AI and bots: What remains for humans in customer service?
20 Dec, 2020
Humans and their technical developments: They are rarely completely happy with each other, but they can't do without each other either. The entry of artificial intelligence (AI) into the world of work has been making headlines for a long time, and no longer just in the business press. Concerns are spreading at all levels of society about whether human labour will sooner or later become obsolete due to the growing spread of AI. On the other hand, technology advocates are promoting the benefits of AI, which simplifies life and the world of work by automating simple and often rather tedious tasks.
Human and machine
AI creators like to accuse critics of oversimplifying the discussion by taking a black-and-white view of humans and machines. And in fact, a closer look at business practice shows that it is rarely a question of either/or, but rather of the finely balanced interaction of artificial and human intelligence. In terms of customer service, the overall quality of service continues to improve, not least thanks to artificial intelligence. Even if there is a need to catch up in many areas, customer service has never been as fast, effective and frustration-free as it is today. By the way, chatbots and other digital helpers are taking some of the unpopular work off our hands.
AI vs. bots: Who does what?
AI uses statistical and neural processes to recognise complex customer wishes in customer service, for example. It analyses language and, thanks to speech codes, penetrates so deeply into their systems that it is already possible today to determine emotions and moods quite accurately. Lifelong learning is provided by machine learning and growing databases that anticipate the next sensible action and formulate suitable answers to customer questions. All this is already a reality today. A chatbot is much simpler. In addition, chatbots do little more technically than conventional dialogue systems, which also explains their epic crashes and manipulations in the past. However, they are quite widespread in the customer service environment and are lively discussed in this context precisely for this reason.
Smart work distribution
Although the practical possibilities of bots are limited, the role of humans is a sensitive topic in a working world in which artificial intelligence has assumed unforeseen proportions, supposedly overnight. But let's be honest: do we need and want the human factor everywhere, or are we merely mourning a nostalgic idea of the business world for which a new era is beginning with digital transformation? Are we more satisfied when a human being has solved a problem? Does our pizza order have to be typed by a human hand? Does the standardised answer to the question about the weather in Berlin bother us?
For simple tasks, chatbots can be a real asset to any customer service team by relieving employees of tedious routine tasks. Ultimately, problems need to be solved and prioritisation is required. What can an AI-supported bot do, and which questions require human intelligence? Customers turn to the service in the hope of solving a problem, receiving competent advice or other help - and all as quickly as possible. Every business decision-maker wants a similar result: a customer service that works quickly, competently and cost-effectively.
Afraid of machines?
And what can humans have over a bot and artificial intelligence in the future? That which makes them human! Emotions, humour, self-criticism, empathy - all these are humans' strongest weapons and the best contribution to an excellent service experience. Meeting customers at eye level is no longer an insider tip, and the focus will continue to be on personal advice from person to person. For sensitive or emotionally charged situations, humanity is in high demand. And in order to be able to concentrate fully on the human factor in customer service, artificial intelligence is proving to be humans' best friend by taking over unloved routine tasks, doing preliminary work and thus creating time for more important tasks.
Hand in hand to success
Artificial intelligence can already be used efficiently for routine tasks and recurring customer enquiries in customer service. At the same time, deeply human qualities such as empathy and humour remain irreplaceable for a perfect customer experience. Our forecast: excellent and efficient customer service will continue to consist of a combination of artificial and human intelligence for many years to come. Without humans at its core and as a corrective, a machine is just a machine.