IS AR­TI­FI­CIAL IN­TEL­LI­GENCE THE FU­TURE OF SER­VICE?

AS CON­SUMERS WE ARE NEVER RE­ALLY sat­is­fied with cus­tomer ser­vice. In fact, busi­ness re­views to­day are show­ing that this is one of the few ar­eas of dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion be­tween com­peti­tors. Alis­ter Maple-Brown looks at the po­ten­tial of Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence (

Elite Property Manager - - Realty Bytes - Alis­ter Maple-Brown, CEO, Rock­end

There’s just some­thing about pick­ing up a phone to talk to a cus­tomer ser­vice rep that’s ag­i­tat­ing. But why?

Once you’ve searched the com­pany web­site to find the right num­ber, you in­evitably speak to some­one who com­pletely fails to un­der­stand what you’re say­ing. You an­swer ques­tions asked by a real hu­man only to find out you’re not speak­ing to the right per­son or are trans­ferred to some­one else. When you’re fi­nally trans­ferred to the right per­son, you’re so frus­trated with the en­tire process you’re close to los­ing it, de­mand to speak to a su­per­vi­sor or threaten to switch to a new provider. Sound fa­mil­iar?

En­ter Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence.

WHAT IS AI?

Thanks to Hol­ly­wood, when many of us think about AI we en­vis­age ro­bots tak­ing over the world. And, be­cause it’s largely mis­un­der­stood, many fear even con­sid­er­ing adopt­ing the tech­nol­ogy. But ig­nor­ing is not go­ing to make it go away.

Put sim­ply, AI is a branch of com­puter sci­ence fo­cus­ing on de­vel­op­ing ap­pli­ca­tions and tech­nol­ogy to per­form like hu­man be­ings, based on in­for­ma­tion gath­ered from be­hav­iour pat­terns, speech recog­ni­tion, on­line ac­tiv­ity, knowl­edge data­bases and so on.

So how can it help when it comes to cus­tomer ser­vice? Prop­erly syn­the­sised into the cus­tomer ser­vice process, AI has the po­ten­tial to pro­duce amaz­ing re­sults by feed­ing it with past cus­tomer ser­vice logs, be­hav­iour pat­terns, soft skills and more.

AN END TO THE HU­MAN TOUCH?

Far from it. De­vel­op­ers of AI cus­tomer ser­vice tech­nol­ogy say that its pur­pose is not to re­place hu­mans, but rather to make it eas­ier for them to serve cus­tomers. Many cus­tomer ser­vice glitches oc­cur be­cause in­for­ma­tion isn’t eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble by cus­tomer ser­vice reps. So if AI can help reps more quickly search for in­for­ma­tion and prompt re­sponses based on cus­tomer re­quests, it can cer­tainly go a long way to im­prov­ing the over­all ex­pe­ri­ence.

There are al­ready AI so­lu­tions that use in­for­ma­tion from his­tor­i­cal cus­tomer ser­vice chats and data, or from fre­quently asked ques­tions to pop­u­late knowl­edge bases. These can eas­ily be ac­cessed by cus­tomer ser­vice reps to find the right so­lu­tions quickly.

The idea is that AI can re­search the knowl­edge base faster and pro­vide prompts to reps to help them re­solve queries more ef­fi­ciently.

Other so­lu­tions are fo­cused on the hu­man el­e­ments of AI, for ex­am­ple the abil­ity to read the emo­tions of the cus­tomer, whether an­gry or frus­trated, with the ob­jec­tive of be­ing able to show em­pa­thy.

And then there are ap­pli­ca­tions aimed at re­spond­ing to cus­tomer com­plaints on so­cial me­dia. These use AI to seek out cus­tomers on so­cial me­dia plat­forms who ap­pear to be hav­ing dif­fi­culty with their en­quiries or help re­quests. Find­ing these cus­tomers and re­spond­ing to their queries can be a ma­jor boost to cus­tomer ser­vice.

There will al­ways be the

MANY CUS­TOMER SER­VICE GLITCHES OC­CUR BE­CAUSE IN­FOR­MA­TION ISN'T EAS­ILY AC­CES­SI­BLE BY CUS­TOMER SER­VICE REPS.

need for a hu­man touch, and AI isn’t ready to solve com­plex is­sues on its own; not just yet any­way. Nev­er­the­less, adding an el­e­ment of AI to your cus­tomer ser­vice plans can make a lot of sense and con­trib­ute to a more seam­less ap­proach to cus­tomer ser­vice.

And with any luck, those frus­trat­ing and mul­ti­ple phone calls will be a thing of the past. ■

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