The future propelled by AI is not what you think

CC BY-SA 3.0 Nick Youngson

Forget everything you’ve heard about the workplace of the future where artificial intelligence or AI-driven technology supplants humans and results in massive job losses across the globe.

Instead, re-imagine a workplace where AI moves beyond the realm of technological threat to serve a higher purpose — complementing instead of replacing humanity. That workplace is in its nascent stages but is becoming more commonplace. The most synergistic and successful example of AI-infused human capital today can be found in the customer service arena.

In addition to transforming the customer service center, AI is driving employee success and satisfaction, elevating customer experiences and increasing brand loyalty.

Employee success and satisfaction
Integrating AI into the customer service function frees teams from inane, repetitive activity. Agents are able to respond to increasing volumes more quickly and provide a more customer-friendly experience.

Dutch airline KLM, for example, managed to boost its contact center function by integrating AI. They logged more than 60,000 customer interactions spanning lost baggage to canceled flights. For each new customer query, agents received relevant suggestions and were able to quickly select or tweak answers to common queries. This allowed agents to move on to requests that required more time and attention.

With each interaction, KLM’s system gets smarter and their agents become more efficient, productive and proficient as they handle the 100,000 weekly messages in 12 different languages that come over social channels.

Providing an AI-assisted human experience is not only producing optimal results but increasing agent satisfaction and leading to improved customer experiences.

Elevating the customer experience 
By equipping contact centers with AI, customers are relieved of time-consuming and off-base interactions. Their needs are addressed quickly and intelligently. Service can be available via SMS and social channels like Facebook or Twitter messaging. There are no phone numbers to dial and no waiting on hold. This mobile-social availability is critical, as customers are more apt to use social messaging platforms vs. apps or even websites.

Combining messaging with AI allows brands to talk to customers directly, building personal relationships while meeting increased demands for immediate response and accuracy.

The business case for AI in customer service
Some 57 percent of AI adopters said improving the customer experience is the biggest business benefit, according to a Forrester survey. It was found that leveraging AI in customer service is leading to improved responsiveness without the need to scale talent or increase learning for agents.

Customer service software leader Zendesk has integrated AI with highly successful results. About 55 percent of tickets across all Zendesk customers are being solved with the assistance of AI. And, the company has reported that its system is making more than 50,000 AI predictions every week with an accuracy rate exceeding 90 percent and growing.

Improving the customer experience will lead to greater brand loyalty. And, over time, contact centers will be able to shift from being cost centers to value centers.

Artificial intelligence is here and it will change our lives. But don’t expect to see a future where the need for a human touch becomes obsolete. Instead, expect to see a future where people can thrive, machines continually evolve, and the two will learn from each other.