Artificial Intelligence (AI) improves the economics and capabilities of everything around us. Consumers are starting to expect intelligent experiences – personal, contextual to their immediate situation, and highly relevant – every time they interact with a company. Customer service interactions are no exception. In fact, four in 10 contact centre decision-makers are exploring using AI technologies to differentiate their service.
AI can assist agents in completing repetitive tasks, or even completely take these tasks over. Yet, instead of replacing humans entirely, AI will enhance agents’ skills and allow them to focus their attention beyond routine tasks. Agents instead will handle customer interactions that require deeper insight, and analysis. These interactions will often take longer to resolve and are opportunities to nurture profitable customer relationships, which are increasingly rare in a digital-first world.
AI for customer service will:
- Deliver CX. Close to half of consumers already use intelligent assistants to sustain automated conversations. Intelligent agents for customer service will power single-purpose chatbots such as those used by Dutch airline KLM to communicate booking confirmations to virtual agents that embed deep learning. AI will make these conversations natural and effective, and will delight customers. They will anticipate needs based on discerned context, preferences and prior queries, while also delivering advice, resolutions, alerts and offers. And they will become better over time.
- Make operations smarter. AI will up-level contact centre operations, and streamline inquiry capture and resolution. It will extract useful information from voice and digital conversations and images, as well as machine-to-machine communications, to quickly surface trends in issues and customer sentiment that may affect customer retention and loyalty. It will schedule maintenance appointments and push fixes to connected devices. It will make field operations more efficient; for example, restocking parts based on needs, or intelligently optimising field resources to provide on-demand service.
- new revenue streams and reinvent business models. AI can uncover patterns in large data sets that may reveal new insights that companies can use to create entirely new services for customers that can be monetised. Machine-learning algorithms used for business and customer intelligence find answers to questions that humans didn’t even know to ask.
Many will agree that AI today, as a technology, is still in its infancy. Yet even at this early stage, AI is having measurable impact on customer service, having started to deliver real results.