Through Artificial Intelligence (AI), a computer can now process language, respond to questions and “learn,” as it gathers more data from each interaction. Its implications for omnichannel customer service strategies are significant, as they can deliver personalized and informative assistance through voice, chat, and text. Customer relationship management is set to evolve significantly as it incorporates the benefits of AI and the insights that Big Data can provide about customer behavior.
Customer service will benefit from AI more than other industries, perhaps, because many inquiries and interactions in this realm are repetitive, and provide great opportunities for “deep learning”: the process through which a computer organizes and derives patterns and structure from unstructured data.
Taking advantage of these capabilities through Robotic Process Automation (RPA), automated agents can manage much of the routine troubleshooting, as the system stores answers to the most commonly asked questions. The more queries it handles, the more information that can be used to both answer and anticipate questions it generates. These sorts of automated agents cannot replace live agents, as the human touch is a necessary complement to automation, but undoubtedly increases efficiency and customer satisfaction.
Another attractive factor about AI is that it can be deployed seamlessly across all channels used for customer service. It can ask for more information, understand misspellings, and even make suggestions related to the topic at hand. Many of the world’s largest brands are already finding innovative ways to make use of the technology: one of the largest OTAs is using chat bots (or automated chat agents) on Facebook Messenger to allow users to cancel or adjust hotel bookings, as well as look up flights.
In another example, a leading global airline that has to respond to 15,000 social media conversations in a dozen languages is using a machine learning system that has answers to over 60,000 customer questions and counting. Agents can edit the answers generated by the bots to personalize or correct them as needed, and while only 10 percent of conversations are sent unaltered at this point, that number will go up as the system learns.
Examples like those will become more common as AI is gradually integrated into our technology and customer service practices. If the most innovative companies’ strategies are any indication, 2017 will be the year that artificial intelligence becomes a part of our daily lives—hopefully enhancing them in the process.