There’s a lot of buzz about new-fangled technology in customer support.
In even the most casual reading, exciting terms like sentiment analysis, machine learning, and conversational AI are everywhere.
There are concerns aplenty when it comes to the rise of AI.
Are we looking at a human versus machine showdown? Is humanity going to be subservient to robots? Will AI take over our service jobs and devalue human potential?
The answer is no. In customer service, humans should always be a number one priority.
The remote support of the future
Customer service has always been a human-facing business, and the technologically-driven climate of the future will undoubtedly impact the war for talent.
But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Increased automation will make your customer service environment evolve in unique ways. In addition, going digital broadens the scope of global job opportunities, as more talent is eligible to work from home.
We reached out to experts in the field to discuss the exciting possibilities AI can bring to customer service. And some of the information we got is invaluable.
AI will empower human performance
Increased automation doesn’t mean you’ll see a loss of human resources. On the contrary, it will enhance your staff’s overall performance.
AI’s ability to process big data is on an unimaginable scale for humans. Automation takes away the pain of human effort and reduces error margins.
Furthermore, AI can improve your internal processes and functions, helping your human reps resolve customer issues faster and more efficiently.
The end goal is to empower your service representatives and your support operation. But how does automation do that?
Agents will offer VIP service
With AI primed to solve routine customer queries quickly, people will get used to instant solutions.
So when a customer needs a human for something not handled by AI, they’ll expect you to treat them with focused attention. As if they’re the only customer of the day.
According to Nicoletta Mura, Operations Director at 5CA, “In the wake of major automation, we’ll need service people who handle every customer like a VIP. The customer service industry will have to become highly sophisticated.”
So AI-driven support will require human agents to show a high degree of emotional intelligence, resilience, and humanity in the future. As a result, you’ll need human service reps to offer support of an entirely different support quality.
Agents will build customer relationships
As machines get smarter, self-service and bots will handle all the small stuff.
You can give service reps more time to build better relationships with your customers and help them evolve into customer relationship experts.
Picture a future where agents can be assigned to handle the same customers throughout their lifetime with your brand. Creating this specialised personal support system will forge deep bonds between your customers and your company.
So your agents can work on strengthening customer relationships while AI solves the more mundane issues.
Agents as “the human face” of the brand
Like any of your other offerings, customer service is an extension of your brand. Perhaps even the most important one because, according to Hannelore van Hoof, Engagement Lead at 5CA, it must “have a human face, so customers can see themselves reflected in it.”
For a quick fix, customers can turn to your self-service AI solutions. But a customer who wants to feel appreciated by your brand will always want to chat with a human for empathy, reassurance, and connection.
In an increasingly virtual world, having a comforting human voice for your brand will become more valuable, even on chat and email.
Their very ‘humanness’ will most powerfully represent your brand in the public eye.
Agents will be multi-skilled
With AI taking over specific tasks, machine handling will automate most solutions, negating the need for specialised agents or focused skill sets.
You’ll likely recruit human agents for their multi-skilled potential, as they won’t be required to solve more generic service problems.
Their roles can extend to different departments, and agents can wear as many hats as needed, such as:
As Farah Mather, HR Business Partner at 5CA, puts it: imagine customer experience as the point where a product has yet to break. On the other hand, customer service is when you have a broken product, but fixing it can be automated.
Automation lets you transport people from the customer service department to the customer experience department, so your service agents can do more valuable things with their time.
You could have them work with product managers and become a part of the development team, with the opportunity to be promoted to product managers themselves.
“Product people don’t know customer experience the way service representatives do,” says Farah, “and many issues stem from that missing part of the experience. Working in customer experience lets agents say, ‘Listen, when you design this product, think of the following things….”
Currently, various departments in your company might be functioning in isolation. Service and product, for instance, could be working independently of each other.
But it’s your customer support department that knows your customer best. Given the chance, these agents can provide the insights you need to improve your products.
Greater automation will allow you to collect and share information between your departments, enabling you to make your agents an integral part of the feedback loop to enhance your company offerings.
Abhinav Jain, Advanced Analytics Lead at 5CA, says, “With synergy, your service team can speak to customers directly, understand their problems, and act as your in-house market research team. Instead of employing an external market research company to understand what people need. “
Another advantage of AI taking over routine service tasks is your agents can now focus on understanding your brand vision.
Service reps of the future can be relied on to engage in various brand building activities, as their expertise lets them function as brand representatives.
You can even train them to proactively reach out and engage with customers as unofficial influencers to forge strong customer relationships.
Effectively, you can deploy your customer service personnel to understand and solidify your brand’s position in the market.
Human touch will remain the most powerful contact with a customer
Even with future levels of technological sophistication, the human connection will continue to be the most powerful experience for your customers.
You can’t derive rich customer information from data like average reply time, full resolution time, ticket types, etc., as dry data doesn’t provide much context about a person.
“Cases that require investigation, judgement calls, context evaluation, language, and intention will remain a human prerogative,” says Gerardo Bono, Operations and Solutions Support Director at 5CA.
And as significant automation puts the customer first, it also increases the value of your human personnel in customer service.
The future is synergy between agents, customers, companies, and machines
AI cannot replicate our uniquely human intelligence.
While automation may be cost-efficient, it can’t solve all service problems at its current level of sophistication.
According to Abhinav Jain, Advanced Analytics Lead at 5CA, “Machine learning and AI can only augment what we do, not replace us. We can’t substitute a human mind; we don’t even know what that is. Scientists are still trying to understand consciousness.
So unless machines become conscious, we’re not there yet. Machines do what we tell them to do. They’re smart, and we’re making them smarter every day. That’s all.”
At Cocoroco, we believe the future will be a synergy of multi-skilled talent and digital assistance. We aim to vet and connect unique human talent to global opportunities, thereby raising the industry’s value.
Your customer experience will be richer through impeccable human service because quality support, fueled by the right tools, will always be about the human connection that drives customer success.