The Role of AI in Enhancing Customer Service Experiences

Esme_Lee
edited February 6 in Business

From virtual assistants to personalization, and from automating marketing content to monitoring ratings,  AI proves that it has much to offer in the vibrant, busy world of business. How AI and digital transformation drive customer experience, in particular, brings about a very stimulating discussion.

AI and customer experience

In recent years, growing strategies to improve customer service can involve chatbots. With AI being increasingly accurate in processing text and responding to them (similar to the nature of ChatGPT), businesses have creatively adapted it to the area of customer service. Whether customers have a burning question about an item in their shopping cart, or if they have a complaint to make regarding a product, AI can “scan” the chat and reply to the customers with detailed, personalized information in a matter of seconds. The customer will be directed to a human representative only if the customer’s concern is more complicated and requires further evaluation. Google Bard, ChatGPT, and Microsoft Copilot are all tools that utilize natural language processing and machine learning algorithms to process user input and generate a response, this allows them to process and address customer queries with ease and speed.  This can save the customer the time and effort of wading through several pages of web content before their questions are answered.

This AI application is efficient and frees a business from trivial, business-to-client communication tasks that may feel overwhelming to the team. Furthermore, AI chatbots can provide support around the clock, making it more accessible to customers. Immediacy is another major advantage of AI applications–customers need not wait in tedious lines to have their questions answered. Some customers may also feel more comfortable using AI for customer service needs, as there is less of a reason to feel “judged’. This especially applies to customers with social anxiety or those with certain language barriers.

At the moment, around 23% of customer service companies have experimented with AI chatbots in their practice. Among customers more broadly, 80% claimed to have “spoken” to a chatbot for commercial reasons. This speaks to the possibility that AI may soon be gaining an increasing stage in customer service globally. Businesses that use Facebook to promote their brand have the option of incorporating chatbots in private messages with clients.

Looking at customer support more broadly, AI can also anticipate customer needs, providing proactive, automated service with “thoughtful touches” for the whole customer experience. For instance, AI can track the delivery status of an order and give updates whenever appropriate, relieving customers of any worries they might have about their purchase.

Challenges and ethical considerations of AI in customer service

Chatbots can be a resourceful assistant; however, we cannot disregard the idea that some customers simply do not enjoy the experience. Furthermore, while chatbots are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are able to understand and respond to complex queries, they still have some limitations at the moment, such as their ability to understand nuances in human language. As such, customers with more complicated questions or concerns would need to go through the hassle of an artificial chat before being directed to an actual representative. Chatbots are also ultimately non-human, and it is therefore difficult for them to “portray” the spirit of a business, or to show adequate care to their customers. Some customers may need a human representative to feel “safe”, so it can feel like a cold approach when businesses send robots to manage customer problems. In these cases, the customer would not know how seriously the request or concern is taken.

Also mention-worthy is the accountability of AI-powered chatbots. If a chatbot makes a mistake during its interaction with a customer, it is not straightforward to determine who is at fault. Ethically speaking, chatbots collect and store copious amounts of data in relation to customers. These AI systems might receive information about a customer’s address and other updates about their life. This, thus, can be a privacy issue that not all customers are adequately aware of. With these limitations, it is incumbent upon businesses to be transparent about their AI policies– how their AI systems work and what their limitations are. Collecting only data relevant to customer services is also a must.

Finally, a challenge in relation to AI and customer service is also one that persists in other sectors of business—job displacement. AI is now increasingly adept at processing customer requests, so much so that some customer service representatives, depending on the nature of their tasks, are slowly being made redundant (a vivid example being how a CEO replaced 90% of this support staff with virtual chatbots). This trend will cause a major reshuffle in how human resources are used.

Conclusion: Embracing AI for superior customer experiences

The path of unraveling AI’s applications in business can be both daunting and exciting. This may feel particularly true for customer service, where human-to-human interactions are still widely considered as the norm. Although AI does come with its caveats in customer services, its productivity and cost-efficiency in business will likely revolutionize commercial operations. It is here to stay, and we need to prepare for its influence–businesses and clients alike.

Esme Lee is a science writer and editor in the UK, carrying a passion for tech copywriting. She has a background in educational neuroscience and holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge.

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