Why customer service is going to be fully automated

We talk to chatbots instead of reading FAQs today, but the future of customer service is completely automated, with AI innovations leading the way.
5 March 2018

Very soon, all customer interactions will be fully automated. Source: Shutterstock


emember the good old days when you read user manuals to make sense of the appliances you purchased from the mall?

Then came the internet and you could read the FAQs on the manufacturer’s website. And you can call. That’s always been an option.

But quite often, you find yourself waiting for an executive to speak to you, sometimes in an accent you find hard to understand perhaps?

Well, the future is better – and it’s already almost here.

AI in customer service has long stopped being a science fiction fantasy. In fact, over 90 percent of world-leading brands like Alibaba and Uber already use some form of AI-powered solution to improve customer interactions.

And by 2020, experts believe more than 85 percent of all customer interactions the world over will be fully automated, a recent report on IBM’s blog says.

A study by Kayako found that 73 percent of customer service professionals feel that managing time and workload is the greatest challenge. Typically, these professionals face a proliferation of queries to solve and heated customers to pacify.

But AI has the potential to solve this issue, perhaps even removing the need for a customer service officer altogether. Picking up your phone to call a customer service hotline has become something of a chore. Often it involves having to endure harrowing hold music and having to answer an array of automated questions before finally being put through to someone who may or may not provide a helpful answer.

With the introduction of AI-powered chatbots, businesses of all kinds can not only improve their customer experience but also cut costs within their support-providing departments.

Automation can help improve customer experience and save costs for a business. Source: Shutterstock

Customer service professionals spend the majority of their time answering frequently asked questions. A separate report on IBM says businesses spend around US$1.3 trillion on 265 billion customer service calls each year.

Chatbots can help businesses save on customer service costs by answering up to 80 percent of routine questions, freeing up agents to focus on more pressing and perhaps complex issues instead.

In a blogpost by the American Marketing Association, Kate DuHadway wrote:

“With the rise of chatbots, brands can feasibly fulfill the promise of social media: personal, trackable, scalable conversations and insights directly from the people your organization is aiming to serve.”

Autodesk is an example of a “successful” automated customer service deployment. The global leader in 3D computer-aided design reportedly found that their customer service chatbot “AVA” led to:

  • A 99 percent improvement in response times, cutting resolution from 38 hours to just 5.4 minutes.
  • A drop in per-query cost from US$15 – US$200 of the costs of human agents to US$1 (virtual agents).
  • They found that their virtual agent was able to answer and resolve an average of 30,000 customer support queries per month.

It is not hard to see that the potential of chatbots in creating a seamless, personalized, intelligent and immediate customer journey is sure to benefit businesses across all industries.

“AI is changing the business landscape and demonstrating effectiveness even in industries like insurance that have been traditionally based on human interaction. The benefits of bots are impossible to ignore,” says Ziegler.

With many today communicating through digital mobile platforms such as Whatsapp and Facebook messenger, the shift in customer service advice from humans to chatbots only seems natural.

“With consumers being more ‘connected’ every day, companies need to include bots as part of their communications strategy,” he adds.

It’s time for businesses to jump the chatbot bandwagon. Source: Shutterstock

However, though chatbots are delivering a more personalized and immediate experience for consumers, the need for human qualities such as true empathy and experiential experience does not go unnoticed.

“Certainly humans and machines can co-exist, just as they have since the very first machine was created. Machines are used to augment and supplement our lives.”

“AI enables our workforce to do better through auto-piloting (handling high volume repetitive tasks so focus can be put onto more challenging ones) and co-piloting (recommending the best choices available to us),” says Ziegler.