Can Customer Service be Fully Automated?

Artificial intelligence just needs time to learn

By BARBARA SCHMIDT

Remember when you had to wait to call into any company’s customer service department during their working hours? “Hold please,” the receptionist might say. Then you’d be transferred to another department or you might be cut off. Hopefully you were transferred to the right department where you’d leave a message. Then you’d wait for a follow-up call.

Those days were replaced by Twitter messaging. We contacted companies via the Twitter app on our phone to get a better response rate. I knew that if I posted a message on Twitter, I would get a faster reply. The Twitter messaging stream was monitored more frequently than someone’s voicemail at the corporate office.

Then I started working with my new payroll company and everything was done by live chat. However, sometimes when I tried the live chat no one came to the screen. It was like trying to get out of the nested messaging system with a credit card company. “If you would like your balance information, please press 1,” the woman said over and over again.

If I wanted my balance information, I’d check the website before I’d call in, but at least there was some sort of interaction. And that is exactly how all the chatbot and artificial intelligence solutions came to fruition. Customers want interaction – they want an immediate response.

Digital agencies have created “bots”, short for automated robots, that will begin the customer interaction on the company’s website any time of day or night. This interaction may be scripted to always ask the same questions or it may be part of an Artificial Intelligence program that will learn about conversations and issues the company may have to better solve them.

Bridge the Gap

This chatbot bridging technology helps tee up customer service interactions for success in a number of ways: 1. A chatbot can answer anytime, anywhere. Now your company is time zone free and consumers love timely interaction. 2. Clearer communication is the key to consumer happiness and a chatbot can get the issue description and have it handed over to the right person at the company quickly. 3. Consumers can yell at a chatbot and the chatbot can disarm them. Seriously, a chatbot can have empathy, if you program it that way. 4. And while you are at it, please design your chatbot to be courteous and friendly. That will help resolve and inspire great customer service results.

Does this Technology Work?

Yes, as a matter of fact, it does. It works so well that we are seeing this type of technology employed for estimating, selling, and designing. It’s like a cue for better service no matter what the outcome.

Do I wonder if I’ll ever get an answer from a chatbot? Yes. So here’s the thing – you can bridge the gap, but you can’t forget about the communication gap existing in the first place. Meaning that some customer issues will need a human with a lot of company or product knowledge no matter what.

Learning Opportunities

Think of chatbots as your super nice, really polite receptionist. He or she will bring the issue to your team in an orderly and timely manner. Perhaps the chatbot can even solve the problem. How can that be? Because of artificial intelligence. If your chatbot is programmed to learn about how to solve problems, it will.

This is the new frontier of customer service. If customer service can be automated then it can greatly reduce product and service costs. More consumers will receive the interaction they crave in a timely manner and that will create consumer satisfaction. Follow up will, in theory, happen faster because the initial interaction was clearly recorded and sent to the right person.

Problem Solving

Every single company goes through issues of follow up. How fast you follow up on customer interactions is perceived as customer excellence, so the longer you take, the more customer dissatisfaction grows.

If the same customer service issue keeps coming up over and over again it will be crystal clear to your chatbot and to management that there is a pattern. This helps management address overarching issues for more positive outcomes.

Technically, your chatbot can learn to have a strong product or service knowledge over time. We truly are on the edge of artificial intelligence touching our lives every day. Ask yourself if you’ve heard this phrase when you’ve been on the phone with the credit card company, “Just to make sure I understand you, you said….” That’s a chatbot learning about your issue in your specific description so that it can get you to the right person.

Barbara Schmidt is a nationally published Interior Designer and Marketing Expert known for her authentic storytelling about spaces, places, and trends. To learn more, visit www.studiobstyle.com.

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