Why AI is Taking Over Customer Service

After Google unveiled its new Google Assistant earlier this summer, consumers were given a demonstration of how far artificial intelligence in the services sector has come. The complexity and human-like conversation was definitely impressive, and most users will probably not question whether the voice on the other end of the line was in fact human, or a computer program.

AI has been an integral part of customer service for many years, with over 60{f9e613f517110994348d69a5797a353d87ee03cef25d7bb6efd85f4964c1c644} of customer service conversations being conducted by chatbots in 2018, and that percentage is expected to rise to a whopping 85{f9e613f517110994348d69a5797a353d87ee03cef25d7bb6efd85f4964c1c644} of all conversations by 2020.

There are several obvious reasons why AI is replacing live sales and customer service representatives over time. First and foremost, it’s very cost-efficient for brands and corporations to transfer mundane, simple customer questions on to a chatbot. This would free up the brand’s live sales representatives to focus on more complex customer complaints, and the larger strategy to handling problems that may arise early on. Second, access to big data and the rapid and continual advance of technology, has allowed for easier development of comprehensive conversational programs that are able to handle a majority of day-to-day customer service issues, and do so in an increasingly human-like way.


At first glance, it might seem that replacing human operators, with computer programs, is a step down in customer experience. However, with the continuous evolution of the AI utilized, the benefits of employing chatbots becomes evident. Customers today expect support and help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Chatbots can make that a reality, where customers can get in touch any time of the day, and get help resolving an issue or more information about the product or service they wish to buy or get support for.

Another less obvious benefit, is the ability to tailor-make and customize the chatbot to each individual customer. While a human operator might need some time to better understand a customer and his or her needs, a chatbot with powerful AI can tap into the data on each user, and anticipate what the customer might need help with, or desire to order. So, for example, if a user has checked insurance policies on several occasions before, the chatbot can prepare its answers based on what the customer probably needs assistance with. This saves time for both the customer, as well as the brand, and ensures a more personalized response from the chatbot that will more likely leave the customer satisfied with the interaction.

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Of course, despite AI’s massive leaps recently, it still cannot replace a human yet. That’s why a vital part of developing a successful chatbot, is being able to detect when a real human representative needs to take over a conversation. An unhappy client for example, might not be satisfied with a bot’s possible reactions, and will need a human operator than can better empathize and pick up on subtle inflections in tone that indicate a customer’s sentiments, and the best way to handle them.

Prospects of artificial intelligence replacing jobs usually held by human employees, begs the question of what will happen when AI is better, cheaper and more efficient at doing what many people do today. The answer is a complex one, and one societies have asked themselves every time technology has made a monumental leap. Before street lights were electric, someone’s job was to light all the lanterns on city streets every night. Today, those jobs have disappeared, yet unemployment didn’t necessarily go up.

The reality is, mundane, repetitive tasks that do not require critical thinking and “outside-the-box” ideas, can be delegated to AI. AI will probably also do it more efficiently, being able to work nonstop and unperturbed with fatigue or other consequences of being a complex human being. Humans are not out of the equation though, but their role will simply evolve. If chatbots can answer the phones, take appointments and answer common questions, employees can focus on solving issues AI cannot, such as building rapport, picking up on subtle queues and focusing on developing the grand strategy of a brand or company.

Some sectors are definitely more ready to delegate positions to chatbots. Insurance, real estate, finance, law and even governmental functions such as paying fines and keeping track of judiciary matters, are easily delegated to a chatbot. That’s because the answers are fairly standard, the offers are the same, the price list is readily available and troubleshoot questions are fairly similar for most users. It’s less structured industries that might need to get more creative with chatbots, such as creative and artistic industries, where a pre-packaged, ready answer is hard to always come by.

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Bottom line is, next time you call a company, it’s very likely you are talking to a chatbot. This phenomenon will be on the rise in the coming years, with powerful tools to create such programs readily available for users to adapt and teach to properly function in their industry. It will be interesting to see how the Arab World adapts to this, with many different and location-specific dialects and vernacular making it a tougher job for an AI to hold a human-like conversation.

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