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How long will it be before robots replace customer service agents?

by on June 15, 2018 in Business, CRM, Lead Article, Lead story, News you can use, Tech

How long will it be before robots replace customer service agents?

Ashley Unitt, NewVoiceMedia

From ordering pizza and online banking to checking-in for flights, robotic customer service agents are everywhere.

For customers, bots provide speed, efficiency and round-the-clock service; for businesses, they offer scalability and cost-efficiency.

While there’s no doubt that advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have revolutionised the customer service industry, are robots ready to replace human agents entirely? Let’s take a look!

It’s still early days

Moore’s Law means computers are getting smarter all the time. However, it’s important to remember that while technology has done a great job replacing some support roles, customer service bots are still in their relative infancy.

Most current gen chatbots run on basic rule-based code. This means they use a list of pre-set ‘if-then’ rules to respond to queries. As a result, most of the customer service functions that bots perform are still administrative or very simplistic in nature.

Chatbots can work all day and night, helping businesses to deliver the 24/7 service that today’s ‘always-on’ customers demand. What they can’t do is deal with more complex customer queries, which is why smart businesses build escalation paths to live assistance into robot-enabled support.

The human touch is still important

AI-powered customer service should assist humans, not replace them. When it comes to understanding and reacting properly to emotion and forging good customer relationships, man still holds the advantage over machine.

Most customers are happy to interact with helpful virtual assistants but are unlikely to ever bond with a robot. If a machine mind is doing most of the ‘thinking’, making a customer feel valued or appreciated becomes doubly difficult.

Poor service causes customers to switch

Through recent research NewVoiceMedia carried out into customer service, we discovered that 42% of people have left a business in the last year because of poor customer service. At the same time, 48% still believe calling a business is the quickest way to solve issues.

No one can argue that service hasn’t become more customer led. Yet despite the increased number of people happy to use bots, if businesses replace the human touch entirely, they might accidentally drive their customers into the arms of a competitor.

NewVoiceMedia’s study found that 63 percent of UK consumers would be more likely to do business with a company again if they felt they’d made a positive emotional connection with a customer service agent, highlighting just how important the personal touch is when it comes to customer satisfaction and retention.

Live assistance is not dead

Gartner predicted that 85% of all customer to business communications will happen without human interaction by 2020. Rather than making agents redundant, this provides clever businesses with more time and resource to improve their live assistance offering.

As discussed, the clear majority of robot supported interactions will be reserved for simple requests. In the process, agents are freed from the tedium of answering mundane enquiries, making their roles more rewarding.

When things become emotional and complex, customers still prefer talking to a real voice.  In this context, customer service that seamlessly blends man and machine will help keep agents fresh for the human interactions that matter.

Final thoughts

Technology is supposed to make life easier. By reducing the monotonous elements of customer service, robots fulfil this need. For customer service agents, this provides extra capacity to deliver the dynamic human service that robots can’t.

By working together to deliver a complete customer service, man and machine can achieve more than either could alone. At present, the day that robots replace customer service agents entirely is still a distant reality.To learn even more about taking your customer service strategy to the next level, check out our selection of whitepapers.

How long do you think it will be before robots replace customer service agents?

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