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How AI is Transforming Customer Service Call Centres

With advances in AI grabbing headlines and promising to take over routine tasks, many businesses are hoping that their customer service needs will be substantially reduced. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at AI in customer service – its current capabilities, limitations, and how your customers feel about being helped by an AI call centre. 

AI Chatbots and Customer Service

The bright side of using AI chatbots is that customers get immediate responses around the clock. Provided their enquiries are fairly routine and simple, your clients can interact with the chatbot to get the answers they need. 

Some customers actually prefer self-help options, and they’re likely to class your chatbot as a technologically advanced way of getting quick responses. Meanwhile, your human operators have fewer customer service demands which means that you don’t need to deploy as large a chunk of your business’s resources to the provision of customer service. 

AI-Powered Customer Services: The Technical Limitations

It may amuse you to know that we researched the technical limitations of AI in customer service by asking AI itself. Don’t worry! We’re still with you, and this article is being written by a human being. So, why didn’t we just use the AI version as is? You’ll find some of the answers among the AI limitations we’re about to discuss. 

Lack of Nuanced Comprehension and Empathy

Have you ever asked a chatbot what seemed like a simple question only to draw a complete blank? Ever tried to contact a company in an emergency and found yourself talking to a bot? How did you feel? At its current level of development, AI is able to understand certain basics but if you’re feeling angry, frustrated, or impatient, it’s unable to empathise with you and respond appropriately. 

AI Struggles to Decode Complex Scenarios

Not all your customers will have routine questions. If you’ve ever worked in customer service yourself, you’ll know that curveball scenarios crop up more often than one might expect. You had to think on your feet. AI can’t – at least, not yet. However, it can breeze through routine queries easily enough. The technical limitations that make this so include a lack of advanced problem-solving ability, reasoning, and creative thinking. 

Linguistic and Contextual Limitations

Different people communicate in different ways. Your AI chatbot may struggle with the word choices your customers use, and they may have difficulty putting the query into the customer’s context. Unsatisfactory answers are the inevitable result. 

AI Can Be Biassed

AI “learns” from historical data and if the data set it learns from is biassed towards certain demographics, it may give inappropriate responses. Pedestrian avoidance systems used in automotive AI were less likely to notice people with darker complexions because their data sets weren’t fully representative. 

AI Isn’t Always Accurate But It’s Often Believable Even When Its Wrong

“To err is human. To do it properly, you need AI.” Once again, AI is great for simple queries for which there is only one possible answer. But when things get a bit more complex, AI isn’t yet up to the mark. However, that often doesn’t prevent it from coming up with an answer that’s wildly inaccurate because it thinks it understands a question, but doesn’t really. 

For example, there was the embarrassing matter of AI not understanding compound interest which left tech site CNET with egg on their faces after publishing AI’s erroneous information

It Has No Idea of How to Handle Conflict

To handle conflict, one needs emotional intelligence. AI doesn’t have it, and with this area being very hard to pin down, it seems unlikely that AI will be able to mediate conflict situations anytime soon. 

You’ll Have to Keep AI Updated

Businesses change over time. They find new, better ways to do things. If they forget to train their AI on their new methods, it will just keep regurgitating outdated answers. And, you’ll have to find ways to help it “unlearn” the outdated information at the same time or results will be unpredictable. 

Potential for Security Breaches

These days, customers are very aware of the potential for privacy breaches. Even if you’re pretty sure your AI is well-protected, data security is a moving target. What’s almost watertight today can be tomorrow’s loophole for hackers. 

AI-Powered Customer Services: The Customer Perspective

You want to create great customer experiences and you want your customers to feel that your business is providing great service. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Let’s suppose you contact a business and AI successfully resolves your query. Will you say: “This business had great customer service! I love their bot!” We’re going to guess that you won’t. You may not be unhappy, but you certainly won’t be particularly impressed either. 

Have you ever had that “I want to talk to a human!” moment? According to Forbes, 73 percent of customers will still hit the “talk to a human” option when dealing with an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) robocall. 

As for chatbots, just over half the respondents surveyed said they’d talk to a bot – if it saved them 10 minutes. On the other hand, 74 percent said that a high Customer Effort score would put them right off. With AI chatbot customer service facing so many technical limitations, it’s entirely possible that it will increase customer effort rather than reducing it. 

Finally, there’s the loss of personal touch. One can’t identify with, form a relationship with, or develop rapport with AI. Sometimes, things go wrong for customers, and they want human warmth and empathy. Sometimes, they’re feeling disaffected with your company and no AI can rebuild an endangered customer relationship. That takes people. 

Finally, if it’s really hard to talk to a human even though that’s what you want, you’re likely to feel like the business you’re supporting simply doesn’t care about its customers. AI can do basic customer care, but it can just as easily come across as being a “Customer? Don’t care!” service. 

Take Home: AI Can be Useful in Customer Service, But…

Recent developments in AI are truly impressive, but at this stage of its development, it would be unwise to think that it can completely replace human agents in customer care situations. 

You can use it as a way to handle certain basic enquiries, but it’s absolutely essential that you make it possible for customers who want in-person service to get in touch with human agents quickly and easily. 

Whatever you do, don’t try to pass a bot off as a person. Most people can spot the difference. The few that can’t may end up thinking that you employ some amazingly dense customer service operatives. That’s not to say AI isn’t smart, but it’s not yet “human” or able to emulate human thought and human interactions well. The bottom line? People still need people – at least, some of the time. 

A Scalable Solution to Human Interaction With RSVP

The benefits of AI in customer service are real, but the rise of AI in customer service provides a more compelling argument for using outsourced call centres than ever before. People want and expect immediate service nowadays. A well-programmed chatbot might fill that need – but when it doesn’t, having human operatives to pick up the pieces will be absolutely essential.  

When you outsource customer care to a call centre, you don’t need to give up on round-the-clock service just because you don’t have staff on duty around the clock. And you don’t need to have personnel with excess capacity taking up space and resources just in case call volumes suddenly spike. 

At RSVP, we offer a call centre service that’s as good or better than anything you can manage in-house. Our staff of highly-skilled agents are communications experts who are ready to provide your customers with the personal touch that takes your service from “good” to “great.” We don’t take the credit. Instead, your business gets a reputation for always being there for its customers. It’s what you want, and it’s what they want too. Talk to us about our call centre solutions today. 

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