As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to halt the world, rattling businesses and obliging people to stay at home, the call center locations are being inundated with an unparalleled influx on the number of calls they are receiving. Just these past few days, several businesses from a variety of industries have reported having a slowdown.
The financial industry has been reported by customers to have very long waiting times and, in worse cases, disconnection with their customer service phone lines. Airlines are struggling to keep up with their customer service demands, too; their customers have to wait at least 10 hours to have been served. Even tech companies are being held back. Also, they admit to several places of their platform informing their users that there would be delays before they would be able to get back to your concerns.
Why Is The Customer Service Industry Getting Held Back
The reason behind the customer service industry’s performance decline is that most of their workforce globally is being forced to work at home. A lot of businesses are resorting to artificial intelligence to aid this customer service performance decline even before the technology is fully ready. Inevitably there are imperfections with how they function. Even though they aren’t perfect, it certainly sped up the development of customer service applications of artificial intelligence. That said, these systems can’t function alone; there has to be human intervention.
AI-focused Tech Companies Get More Attention
Tech companies that specialize in artificial intelligence applications have been seeing a sudden uptick on the interest, sales, and attention they have been getting due to businesses suddenly urging to jump into AI-powered customer service to supplement their workforce that is being continuously weakened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, brands in almost all industries have been observing nearly a quarter of a percent more increase in the use of their AI-powered chatbots and automated messaging systems over the past couple of months. In the travel and hospitality industries, it’s even higher, the utilization of their AI systems has skyrocketed to almost 130%.
AI Developers Committed To Serve Their Clients
Never before in the history of the world have we seen this push in doing things remotely, it certainly has pushed changes to the way we work and interact with our clients. This phenomenon calls for more applications of automated and artificial intelligence-powered systems.
Tech companies that focus on developing AI systems are seeing a drastic change in the way their customers (who are also tech companies) utilize their AI-powered customer service systems; this is also, of course, due to the high-demand people who use their services. This demand forges the relationship between tech companies and AI development tech companies to collaborate their way to increase the capacity of their automated AI-powered systems so they can implement their employees to stay and work at home.
AI Just Can’t Completely Replace Humans
Many businesses have been using AI-powered customer service systems to serve their clients even before COVID-19 came along; this is due to the way their clients simply prefer doing transactions with them this way. According to some studies, a lot of companies, when asked, say that a huge percentage of their customers prefer using their deployed automated system. But artificial intelligence is lightyears away from being perfect. Major tech companies like Twitter, Facebook, and Google had to reduce their reliance on AI-powered content moderation systems because when they try mostly running on it alone, it developed problems like mistakenly putting down legitimate pieces of content.
Both these major tech companies and AI development companies, therefore, conclude that they are always going to be needing the human element for them to keep their systems running reliably. This is because AIs are great at handling repetitive and straightforward tasks, but they can’t beat humans when it comes to uber complex procedures, although the combined power of the two of them would be the sweet spot.
Companies who are keen on embracing the use of AI-powered systems are springing up new job titles like “bot moderators” that would supervise the performance and configuration of the company’s bots. Because of the nature of the tasks involved, personnel who work on the customer service department are the ones qualified by default to take on this job as they handle customer interactions daily, this experience would certainly help them on improving the AI-powered systems more than anyone else can.
A world of customer service without humans is not even remotely close to reality. There is just such a wide array of different types of businesses in various industries; there is simply an unlimited number of different needs for an automated solution to be put into place like a one-size-fits-all solution. The reality is that 100% autonomy is simply not possible even if you have a vast amount of data at your disposal.
A Step In The Right Direction
Even with all the limitations of artificial intelligence, the reasons to keep on pursuing its development seems worth it. Just before 2019 ended, Google released its AI-powered customer service management solution called the Contact Center AI, it, of course, covers all the basics of customer service, it has a feature that provides artificial intelligence-powered customer service agents that very superbly does serve simple transactions that the customer wanted to be done. But what is impressive about what they did is the seamless transition to humans when artificial intelligence just can’t cut it anymore, they have done this through sophisticated call transcription technology. Contact Center AI combines all three resources that they have, the essential AI-powered agent assist, the intervention of human agents for more complex transactions and a plethora of helpful articles, resources, and workflows on Google’s mighty data arsenal, to provide the best possible customer service experience with the least amount of cost while achieving the highest amount of efficiency reasons.
When the inquiry gets a little too much for the AI-powered agent, Contact Center AI would automatically understand the nature of the investigation and very intelligently pass the concern on to the people who could handle it most appropriately. The human agent then would receive the care and override the AI-powered agent in supporting the customer about their inquiry through messaging, email, social, or whatever platform might be available.
Google reckons that their system would lower down your spending on customer service that would ultimately pay only 10% of what you used to pay before, and claim that Contact Center AI would reduce human agent work by more than 3-quarters of a percent, which is mind-blowingly massive. And to put those numbers into perspective, the top 2,000 companies, in the United States alone, on average, spend a quarter of a billion dollars per year on their customer service department and sweep through 50 billion customer tickets per year.
The Future Of Customer Service Centers
Phenomenons like the COVID-19 give us a sneak peek at the future on how companies would serve their customers, and as consumers, we realize how we’re being served changes. The future of customer service is text; it will be AI-powered messaging. Bigger companies discovered how their customers favored communicating on text-based platforms, and got a better result in serving them compared to the method of yesteryear, voice. Another reason why text-based automated messaging is more advantageous than voice when it comes to AI-powered customer service solution is that the platforms where it is possible to deploy these kinds of systems are also already being used by the majority of people, like instant messaging apps and SMS messaging where there is a perfect chance that their customer is already in these platforms. Without even mentioning that when you are on a text-based automated messaging customer service platform, you don’t have to bother going through all the headache of finding a remote customer service center where you can route your calls to where their agents who are working at home are dealing with hurdles like noisy work areas where dogs, people, and vehicle noise are potentially a problem. It is also worth considering the thought that it’s a huge risk to rely on customer service centers that are on a certain location with hundreds if not thousands of people sitting too close to one another.
To adapt to ever-changing times like these force businesses to speed up changing to doing business with remote customer service centers and establish a remote work arrangement for their agents. Companies that would be able to adapt to this quickly would certainly have an advantage in this world that gets ever so dynamic because they would deploy their customer service solutions on a platform where they have massively more reach to their customers, like social platforms where people always spend time on.
Also, check out Customer Still Has To Be King Despite COVID-19
Founder, Editor-In-Chief // A native Angeleno. John studied engineering at UCLA; founded Schmoozd, an offline social tech networking event in LA with 30,000 subs; ran a startup accelerator (StartEngine). Worked for several major brands like Toyota, DIRECTV, Hitachi, ICANN, and Raytheon. A mentor at Loyola Marymount University (LMU) Entrepreneur School, Dr. David Choi. And advises a dozen local LA startups building amazing tech in various industries; and invested in some. // Let's Connect: firstname.lastname@example.org