Harder, better, faster, stronger?

Jon Lawson

There will always be a case for human intervention in customer service, but there is no denying the potential of artificial intelligence in this sector. Roxanne Abercrombie explains how AI is changing customer service

From plastic bags to shaving foam, electronic duo Daft Punk has used an array of eccentric headgear to hide their identities — most of which have been robot-inspired.

When asked how robots became a style inspiration, one half of the duo simply replied, ‘robots are exiting’.

Robots and artificial intelligence (AI) have long been present in pop culture, but as the technology evolves, we’re beginning to see the practicalities of AI in business applications — not just on stage and screen.

There will always be an argument for the importance of the human touch in customer service, but the introduction of AI is driving home the reality that certain things are just better when automated.

For example, AI is simply better at providing businesses with instant insights, by generating informative analytics and reports based on the preferences of its customers.

When implemented into business automation software, predictive analytics technology can provide businesses with an insight into the behaviour paths of its customers.

Using AI, each customer interaction can be documented and recorded in real-time.

Then, this can be analysed against other customer data, such as purchase history, brand and product preferences and internal website searches.

Consider an ecommerce business selling tickets for concerts and live events an example.

Our customer, let’s call him Pete, has visited the website a few times to check the prices for a Daft Punk concert. Pete’s interested — AI knows this because he’s followed the Twitter event page and he’s tagged his mate Mikey in the comments under a show promo on Facebook — but tickets are running low.

When integrated with a business automation application, AI can be programmed to remind our Pete that there are only a handful of tickets remaining and he’ll have to be on the ball if he wants to get into red camp (that’s where the magic happens). Pete’s automated reminder can be sent via email, SMS or using social media advertising — AI will already know his marketing preference.

If he’s still not convinced, automated student discount codes can be issued to give him a little nudge.

Don’t worry, AI already knows that Pete is in his third year of sports science at Nottingham. He used his discount last year buying Olly Murs tickets. Poor taste, we know, but a bargain nonetheless.

Naturally, some of this data could be collected manually by trawling CRM records, purchase history and social media accounts, but AI can deliver actions on this data automatically. There’s no legwork, dodgy stalking, or endless administrative required by your contact centre agents to following up the sale. However, the ways AI can be applied for faster, personalised customer service don’t end there.

Machine learning is the next step in this model of customer service. Unlike traditional customer service technology, AI can use existing information and datasets to ‘train’ itself how to deal with similar interactions in the future.

Naturally, companies must ensure that their datasets are up-to-date and organised to make machine learning possible. However, once this process has been perfected, AI can manage a prospective customer through the entire sales funnel, from the first webpage visit, right up to the doors of the concert venue.

Daft Punk was right, robots are exciting. However, there’s more to robotics and AI than metallic headgear and on-stage laser shows.

AI has the potential to make customer service interactions faster, more intelligent and more personalised. While there’s no denying the need for the human touch, some things really are better automated.

Roxanne Abercrombie is content strategist at business automation expert Parker Software