as it learns from real interactions with the users.
Within a year or two, AI agents would accurately resolve 80 to 90 percent of the text-based tickets.
With the increased accuracy of AI agents, their ability to interact in natural conversation and resolve tickets, customer satisfaction would significantly rise.
Customer Service Agents Should Expect Higher-Level Technical and Management Training
Although AI is going to replace customer service agents to carry out simple and repetitive tasks, it is not like customer service agents are going to lose their jobs, or they would eventually disappear. Rather, their jobs are likely to change.
Companies would start training their customer service agents for jobs that require more advanced technical and management skills. Nearly 30% of current duties that are assigned to customer service agents could soon be augmented by AI.
Agents who once used to answer simple and repeatable queries would now monitor and manage virtual agents and put greater focus on high-level and complex customer issues.
Therefore, customer service agent would evolve into a higher-level position and the compensation would reflect this.
AI Would Make Big Data More Accessible
In simple words, big data is a term to describe a large volume of data that keeps growing exponentially with time. This data could be structured or unstructured, and it inundates a business on a day-to-day basis.
The amount of data matters less. What a company does with this data matters more.
For decades it has been a challenge for entrepreneurs to collect maximum information about their customers in order to make informed decisions in marketing and customer service.
It is important to know the demographics of your target audience. When and how are they most likely to convert? Do they prefer to search on desktop or mobile? There could be a lot more.
Although this information has been available to companies, it has never been easy to collect, and it has not always been reliable.
In the past, collecting and analyzing this data took plenty of time; time that could be spent on other important tasks such as website development, product creation, and marketing efforts.
AI is able to analyze huge chunks of data, especially the data from Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, and convert it into reports that are easily accessible. This allows business owners to easily and quickly understand the important details about their target audience.
This data provided by AI is generally more reliable than the information collected, processed, and analyzed by humans.
Business owners would have more time to make decisions based on the data since it would take less time with AI to crack what the data actually means.
Conclusion — We are Entering into an Era of Personalized Customer Service and Advanced Customer Experiences
AI has allowed customer service departments to streamline their work and to automate details, and AI is here to continue helping.
Agents are able to focus on more complex issues while the chatbots and other AI-enabled technologies perform in the background routing calls, helping customers, and in the process collecting loads of data.
To accomplish personalization in customer service and advanced customer experiences, your business should employ AI and big data.
Use of CRM platform equipped with AI is a great way to take the plunge into this thrilling business revolution. The use of right tools would allow you to help your employees be more productive and more efficient.
Availability of these resources would provide employees at your company more time to carry out tasks that help them and add value to your business.