Humans are an essential part of the customer service experience, right? Not necessarily, according to some companies. Automation is all around us- we can now book doctor’s appointments, order take outs and check flights without even talking to another person, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. By 2020, it’s predicted that 85% if all customer interactions will take place without humans, thanks to state of the art bot technology.

Artificial Intelligence has now become so advanced that it’s transforming the way we communicate with customers. They’re so intuitive that they can handle the majority of tier one support requests, leaving customer service advisers to focus on the more complex tasks (for now, at least). The dreaded on-hold music has been the cause of many an irate customer, so bots’ ability to deal with common queries before they turn into more complex issues could significantly increase customer retention rates.

Systems that use AI are able to identify customer issues in a faster and more accurate way than humans alone will ever be able to; creating real time and constant reports and providing instant resolutions to problems.  A good chatbot also allows you to deliver a round the clock service 365 days a year- no more worrying about staff holidays or unexpected absences. A recent report claims that bots can slash customer service expenditure by as much as 30%- another reason so many companies are taking the plunge.

So does this mean that everyone in a customer service role should be panicking about the future of their jobs? The advancements of AI have been getting employees from a range of sectors feeling twitchy for years, and now it’s frontline professionals who are feeling the pressure. But just because bots can do a lot of the work of a human agent, the most savvy companies know that the future of customer service will always need people. Bots are great for dealing with simple issues like checking delivery dates and making orders, but many customers still crave the empathy and experience of a well-trained advisor who really understands where they’re coming from, rather than just deciphering code. Empathy and hearing a human voice can never be under estimated, so if you’re going to use bots it makes sense to see them as an aid for human advisers, not a replacement.

It’s also wise to be totally clear with customers about who they’re talking to. Some bots are so sophisticated that it’s possible to fool people that they’re dealing with a human, but deceiving your customers is never a good idea. One of the core principles of customer service is to give people a choice, so if you don’t make it clear that they’re actually dealing with a robot they can quickly feel deceived and lose trust in your brand. Customers should always have the option of speaking to a person, especially if it’s a complex issue.

So, bots can indeed play a powerful role in customer service and help companies lower costs. But as for whether they can truly replace humans, there’s no need to panic just yet.

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