AI & Intelligence Augmentation

Customer Service and AI-Human Collaboration: What You Need to Know

Artificial intelligence is becoming an integral part of business today. Here are ways to encourage and develop AI-human collaboration in your customer service efforts.

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Artificial intelligence (AI) isn’t going away, and humans need to learn how to work alongside it. AI’s relationship with customer service is already well established, but it’s only getting started. For the best chance at success in the future, customer service leaders must make wise decisions today about how AI technology fits into the human world. These insights from MIT Sloan Management Review can help customer service leaders shape the future of AI-human collaborations.

Focus on Customer Experience

While cost savings have traditionally been a driving factor in customer service planning and strategy, the future looks different. AI technology, particularly natural language processing, is still in its early stages—and that’s a key point for customer service leaders to remember as they consider how virtual customer service agents fit into their overall offerings. A well-designed chatbot helps root out a customer’s intent while alleviating frustration, but AI tools can’t do it all. Design virtual agents with the customer’s perspective in mind, and know when the chatbot needs to hand off the interaction to a live agent.

Define the Roles and Responsibilities

Every member of your customer service team has a well-defined role with a clear scope of responsibilities. Typically, these are matched to an agent’s abilities and limitations. Your AI-powered tools need the same definitions in order to perform effectively. Think of your customer service chatbot as a member of your team, and outline what it needs to accomplish and where its responsibilities end. MIT also points out the importance of considering which mode of collaboration best suits your customers’ needs: bots starting a conversation and handing off to a live agent, human agents getting support from virtual agents, or chatbots assisting customers with human supervision.

Lean on AI Tools to Free Up Your Human Agents

MIT research shows that virtual agents can handle up to 80% of customer inquiries, which translates into loads of available time for your human customer service representatives (CSRs). This doesn’t mean AI tools need to handle customer service interactions from beginning to end in order to save time, though. Virtual agents are exceptionally good at collecting information, so they can reduce the amount of time a human agent needs to spend on the phone by gathering a customer’s name, contact info, and reason for needing assistance before handing off the interaction to a live agent—shaving off seconds, or even minutes, from each inquiry. With this increase in availability, your customer service agents can spend more time working on more complicated issues and resolving problems for upset customers.

Virtual Agents Can Improve Human Performance

Loading up an AI chatbot with company information, including product details, inventory, and sales discounts, can enable your virtual agents to act as assistants to your human agents. This behind-the-scenes role helps human customer service agents provide better, more comprehensive support to your customers—who never need to know the AI technology even exists.

The future of customer service relies on smart collaboration with AI tools. Virtual agents will continue to evolve as machine learning and natural language processing improve, and they may someday be able to take on even more responsibilities. For now, human customer service teams need to partner with AI and learn the basics of how to leverage these technologies to offer a better customer experience, solve problems faster, and help satisfy customers.