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Will AI Fix our Frustration with Customer Service?

Published: Tuesday, Mar 7, 2017

I started dictating this article to Siri, but I gave up within a few minutes after I had to repeat my words again and again. Emerging Human Assisted Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Assistants, and Machine Learning technology has become a reality everywhere. We use them to check the status of our orders, reorder a prescription or book our trips. While chat bots enhance and optimize company function, bots assisted by humans are shown to be more effective for businesses, at least for the time being.

While these bots are ambitious, they’re not humans yet. They rely on scripted, command-responses, which can quickly get things wrong as they deal with more complex issues and the user forgets that they are interacting with a machine and start the path of natural language in the context of that specific instant-message interaction. There is no doubt that instant messaging is the preferred way of communication for most of us. We prefer instant messaging to a phone call in a 5:1 ratio and Millennials on average send 67 text messages per day, and preferring to go to a dentist rather than phone a retailer!

Instant-message sessions with customer service agents are getting traction and resulting in increased satisfaction among users, but at some point, automation is required to keep operational costs low.

With the continuous improvement of AI, Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML), we should be able to make these interfaces work much better. Despite the impressive number of chatbots deployed – chatbots on Facebook are growing at a faster speed than the apps on Apple Store in its early days – we still need to overcome some challenges, as chatbots are still in their infancy.

Gartner predicts 85 percent of customer business relationships will be intelligently automated by 2020, while a Forrester survey found that almost seven of every ten contact centers expanded their number of seats in 2016 to meet customer demand. Companies are automating customer relationships with chatbots while increasing their agents as well.

Can humans co-exist with chatbots? The answer is yes. Leading companies report a double-digit increase in marketing conversion rates and operational cost reduction when they automate low-value, repetitive functions and program their bots to escalate issues where necessary, leaving their employees to focus on complex problems and deliver the best customer experience possible.

There’s evidence that this automation is already happening and working. Just one of every fifty calls to local businesses involve asking for directions, hours, and account balances these days, as the answer to those questions are handled by technology.

BI Intelligence found that the potential savings from customer service automation could result in $23 billion savings for U.S. companies annually.

80 percent of the population accesses the internet from their mobile device. The always-connected mobile consumers expect immediate responses from business services. Three of every four customers believe that it takes too long to reach a live agent and Accenture found that half of those customers stated that a better mobile service experience could have kept them from switching companies. This is where chatbots can be of great value, as the response is immediate. Instant-messaging is also the communication mechanism preferred by the average customer these days. And finally, chatbots can escalate issues as necessary, freeing up your customer service reps for important, timely issues.

Human-assisted Chatbots have a substantial impact on the bottom line of companies. The data shows that customers expect to communicate with businesses in the same way they interact with family and friends. Instant-messaging is a powerful communication channel, and Chatbots are a fantastic way to work alongside customer service and sales reps; while AI and NLP continue its relentless advance towards a robotic future.


  1. Busby, John. “Chatbots Will Not Replace 5 Million Jobs, as the Data suggests.” VentureBeat. Venture Beat, n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.
  2. Scout, Help. “75 Customer Service Facts, Quotes & Statistics.” 75 Customer Service Stats and Facts You Can’t Afford to Ignore. HelpScout, n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.
  3. Clark, Mark. “Chatbots Could Reduce Cost of Customer Care by up to 29%?” Chatbots Could Reduce Cost of Customer Care by up to 29%? Contact Solutions, n.d. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.
  4. Burke, Collin. “100 Customer Service Statistics.” InsightSquared. InsightSquared, 22 Dec. 2015. Web. 06 Mar. 2017.

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