The Human Touch: Why Artificial Intelligence Can’t Replace the Customer Service Agent

By | June 17, 2016

Artificial intelligence isn’t something new as many people think – it has been developing for the last 20 years. But only now the time has come for it to become something more than just a beta version of what we expected it to be – and now it is accessible for millions of people all over the world. 

AI and its impact on customer service is a very interesting topic, as there is no doubt that the use of AI tools will become commonplace in the next few years. For instance, Interactive Voice Response systems are a great tool to be integrated with AI technology. But discussions go even further – some say AI is going to replace even human agents, let alone self-service automated solutions. 

Even though customer service automation is the most recent trend in the industry, there is general opinion that there is no way automated interactions will ever replace human interactions. Some call centers have already adopted some self-service solutions, yet there are no businesses that are going to rely on AI only as everybody understands it is not the best option to go for. We already know that people are preferring human communication over automated support – look at IVR systems, again – so there is almost no chance for customer service to go fully automated. 

Even though some businessmen still look for cost-cutting solutions, and AI seems to be one of such as it can sweep out human agents, maintaining an AI solution requires much more costly personnel to be handled. No data scientist costs as even 3 agents, and yet, it doesn’t work when it comes to reality. 

Nonetheless, more and more companies are changing their views on the importance of customer service and customer experience. There are a few factors that made this change real:

• Brand Loyalty: Customer loyalty is impossible without first-class service. Such companies as Nordstorm with its free delivery, 24/7 customer service and unlimited refund policy are much more likley to achive high customer retention rates than those who create problems for their customers. 

• Social Media: social media have become the first-place platforms for managing brand reputation, as even a single negative review can become viral and destroy company’s reputation in a few hours -which also requires company to allocate resources to manage these processes, so providing customer service of good quality is just easier than dealing with issues afterward. 

• Cost: the best way to reduce customer turnover costs is to reduce customer turnover, isn’t it? Well, that’s not possible without providing consistent and seamless customer experience. 

Even though the chance for AI to fully replace human agents is around 0%, there are still many ways for implementation of AI tools in customer service solutions – providing more customer-oriented self-service options, gathering and analyzing data, and so on. While stakeholders will argue about AI implementation in CX industry, we have to agree at one obvious statement – customer service is the main priority for companies that are going to build trustful and loyal relationships with customers.