How AI Fits into the Evolving Customer Service Landscape

–By Tiago Paiva. Republished with permission from Talkdesk
Looking into 2018, it seems that using AI (Artificial Intelligence) to handle customer service interactions is a trend that will only increase. With huge AI advances, it’s an easy way to resolve some customer issues, but that’s not to be confused with completely replacing human-to-human customer service interaction.
All customer service interactions are on a spectrum that has two axes: emotion and urgency. Each channel can be viewed from the standpoint of those two axes and placed on a quadrant like this one:
Talkdesk Customer Service Interactions chart
New AI tools are rapidly emerging in the support space. They can address high-urgency situations quickly, but when it comes to high-emotion scenarios, no AI can replicate human empathy, so there’s a distinct advantage to having a real person help a customer. High-stress moments are the ones that stick with customers forever, so it’s vitally important to develop a keen sense for determining which customer service functions AI can handle and which cases need to be handled by a human with AI assistance.
The rule should be to use the speed of AI for objective yes/no functions and outcomes that can be resolved by an algorithm. For example, AI can instantly run a query and tell you if an order you’ve placed has shipped. That’s a perfect utilization of that technology.
Inquiries that are high on the emotional spectrum or could involve unique problem solving are different, and there’s no substitute for the personal touch of a human. AI can tell you if your order has shipped, but you’ll need a live agent to handle the emotion of a caller whose order shipped to the wrong address or whose product was damaged during delivery.
AI can help with all the routine customer interactions, but it’s not a shortcut around human-to-human service, it’s a catalyst. Instead of replacing the human agent out of the support process entirely, AI can instead be used to make that agent more efficient, preserving the human connection with customers in place while also delivering the speed and efficiency offered by AI solutions.
For example, intelligent routing uses information about an incoming call to automatically connect that caller to the agent best suited to handle their issue. Customers often try to self-serve before calling customer support, so context tools also provide that agent with information about what the caller was attempting to do before they called.
In this case, your customers are making human connections with your brand, but instead of starting the call with a frustrating story, the agent can answer the call, greet the customer by name and use contextual information to start the call as close to the solution as possible. This approach is a much more efficient use of the customer’s time and illustrates the company’s dedication to making their experience as smooth and as positive as possible.
These new AI tools can put your customers’ agents directly in their customer’s shoes, a perfect place to build loyalty. As the year kicks off, we’re making resolutions to find new ways to let AI to create more empathetic, more human interactions with customers. I’d encourage you all to join in too.
About the Author
Tiago Paiva is the CEO and Founder of Talkdesk. Talkdesk is an intelligent cloud-based contact center platform that helps connect companies to customers and prospects. The easy-to-use interface offers robust functionality with smart features, comprehensive reporting and one-click integrations with 25+ business tools to empower sales and service teams to have more meaningful, personalized conversations.