It’s making life easier for consumers, companies, and human agents
Customer service is where companies speak directly with consumers, and it’s often at an inflection point where the consumer has a problem and might be upset. It’s a sensitive situation. The right response can win customer loyalty, and the wrong one can drive them straight to a competitor. It’s the kind of task you want your friendliest faces on, so it’s interesting that so many leading companies are using AI in customer service. What’s even more interesting is that it seems to be working out well for them.
AI Up Front
In its first quarter report, The Coca-Cola Company laid claim to being “the first company to collaborate with OpenAI and Bain & Company to harness the power of ChatGPT and DALL-E to enhance marketing capabilities and business operations and to build capabilities through cutting-edge artificial intelligence. Its first use of generative AI was the “Create Real Magic” platform, where fans of the brand could design original art using the Coca-Cola archives. More interesting from an operations standpoint was the reveal that Coca-Cola “is also exploring ways to leverage AI to improve customer service and ordering as well as point-of-sale material creation in collaboration with its bottling partners.”
Amazon, with its stated goal of being “Earth’s most customer-centric company” has been using AI to analyze customer data for predicting future demand. By doing this, the ecommerce giant can get inventory in the right places so when the expected orders do come in, products are shipped locally rather than across the country. When it comes to AI in customer service, Amazon Alexa has been providing customers with easy voice command ordering for years, and in 2020 the company began testing neural network-based systems to handle customer service requests and assist human agents in doing so.
“Typically, these agents are governed by rules, rather like flow charts that specify responses to particular customer inputs. If the automated agent can’t handle a request, it refers the request to a human customer service representative,” Amazon applied science manager Jared Kramer wrote in a blog post. “On amazon.com, we’ve started phasing in automated agents that use neural networks rather than rules. These agents can handle a broader range of interactions with better results, allowing our customer service representatives to focus on tasks that depend more on human judgment.”
Making the People Better
AI in customer service can handle some simpler tasks that free up human representatives to do the more complex ones, as Beerud Sheth, co-founder and CEO of conversational messaging platform Gupshup told BOSS.
“It literally cuts across the entire customer life cycle,” he said. “So many businesses start with one or two use cases, but then they expand to many others.”
Perhaps one of the best uses of AI in customer service is in improving the service humans are able to provide. Ringover’s conversational intelligence platform Empower can analyze customer service calls in real time and identify patterns and key words in customer queries and representative responses. If there are particular complaints that come up over and over again, the software can bring that to a company’s attention and recommend responses.
Such tech has been adopted by leading field service software to help their field service teams access all the relevant information on-the-go and deliver a better customer experience.
“Today, no manager has the time to properly listen to or navigate through all of their agents’ conversations,” Ringover CTO and co-founder Ludovic Rateau said in a statement. “But recorded conversations are black boxes, full of valuable information for a company wanting to improve its customer experience. Through Empower, our customers can fully and easily exploit this information, extracted by AI, to help with both their customer relations and business growth.”
Early reports, such as a study put out by the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI and published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, indicate that generative AI in customer service is a benefit to consumers and human representatives. The study showed generative AI boosted the productivity of customer services representatives at an unnamed Fortune 500 software firm by 14%. Using a custom-built GPT tool, the human agents helped more customers per hour than on their own. They needed to pass people off to supervisors less often, and customer sentiment was higher. The human agents using AI also stayed with the company longer.
“There was less churn once they used this tool because it seemed workers were happier and enjoyed the job more,” study co-author Erik Brynjolfsson told CBS MoneyWatch. “We wondered if it would push them harder, but it seems to be something workers liked. Customers were happier, and I’m guessing as a call center operator, it’s more enjoyable to interact with happy customers.”
It certainly is, which is why more companies would be well-served using AI in customer service. It makes all the humans happy.