Generative AI in Customer Service: 4 Ways AI Will Reshape Customer Experience

    manoj matai
    Manoj Matai
    Generative AI in customer Support:

    Today, as technology continues to advance at a high pace, it seems like we’re on the brink of living in a world surrounded by AI-only companions. From chatbots that cheerfully greet us on websites to virtual assistants who seem to know us really well, it’s hard to deny that artificial intelligence has firmly planted its flag in our daily lives. But amidst all the futuristic buzz, one burning question lingers: What will happen to good old-fashioned customer service jobs in this brave new world of generative AI? As generative AI makes its way into the realm of customer service, the line between human and machine assistance blurs, giving rise to a quirky world where our digital companions might just become our most trusted confidants.

    What is Generative AI?

    Generative AI refers to a branch of artificial intelligence that uses algorithms and machine learning techniques to generate new content, such as text, images, or audio. Generative AI produces new content, chat responses, designs, synthetic data or deepfakes. Whereas, traditional AI, on the other hand, has focused on detecting patterns, making decisions, and classifying data.

    Introduction to generative AI in customer Support

    In customer support, generative AI is used to process large volumes of customer inquiries and generate responses automatically. This information enables AI systems to gain insights into the unique requirements and preferences of individual customers, allowing for tailored experiences that cater to their specific needs. By leveraging this data-driven approach, businesses can enhance customer satisfaction by delivering relevant and personalized interactions immediately that resonate with each customer on a deeper level.

    investment in generative AI by companies

    Generative AI’s ability to process customer inquiries quickly and accurately has made it a game-changer in the customer service industry. Whether in sales, marketing, or customer service, AI has revamped business processes. According to a recent Gartner report, 55% of established companies have started making investments in gen-AI or have prioritized it for their immediate plan of action. With the advent of generative AI, companies can handle a high volume of customer inquiries without having to hire additional staff. However, this has raised concerns about its impact on employment opportunities in the customer service industry.

    As companies embrace AI in customer service, it is essential to prioritize a holistic approach that combines the power of AI technologies with the human touch. This means empowering customer support and service (CSS) agents with AI tools that augment their abilities, allowing them to focus on more complex and value-added tasks while AI handles routine inquiries. By striking this balance, businesses can unlock the full potential of AI while retaining the irreplaceable human connection that customers crave, ensuring a harmonious blend of technology and human-centric customer experience (CX).

    Challenges of using AI in customer support

    AI-powered systems, such as chatbots and virtual assistants, have transformed the CX landscape and how we, as customers, expect businesses to respond, offering instant support, 24/7 availability, and streamlined processes. However, while AI brings significant benefits, it also presents unique challenges in the realm of quality customer service.

    1. Difficulty in Localizing a Conversation

    One of the challenges of using AI in customer support is the difficulty in localizing conversations. AI systems often struggle to understand regional accents, dialects, or slang, leading to misinterpretation of customer queries. Localization challenges can result in inaccurate responses, frustration for customers, and potential breakdowns in communication.

    Let’s consider an example where you have a product available for sale in different regions of India. Catering to diverse customers requires more than just language translation. Translating the text alone is not sufficient; the content needs to be localized, taking into account regional dialects, cultural nuances, and specific preferences. India’s rich diversity brings unique customs, festivals, and purchasing behaviors in each state. Therefore, when leveraging AI to serve customers with such language and localization diversity, it’s important to go beyond language translation and ensure that the entire customer experience is tailored to the specific regions, languages, and cultural contexts of the diverse Indian audience.

    Overcoming this challenge requires robust language models and continuous training to improve AI’s ability to understand diverse linguistic nuances. Businesses can invest in AI models that are trained on diverse linguistic variations and continuously update their training data to improve accuracy. Additionally, employing human agents who possess cultural and linguistic knowledge can help bridge the communication gap, ensuring a localized and personalized CX.

     

    2. Lack of emotion and empathy

    While AI-powered systems excel at providing quick and efficient responses, they often lack the ability to convey genuine emotion and empathy. Understanding and empathizing with customers’ emotions is a critical aspect of quality customer service. AI systems may struggle to provide the level of human connection and emotional support that customers may require, particularly during complex or sensitive interactions. For example, if a customer wants to know the total billing amount, AI can answer. If they want to know the last billing date, AI can answer. But when it comes to “Why was I overcharged?”, real human support needs to take the conversation forward till the customer is satisfied with the billing amount.

    Businesses must strike a balance between AI automation and human intervention to ensure empathetic customer experiences. To address this challenge, businesses can implement a hybrid approach that combines AI automation with human intervention. Human customer support agents can handle sensitive conversations, empathize with customers, and provide the emotional support needed during challenging situations, while AI automates the transactional tasks.

    3. High maintenance cost for AI programs

    Implementing and maintaining AI programs can be a costly endeavor for businesses. Developing sophisticated AI algorithms, training data sets, and integrating AI systems into existing customer support infrastructure requires significant investment. Furthermore, ongoing optimization, monitoring, and updates are necessary to ensure the AI systems remain accurate, reliable, and up to date. Businesses must carefully consider the financial implications and long-term sustainability of AI initiatives in CSS.

