How may AI help you?

August 27, 2021 · 9 minute read

Thomas Chung

Growth

TLDR

Find out how AI is being used to enhance your customer service experience in person, online, or over the phone.

Outline

  • Intro

  • How AI is being used in customer service today

  • The future of AI and customer service

  • Overcoming AI challenges

  • Conclusion

Intro

What comes to mind when you hear the words “customer service?” Is it a pleasant experience from your local coffee shop where the baristas remember your name and order?

They know me too well… (Source: 

Giphy

)

Is it a one of a kind experience dining at a 3-Michelin star restaurant?

I’ll have what he’s having! (Source: 

Giphy)

Is it a dreadful memory from your last visit to the DMV?

Oh the horror! (Source: 

Giphy

)

Or is it simply the convenience of receiving your package to your doorstep today, yesterday, and probably tomorrow?

Make it rain! (Source: 

Giphy

)

The concept of customer service has existed ever since there was a form of trade (we’ll just say it was a very long time ago). As explorers and merchants set sail across the sea to find and bring back goods, ideas about how to treat customers began to rise. With the creation of the telephone by 

Alexander Graham Bell

and the 

switchboard

 in the late 1800s, businesses were able to connect with customers over the phone. This led to higher forms of quality in customer service, which businesses continually strive for today.

How AI is being used in customer service today

Product and services go hand-in-hand with customer service. With advancement in technology comes the new challenges in finding new ways of engaging and keeping customers happy. One common practice has been implementing AI technology to enhance modern day customer experience. It’s more than likely that you’ve interacted with an AI recently, without even realizing it. Here are some examples on how AI is used to improve customer service today.

Chatbots

One of the most common ways AI has been integrated into customer service is through chatbots. Chatbots are one of the most common use cases of AI in customer service and a great way to provide convenient and immediate engagement to fit the schedule of busy customers. Chatbots are used as a great first line of support and can be used to answer the most common questions in real-time. Many companies such as Whole Foods, Lyft, Spotify, Sephora, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, etc. use chatbots for food or drink orders, ride requests, music or recipe search, tutorials, and more. Oftentimes, you can just send a message via Facebook Messenger or SMS text.

Sliding into Pizza Hut’s DM like… (Source: VentureBeat)

Of course, we can’t leave out 

IBM’s Watson Assistant

. Watson Assistant can seamlessly automate tasks, connect to a CRM system, derive insights from data and improve agent productivity.

Even our team has worked on chatbots in the past at

Airbnb to provide faster COVID-19 community support

.

(Source: 

Giphy

)

Email

Similarly, AI allows for automated customer support emails through personalized and highly accurate responses. According to 

Hubspot

, 62% of customers want to communicate with companies via email for customer service, 48% over the phone, 42% live chat, and 36% want “Contact Us” forms. Just like chatbots, AI can help to automate customer inbound emails efficiently and available to respond 24/7 using natural language processing. With hyper-personalized understanding of customers, AI in email is a great way to improve user satisfaction, customer acquisition and furthermore retention.

(Source: 

Giphy

)

IVR

Another form of AI customer service integration is Interactive Voice Response (IVR). You’ve heard this before, when you tried calling your bank or phone or internet provider. After a few “yes” or “no,” you get transferred to the correct person or department to answer your specific question, rather than bouncing them around to irrelevant or dead ends (we hope). This is an example of how AI makes it easier for applications to process natural speech input through automatic speech recognition (ASR).

(Source: Chatbots Magazine)

The future of AI and customer service

We’ve all heard of voice assistance such as Siri, Alexa, Google Home, and Cortana, but have you heard of Cora

?

Meet Cora (Source: 

Soul Machines

)

Cora is a virtual assistant developed by 

Soul Machines

, an AI company based in New Zealand. Cora was being tested as a virtual customer service representative at NatWest, a bank in Great Britain. Like a chatbot, Cora was consistent, never slept, and could answer questions 24/7. The biggest feature was that Cora would be able to analyze facial expressions and speech. Unfortunately, it appeared to have been short-lived as NatWest now promotes 

Cora as a digital assistant

 but in the form of a chatbot.

AI Companies like Soul Machines believe that millions, if not billions, of AI will exist in the future. Their goal is to “humanize AI” and to create astonishing Digital People. This may lead to a future in which humans can potentially have a digital twin in the future (artificial humans). We’ll leave that conversation for a future article. Anyone ordered their 

Tesla Bot 

yet?

Does it come with FSD? (Source: 

Teslarati

)

Overcoming AI challenges

Some of the biggest hurdles and challenges for AI in customer service revolves around job displacement. With a push for any form of automation, questions of impact on jobs and workers tend to rise. A recent study by Lynn Wu, a professor at Wharton, analyzed the impact of automation and found that companies that adopted robots ahead of others in their industry became more competitive and grew more, leading to more hiring of workers. Ironically, job loss came from companies who did not adopt robots as they lost their competitive edge and had to resort to laying off workers.

(Source: TechCrunch)

⁠Other concerns involve handling of sensitive information, data privacy, and trust between technology, employees, and customers.

(Source: 

Giphy

)

Conclusion

AI is becoming a bigger part of our lives whether we know it or not (check out the impact of AI in other industries such as 

media & entertainment

transportation

healthcare

art

finance

gaming

, etc.). Those who have figured out how to leverage AI effectively have already gained significant returns in efficiency, improved performance, and overall customer satisfaction. In the end, we can all agree that integrating AI in customer service generates value for everyone.

Let’s talk about how AI can add value to your organization. Contact us at 

hello@mage.ai

 and we can discuss how 

Mage

 can help you find practical solutions through AI/ML technology.

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