According to Forbes, there’s no doubt that Artificial Intelligence is the future of customer service. But what does that actually mean? And more importantly, what will that even look like?
Since the pandemic, the customer service space has been a tricky one to navigate. Customer expectations are higher than ever - 72% of consumers say they will remain loyal to companies that provide quicker service. And 78% of service agents say it’s difficult to balance speed and quality of service, up from 63% since 2020.
It is all of these struggles that uncovered the desire for a new solution, and a timely one at that. Generative AI is not particularly novel notion, but unless you have been living under a rock, you may have noticed that it’s well and truly stepped into the spotlight recently - igniting opportunities for improvement across many industries.
How are Businesses Using AI in Customer Service?
Many organisations are already using AI for customer service. In fact, the share of service decision makers who report using AI has increased by 88% since 2020 - up to 45% from 24%. This number is sure to only increase as the months go by.
There are many ways AI can be used in Customer Service, many I'm sure we are all already aware of. Ever spoken to a chatbot in the pursuit of help? Congrats, you’ve already dealt with one of the most common pieces of AI in customer service. Beyond common questions, chatbots can greet your customers, send them relevant information, guide them through processes and elevate more complex problems to a live agent.
A few other ways we’re seeing AI show up in the industry are through predictive analytics and sentiment analysis. With predictive analytics AI analyses customer behaviour and data to anticipate their needs, allowing businesses to proactively address issues and provide relevant solutions, whereas with sentiment analysis, AI algorithms assess customer sentiments expressed in interactions, helping businesses gauge customer satisfaction and identify areas for improvement.
All of these are just the beginning, though. Given the recent advances in this kind of tech, we can expect to see chatbots as well as voice bots take on a whole new level of responsibility, helpfulness and intelligence.
Goldman Sachs predicts that AI could replace the equivalent of 300 million full-time jobs in the Customer Service industry. However, most experts disagree, and instead have predicted that most roles will be augmented and automated, rather than replaced.
Through the automation of mundane tasks, AI could provide a much more pleasant experience with more self-service options – whilst aiding some of the customer service industries most prevalent problems; burnout and inefficiency. Working in customer service is notoriously stressful, with the role/s being named one of the world's top 10 most stressful jobs - and companies see turnover rates of up to 45% of agents every year.
This turnover rate has led to a large talent shortage, costing companies who need to continuously recruit and train new employees – all of which influences the customer and employee experience.
The Future of Customer Service
Predicting the future is no easy feat, but given the constant state of advancements the AI space seems to live in, we’re sure the future ahead is impressive. So, what are some things that we can expect?
Ongoing developments in AI, including more sophisticated natural language understanding and emotional intelligence will further improve customer service capabilities, enabling AI systems to engage in more nuanced and context-aware conversations. Along with this, AI systems will evolve through continuous learning, adapting to changing customer needs and preferences with greater accuracy and efficiency.
As AI algorithms become more sophisticated, customer service interactions will become increasingly personalised. AI will analyse vast amounts of customer data to anticipate individual needs and preferences, enabling businesses to offer tailored recommendations and solutions in real-time. This level of personalisation will contribute to a more positive customer experience and foster stronger customer loyalty.
It’s important to remember that AI won’t replace human customer service jobs in the short term simply because there are so many open jobs. With limited budgets and talent shortages, contact centres are looking to do more with less and make the most of their limited workforce - AI is the best tool for both of those issues. As businesses navigate this transformative journey, the key lies in finding the right balance between AI-driven automation and the human touch that remains essential in customer interactions.