    To mitigate costs, businesses should carefully evaluate their AI requirements and prioritize areas where automation can provide the most value. Leveraging cloud-based AI solutions can also help reduce infrastructure and maintenance expenses. Furthermore, optimizing AI programs through continuous training and monitoring can enhance their accuracy and efficiency, ensuring a worthwhile return on investment.

     

    The Potential Impact of Gen-AI on Customer Experience

    1. Skill Enhancement

    The rise of generative AI in customer support has sparked concerns about potential job displacement in various industries. As AI algorithms become more advanced, certain roles traditionally held by human agents, such as standard customer inquiries including product information, order tracking and more, may become automated. However, this shift also presents an opportunity for job enhancement, as human agents can now focus on complex problem-solving, emotional support, and building stronger customer relationships which requires more humanized and personalized capabilities.

    2. Redefining Customer Support & Service (CSS) Roles

    As we always say, “AI is here to complement human capabilities and not to compete with humans.” Generative AI is reshaping the role of customer support agents, emphasizing the need for strong interpersonal and problem-solving skills. Rather than being replaced, the agents are becoming strategic partners who collaborate with AI systems to provide quality customer service. The combination of human empathy and AI’s efficiency can create a powerful synergy in customer support.

    For example, a CSS agent can use AI-powered data analytics to gain insights into a customer’s preferences and previous interactions, allowing them to provide tailored recommendations and resolve issues more effectively. This collaboration between human agents and AI technology elevates the CX, showcasing the power of combining human empathy with AI’s efficiency.

    3. Customer Support Outsourcing

    Outsourcing has long been a popular strategy for businesses seeking cost-effective solutions. Gen-AI introduces new possibilities for outsourcing by leveraging AI-powered systems to handle routine tasks and customer inquiries. However, businesses must carefully evaluate the trade-offs between automation and the importance of human touch in customer interactions, as customer support outsourcing solely to AI may compromise personalized and empathetic experiences.

    4. Training and Upskilling Opportunities

    Training and upskilling opportunities play a crucial role in enhancing the CX and generate a number of opportunities for people working as CSS professionals. However, to take advantage of these opportunities, people need to have/develop the skills and knowledge required to work alongside generative AI systems. Businesses need to invest in training and upskilling programs that provide workers with the skills needed to work with generative AI systems.

    This enables customer service agents to leverage the capabilities of generative AI, resulting in improved efficiency, personalized interactions, and enhanced problem-solving abilities, ultimately leading to a more satisfying CX. Training programs should focus on developing skills such as data analysis, machine learning, and AI development. Furthermore, businesses need to provide workers with opportunities to gain hands-on experience working with gen-AI systems.

    Striking the balance between transformative tech and human touch

    As generative AI continues to revolutionize the industry, there is a growing concern about the potential loss of human interaction and personalized experiences. However, the key lies in leveraging AI as a tool to enhance human capabilities rather than replacing them.

    Though gen-AI has the power to streamline processes, automate repetitive tasks, and provide instant support to customers. However, relying solely on AI can lead to a lack of empathy, emotional understanding, and the ability to handle complex or unique situations.

    For instance, our team at JindalX understands the importance of continuously improving our processes to serve our clients better. We have helped clients from over 9 industries across the globe, including real-money gaming, and understand how each differs in their delivery. With our cutting-edge technology, gamification-based (including gen-AI) training modules, and personalized approach, we have helped them in delivering exceptional customer experience, resulting in increased engagement and customer satisfaction.
    Read more how outsourcing customer experience helps RMG achieve better results and role gamification plays in enhancing customer loyalty and retention

    transformative tech and human touch

    The human touch remains invaluable in customer support as they possess emotional intelligence, and problem-solving skills. Research conducted by PwC found that 59% of customers feel that having knowledgeable and helpful CSS representatives is crucial for a positive CX. Human agents possess critical thinking abilities and the expertise to handle complex issues effectively. They can provide genuine connections, actively listen to customer concerns, and offer creative solutions beyond scripted/standard responses. Human agents excel in situations that require critical thinking, negotiation, and building long-term relationships.

    AI can handle routine inquiries, gather customer data, and provide initial assistance, while human agents can step in when complexity arises or when customers seek human connection. This hybrid approach combines the efficiency of AI with the warmth and personalization of human interaction.

    Moreover, investing in training programs for customer support agents is essential. They should be equipped with the necessary skills to work alongside AI systems effectively. Training can focus on enhancing emotional intelligence, problem-solving abilities, and adapting to AI-driven tools and technologies.

    Conclusion

    Generative AI has clearly created a strong impression on the world in the past few months with the release of ever-growing AI-powered tools like ChatGPT, MidJourney, Google’s Bard and more. It is revolutionizing the customer support landscape, introducing efficiency, personalization, and scalability. While concerns about job displacement persist, it’s crucial to recognize that generative AI has the potential to enhance the role of human agents and redefine CSS roles as a collaborative effort between humans and machines. Businesses must navigate this transformative phase thoughtfully, weighing the benefits of automation against the value of human interaction. By striking the right balance, generative AI can unlock new realms of customer service excellence while creating opportunities for skill enhancement and job creation in a digitally enhanced world.

    Reference:

    https://www.gartner.com/en/documents/3645396
    https://www.pwc.com/us/en/services/consulting/library/consumer-intelligence-series/future-of-customer-experience.html

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