Artificial intelligence is a stream of computer science which deals with making computers act like humans. In other words AI involves intelligent machines. Gartner research suggests that, in a few years, for up to 89% of companies, customer experience will be the factor that decides on success or failure. Also, in five years, 85% of relationships between a customer and a business enterprise will not involve interacting with a human. With the development of AI, machines are able to carry out actions that were once believed to require human intelligence. Skills that can currently be performed by AI include recognizing and comprehending human speech (speech recognition and natural language processing), playing computer games against humans and analyzing data. Progress in the technology has been impressive. Facebook’s Deep Face technology has a 97% accuracy in recognizing faces. Most people have their own views about artificial intelligence. While some embrace the possibilities that the technology offers, others are wary of the dangers it could bring about – often hyped up by the media.

Artificial Intelligence is often used by businesses as a first level problem solving tool in customer service. Does using  AI affect the overall customer experience? Normally, what a customer wants when he or she  calls a customer helpline is to avoid being on hold for a long time and to have their problem resolved fast; if possible by themselves and if not with the assistance of a human. Turns out, organizations want the same; that is, the customer’s problems resolved at the earliest. They would like the customers to solve the problem themselves and opt to use chat when necessary. Using AI as a first-tier problem solving tool helps minimize time on hold and decreases the staffing requirement, which in turn leads to lower training and maintenance costs, thus benefiting both the customer and the business. If implemented right, it is a very wise investment.

AI is used widely in Smart Assist. Smart Assist helps customers by providing them with information about the product they own, and answering product related queries they might have. Using Smart Assist helps solve customer problems fast and minimizes the time the customer spends with the customer service agent. The system should be ‘smart’ enough to treat customers according to their needs and to make sure they are not on the IVR for long. Smart Assist could be used as a connecting tool between the customer and the IVR, where it would handle only the beginning of the call. It can also be used to handle the entire call , and this is often the preferred method. Smart Assist uses machine learning(machine learning enables computers to learn on their own) and NLP technologies to understand  customer requirement and route the call accordingly.

As of now, a machine that has complete AI has not been developed. There are tasks that computers cannot carry out by themselves. Serving a customer can be broken down to three stages – classifying the problem based on the nature, diagnosing the problem and resolving it or escalating it.AI can be effectively used for classifying the problem and for escalating it. By introducing a fully automated AI system, the risk of the system providing an insufficient response or a response that is difficult to comprehend exists. However, using AI alongside a human agent would be effective.AI can be used comfortably in IVRs to route customers or in transactions that can be handled by one. Businesses often shy away from using AI for the fear of negatively impacting the customer experience. But if it helps solve their problems fast and provides the option of switching over to a human agent at any point, most customers won’t have a problem, also improve Net Promoter Score.

Call centers being out of the picture completely might not happen in the near future, but using AI to handle non complicated tasks is definitely gaining popularity.AI can be used to provide assistance to human agents or vice versa. The internet can present a skewed or unfair picture about AI and hence using marketing and advertising tools to educate both existing and prospective customers about the possibilities that AI presents, might not be a bad idea. It could be lack of information that makes the general public biased. Advantages that AI presents to customers could be highlighted. For instance AI can be used to interact with a customer and provide continuous guidance to perform a complex transaction, to instill confidence in the customer. Learning more about the technology will definitely improve customer perception about AI.

To sum it up, if used right, AI can greatly enhance the customer experience. Businesses should not stay away from using AI fearing it could negatively impact the customer experience, it presents a whole world of possibilities.

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