The media may have us believe that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is on the brink of replacing entire job roles, such as customer service. However, this is far from the truth. Automation is about freeing up humans to do different, more valuable tasks. It's understandable that customer service professionals are concerned about the potential of AI taking over their roles.
The answer is no, not yet. Intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) are not a substitute for human relationships or emotional communication, which are essential in the customer service industry. AI and human agents can work together to do more than just booking flights or serving customers. Every day, new software is being developed to automate processes that used to be manual. With the latest tools, AI is already being integrated into processes across all sectors. The AI revolution was started by a generation of innovators who found creative ways to solve modern problems.
The question now is not how far we can take AI, but how we can use our imaginations to keep reinventing the problem-solving process. With improved automation, customer service agents feel more fulfilled in their roles as customer satisfaction increases. The aim of this new technology is for IVAs and customer service agents to collaborate in order to meet the three pillars of customer service: efficiency, accuracy and empathy. After several high-profile customer service blunders in the airline industry, it's clear that how you treat your customers can make or break your company's reputation. AI will largely handle mundane tasks, while agents can help solve complex problems, build relationships with customers, and engage in proactive outreach.
When it comes to customer service incidents, companies must still focus on using technology to reduce customer effort. For example, AI could contact affected customers to inform them about a cancellation and even suggest alternative flight options. It's not just customer service professionals who are expecting a world where AI is integrated into their field. With new technological advancements such as cognitive computing, machine learning and virtual reality, merging human interaction with AI is becoming the solution for managing customer needs. AI can detect if an incoming call, chat or email from one of those customers is likely related to the cancellation and immediately escalate it to a human agent who could suggest new travel options. Chatbots are just one way of implementing AI as a customer service tool, and even within the world of chatbots there are many variations.
When customers need creativity and empathy, AI falls short and the expertise of human agents is needed to maintain customer satisfaction. The reality is likely to be much less dramatic, but AI can be used in many ways in customer service. In conclusion, it's clear that AI won't be replacing entire job roles such as customer service anytime soon. However, with improved automation and collaboration between IVAs and human agents, companies can ensure that customers receive efficient, accurate and empathetic service.