If you’re familiar with Siri, Amazon’s Echo, or any similar type of software, then you’ll recognise how technology has revolutionised today’s society, forming an essential part of human progress. The ability of machines to perform human-like tasks is the epitome of this technological development and artificial intelligence is increasingly shaping not only our personal, but professional activities. With ever-advancing technology, there is no doubt that artificial intelligence will transform the way businesses engage and interact with consumers in the future. Machines are already changing the way customer service is provided, leading to the common concern that they will eventually replace human work. However, we cannot ignore the unique value of human touch which can accommodate individual needs; ensuring that human-to-human communication will remain fundamental.
- Machines can answer questions which involve monotonous, simple and repetitive tasks for support professionals. This allows the human workforce to handle more complex customer issues that tend to be more complex customer centric activities. This offers a more efficient use of critical thinking power, meaning employees will have a bigger impact on the company, as well as a greater level of professional fulfilment.
- By focusing on complex situations where customers need more attention, machines enable employees to prioritise tasks which are more urgent and require more skill than easy to solve support requests. This means that customers get the service they need the moment they need it.
- Machines save precious time for customer service, preventing employees from being routinely interrupted from high level issues by providing the same responses to customers.
- Machines can reduce queue times by handling unlimited amount of chats at the same time. This is beneficial for companies with a large customer traffic flow, ultimately leading to improved productivity, profitability and business results.
- Machines can quickly find patterns in support requests and collect this ongoing trend data which enterprises can use to improve customer experience.
- Human agents can create emotional connections with customers that machines cannot. Humans excel at empathising with frustrated and upset customers. Even the most advanced and sophisticated machines cannot appeal to emotions or read between the lines.
- Humans offer a customer service which is personal, adaptable and custom tailored to individuals and situations. A human understands when to adjust and the subtleties that are required which impersonal and mechanized machines do not. This enables them to build relationships of trust between the company and customer and increase loyalty.
- Many consumers still prefer dealing with human beings for customer service, as they value a human approach which machines cannot provide. Machines do not have the ability to understand context, ignore spelling mistakes and think outside the box.
- Human-to-human interaction is of a higher quality than a machine-to-human one, meaning the quality of customer service is also higher. Machines are only as smart as the collection of existing knowledge which allows them to answer simple and very specific questions. This can lead to dissatisfaction if the machine fails to help a customer, as well as unrealistic expectations when customers believe they are communicating with a human.
Although technology will continue to march forward and artificial intelligence will continue to play a larger role in customer service, humans are still vital. While machines can perform tasks efficiently, we still prefer to interact with humans in several situations, especially when things have gone wrong. Artificial intelligence is making driverless cars or waiter-less restaurants a growing reality, yet this could negatively affect many of our experiences which are enriched by interaction. This suggests that humans should remain integral to customer service companies, with machines used to assist them with serving customers faster and more efficiently. The future of customer service therefore envisages artificial intelligence and humans in cooperation rather than competition with each other.
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