A report published in Forbes during Feb this year tells that by 2025, an estimated 95% of customer interactions will be [supported] (may not be actually done) by AI technology. “From chatbots to automation, artificial intelligence helps brands learn more about their customers to enhance personalization,” it reads.
You may have read many similar reports (and will read more going forward) as we witness a massive tsunami of AI-assisted technologies used for customer service, customer-interactions and similar jobs. There is no doubt that we are moving away from the hype surrounding AI and more real-world cases are surfacing every day.
Consider this paragraph that I’ve cut and paste from a website called aibusiness.com: “By 2020, 80% of senior marketing and sales guys (oracle report) expect to serve customers through chatbots. By 2022, chatbots are estimated to save businesses US$ 8 billion per annum. A Deloitte report shows there were some 100,000 chatbots on Facebook messenger alone in April 2017, up from just 30,000 six months before. The numbers are all stacking up in favour of a future dominated by AI. Isn’t it? Yes, on the face of it, it’s true.
But are humans ready to talk to bots and be serviced?
Are humans going to accept this imbalance tilting in favour of tech-driven CX?
In the quest for making a quick connect with customers and automating the process simply to have that initial hook, are companies totally ignoring the importance of human touch in customer service?
A recent PwC Survey titled “Experience is Everything. Get it Right” says it all in nutshell. The global consulting firm surveyed 15000 people across 12 countries including the US, UK, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Columbia, Germany, Japan, Mexico and Singapore and 2/3rd of them replied that the companies have lost touch with the human element of the customer experience. 3/4th of the people surveyed said they want more human interaction in future, not less.
In the age when there is a mad rush for the chatbots, digital identities, digital payments, sensor-based interactions, AI and analytics based customer service, the data indicates that companies need to work hard to strike the right customer experience (CX) balance. And that’s the reason why David Clarke, Principal and Experience Consulting Leader, PwC says that technology alone can’t solve the CX problems of brands. “It is an enabler, facilitating the connection between a product or a service and the consumer. Instead, they must find a way to create an experience that blends consumer demand for tech with their strong desire for authentic, personal interaction.”
And that’s where a Genpact Study, done last year, underlines that only 12% of the people would currently prefer to be served by a chatbot instead of a human – even if the service they receive is faster and more accurate.
There’s no doubt that as the technology matures, and deep learning, natural language processing (NLP) and AI become more streamlined, the inhibition will go and acceptability of technology will grow. But companies can’t rick losing the customers due to bad experiences and therefore would want to strike the right balance between people and technology.
While the use of Chatbots will grow and that’s proved by almost every research report that we lay our hands on, including Gartner which predicts that 25% of customer service and support operations will integrate virtual customer assistant (VCA) or a chatbot technology across engagement channels by 2020, up from less than two percent in 2017, it is true that those responsible for customer service be it CMO, CRM Heads, CIOs have to keep in mind that there’s a right balance between the technology and human element.
(Image Courtesy: www.buzinga.com.au)