Is ChatGPT the future of a contactless world?

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The quality of customer service has been declining due to staff shortages and post-pandemic issues. Recently, Frontier airlines announced the elimination of all its call centers, and moving forward they will be implementing an app-only customer service model. Could this be a glimpse of the future?

This bold move has caused many complaints about the model with which Frontier has chosen to replace phone calls; customers can now only contact chatbots for any help they might need. As the economy appears to be taking a turn for the worse, we are likely to see more of this: reducing the quality of customer service to ‘save a buck’ and taking humans out of the customer service loop. Yet advancements like ChatGPT, despite offering this glimpse into the future, have still proven that no matter how intelligent a chatbot may be, nothing beats the human experience.

More humanity in enterprise

The value of including a human voice in the customer service process cannot be underestimated. Research covered by Forbes this month has highlighted that while 78% of consumers have interacted with a chatbot in the past 12 months, 80% said using chatbots increased their frustration level. Yikes! It’s one of a number of telling stats that show how a majority of customers still need more than just the chatbot in the customer service journey.

AI chatbots have become vital customer service operations tools and maintain their significance in providing 24/7 on-demand support and answering a variety of initial queries and questions. But human connection and communication remains an essential part of the process — people want the ability to speak to someone who can relate to their experience.In times of uncertainty, companies and people require a form of certainty, reassurance and comfort. This comes from people who can explain things, something much harder to replicate in the automated world.

Yet costs are mounting for businesses, and technology is advancing. Is there a customer service future where chatbots can take over and actually provide this specialist human support?

Can chatbots and FAQs provide specialist advice?

A major appeal of chatbots for businesses is lower costs: the same Forbes article notes that businesses can achieve savings of over 30% with automation. There is also the argument that businesses are able to help customer satisfaction metrics by offering benefits like rapid response times and an appeal to younger demographics. Do these potential benefits outway the negative aspects of a chatbot and are chatbots ready to take over customer service across the board?

The answer is no. Even though AI has come a long way when it comes to text-based conversations, its commercial application is still some years out. Current generation chatbots have failed to deliver on their promise of AI. Furthermore, FAQ-based chatbots have been a total failure (though there are those who would argue with this position).

So, to become wholly reliant on chatbots alone appears a precarious task. As evidenced by the earlier data, chatbots have failed to help customers sufficiently enough to justify their use in customer service as sole workers regardless of the perceived cost savings.

But why settle for one or the other when you can combine AI, automation and human elements?

A future model, now: overcoming the need for chatbots alone

A hybrid approach — as has been accentuated in a post-pandemic landscape — is surely the most effective strategy. Companies need to create a system that can still reduce costs and use chatbots (if needed) and have the ability to leverage human expertise anywhere, anytime. The rise of GigCX (Gig-based Customer Service) is doing just this.

GigCX is a flexible, adaptable and scalable model consisting of individuals who get paid for the ‘gigs’ they work. These individuals are GigCX experts who know the brand inside out and are often customers themselves. By adopting a GigCX model, companies are able to build up a crowd of these flexible experts and can then access this talent pool as needed.

This crowd can fluctuate in line with the needs of today’s labor force. The AI-powered GigCX platform is also able to distribute tasks to the best possible person at the optimum time. GigCX experts can be leveraged instead of chatbots and offer unparalleled support whenever and wherever it’s needed. This can create both significant cost savings and rocket customer service satisfaction levels.

Will ChatGPT be good enough that human interaction won’t be needed anymore?

The answer is a resounding no! In this article, Mathew Patterson has this to say about ChatGPT:

If you want to give your customers accurate, consistently good service experiences, then you can’t have ChatGPT answer them directly without human intervention. Not yet, at least, and maybe never. You can stop reading now; check back in a couple of years.

ChatGPT appears to have great potential related to communication with humans, and, by definition, it will only ever be as good as the information that is available to it. If a customer service issue has fallen outside of the normal types of problems that occur – and so many of them do – then it will require a person both for the remedy and for the reassurance that people can provide.

In some sense, if ChatGPT is as good as it looks at first glance. It will fulfill the promise of the last 5 years related to AI, making chatbots reliable for FAQ questions and other inquiries where the problem and the solution is well known and well documented (although there are some near term challenges with this, as Mathew points out in his article). If the promise of AI is delivered on for Chat it is clearly good news for us all and hopefully foretells a future when AI-based chat solutions help rather than hinder problem resolution.

We had the opportunity to ask ChatGPT what it thought about this issue (it doesn’t really think):

How will ChatGPT change how brands deal with customer service and the overall customer experience?

ChatGPT can be integrated into a brand’s customer service system to assist with handling customer inquiries and providing quick and accurate responses. This can improve the overall customer experience by reducing wait times and ensuring that customers have access to accurate information. Additionally, ChatGPT can be used to personalize interactions with customers and improve the efficiency of the customer service process. However, it is important to note that ChatGPT does not replace human customer service agents, but it can augment their capabilities and improve the customer experience.

We agree, but the answer may not be correct. There is a warning from OPEN AI: ChatGPT cannot be relied on for consistently accurate answers to specific questions.

The response alone – or the response with the warning – makes a hybrid strategy that encompasses people and technology together, a strategy that feels necessary as we continue to experiment with AI in customer service.

The best of both worlds

Time will tell if Frontier airlines’ decision will pay off for the company. But the current economic landscape, consumer satisfaction with chatbots and new flexible models make this approach appear both risky and unnecessary for most businesses.

GigCX offers a safe yet flexible and innovative route. It also provides a more realistic route, taking into account the substantial amount of investment that has gone into chatbots, where its progress currently sits, and where this innovation needs to go. It’s an efficient and futuristic model that optimizes resources and leverages human relevance. Automation is still able to answer initial straightforward enquiries, and the option is there if customers need a human expert.

It is the best of both worlds and a win for customers who need both automated answers and human support at the right moments. Why settle for one when you can have both?

To learn more about our ChatGPT strategy, check out our blog on the topic.

Roger Beadle
Roger Beadle is a UK-based entrepreneur and business leader who is reinventing how customer service is delivered via the gig economy. After establishing several businesses in the contact centre industry, Roger co-founded Limitless with Megan Neale in 2016. Limitless is a gig-economy platform that addresses some of the biggest challenges faced by the contact centre industry: low pay, high attrition and access to new talent.

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