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The Future of Customer Service and AI 

Jakub Slámka | Aug 22, 2017 953 views No Comments

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The Future of AI and Customer Service
Last month we covered the current state of AI in customer service and now we’ll take a speculative look into the customer service future to see what customer support should prepare for. We gathered what thoughts of experts in AI customer service. Turns out, the AI customer service future is probably not as exciting and scary as you might think.

Will I lose my job to AI?
This is the big question. But most experts think customer service reps won‘t be replaced by AI robots anytime soon. That’s because of customer service answers are too complex for AI.

Lukas Rathman explains this really well in his post ‘’Machine Learning for the rest of us’’:
AI comes in 3 varieties:
1. Narrow Intelligence: An AI that can do only 1 thing
2. Artificial General Intelligence: An AI that is intelligent across the board
3. Artificial Superintelligence: An AI much smarter than any human

Right now, most AI is at the Narrow Intelligence level. So, the answer for the big question is: we are not there yet and won’t be for many years.

Anyways, back to your job. As McKinsey & Company explains below, AI can do certain tasks. These are simple Tier 1 tasks. Repetitive, labor intensive tasks that humans don’t want to do anyway. The tasks AI can’t do are ones that take more creativity or consideration to do.

Will a Robot Take my Job?

The mainstream adoption of AI will mean that some jobs change. Fewer staff will be needed to respond to Tier 1 questions. Simple questions and requests will be handled instantly which frees frontline staff for tasks requiring more empathy or creativity.

Customer-focused companies will reinvest these additional people resources into creating an even better customer experience. AI for customer service means reassigning agents to proactive strategies rather than dealing with repetitive issues.

What should we look forward to?
We gathered opinion of 3 founders of AI tech companies to see what’s next. Here’s what they predict we’ll see in the next 3-5 years.

‘’I see the future of AI in customer support changing from the very opaque systems we have right now to AI systems that are controllable and transparent. The system will tell you why it’s doing what it’s doing.’’ – Chris Martinez, Idiomatic

Currently, most AI is a black box system. We know what the input and output is but we don’t know why. Chris believes that we’ll have more control over AI in the future. This means it’ll be more customizable, transparent and helpful.

‘’In the next few years, customer service leaders will look at ways to integrate practical AI in their operations, as they see a rise in text-based volumes and growing expectations to reply instantly. If paired together, human and machine intelligence will work together to bring the best customer experience within 5 years.’’ – Mikhail Naumov, DigitalGenius

The future of AI depends on creating a working relationship between humans and machines. Now, many of our workflows are human optimized but working with AI means integrating the machines into them. The most successful teams will be the most integrated.

‘’The field of AI has traditionally been focused on computational intelligence, not on social or emotional intelligence. Yet being deficient in emotional intelligence (EQ) can be a great disadvantage in society. 3-5 year from now, our devices will be emotion-aware.’’- Rana el Kaliouby, Affectiva, in Forbes May 2017

AI is getting much smarter at identifying human emotions. However, none of the experts suggested that AI is heading towards Hollywood levels in the next 5 years. All we have to look forward to is a bit more flexibility and insight into what our customer are thinking.

How do I win the AI in customer support game?
To be successful in the AI assisted customer service future, there’s 3 things you should focus on:
Change Management – change is the only constant in business and those who can adapt, will win.
Process Management – AI needs updating processes to make the customer experience better
Always be Learning – it’s easy to say ‘’oh, I don’t understand that’’ and move along. Instead, assume you can learn anything! The more you know, the more successful you’ll be.

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