Artificial intelligence (AI) has taken the world by storm and permeated virtually every aspect of our lives. And though many of us think of AI as those intelligent robots in the 2004 sci-fi action film, “I, Robot”, in fact, it has already become a part of our everyday routine. According to the statistics, 77% of the devices we use on a daily basis incorporate one or another form of artificial intelligence. No matter whether we’re looking for something on Google, scrolling social media feeds, watching a favorite TV series on streaming services or using navigation, all of these commonplace activities would be impossible without AI-powered applications.
And the truth is that AI is only gaining momentum as it makes its mark on almost every industry. Today, the heavyweight players in the tech industry (i.e., Google, Microsoft, IBM and Samsung) are actively investing in the research and development of AI-related technologies. The AI software market has become one of the fastest evolving sectors. According to the latest research, this market is expected to exponentially grow from $34.87 billion in 2021 to $126 billion in 2025, or over three and a half times in only four years.
It is patently obvious that artificial intelligence is going to become a defining technology of the 21st century. That is the reason why integrating it into your business is not optional anymore. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what artificial intelligence is, what are its benefits for businesses and how it can be integrated into your customer service.
What is Artificial Intelligence?
The term “artificial intelligence” was first coined in the 1950s by John McCarthy, who experimented with its early forms during the 1956 Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence. He wanted to explore whether computers could be used for more than just number crunching.
Artificial intelligence (AI) can be defined as a broad range of technologies that enable smart machines to perform tasks that generally require human intelligence. In other words, artificial intelligence allows computers to imitate human intelligence, so they can learn, process information and solve problems just in the same way a human being would.
How does Artificial Intelligence work?
Broadly speaking, AI systems work by consuming a huge amount of data and analyzing these data for patterns and correlations. This allows the AI-powered software to learn from these patterns and predict future states. In this way, the chatbot that is loaded with examples of text chats with real people can analyze them and learn how to imitate realistic communication.
Artificial intelligence is a broad field of computer science that encompasses a wide range of subdomains that serve various purposes. Its major subdomains include:
- Machine learning is focused on developing algorithms that will allow the computer to analyze data and make predictions based on past experience. In this way, music streaming platforms can predict tracks you might like, mapping applications can choose the best routes, and medical applications can aid in image interpretation and disease diagnosis.
- Deep learning uses artificial neural networks to process large amounts of data and learn complex patterns in these data. It’s commonly applied in speech and image recognition apps. Thanks to deep learning, we can use voice assistants (like Siri, Cortana, or Alexa) to tell us what the weather is like outside every morning.
- Neural networks are computer systems designed to mimic biological neural networks in the human brain. This technology enables deep learning and allows computers to process data, make associations, and derive meaning from the previously undefined data.
- Natural language processing (NLP) provides computers with the ability to recognize, interpret and generate human language. Among the prominent examples of NLP technologies are, of course, voice assistants, online translators, autocorrect, autocomplete and predictive text features in smart keyboard software.
- Computer vision is aimed at using pattern identification and deep learning to recognize and interpret the content of an image, video or other visual data input. It is commonly applied in the development of self-driving cars, analyzing medical images, enabling facial recognition for verification in banking, etc.
How will artificial intelligence redefine customer service?
As companies move towards digitalization, the integration of AI solutions into their business processes becomes inevitable. Needless to say, combining the capabilities of AI-powered technologies with the skills of human support agents will result in a higher level of customer experience. Moreover, the research shows that AI adoption is anticipated to boost the productivity of employees by up to 40% by 2035.
So, how is AI adoption beneficial to customer service?
- Around-the-clock availability. Artificial intelligence doesn’t need to sleep or rest. It means your customers can get help or find answers to their questions anytime and anywhere.
- Prompt resolutions. AI is capable of processing information quicker than a human brain. Consequently, it will provide answers to common questions significantly faster. Therefore, the adoption of AI technologies will allow businesses to significantly reduce wait times and handle customer inquiries more quickly.
- Improved workload management. Once trained, AI-enabled solutions can substitute for human staff in handling simple, frequently appearing issues. This allows customer support representatives to have more time to focus on more complex inquiries that require human interaction.
- More satisfied customers. Customers value not only the quality of your products but the quality of your service as well. With AI analyzing patterns, companies gain the chance not only to better understand customer issues but also to avoid situations when the support inquiry is lost, forgotten or missed. AI-powered virtual assistants can help automate the creation of follow-up tasks or activities and ensure quick readdressing of urgent support inquiries to the relevant specialist for prompt resolution. As a result, customers remain satisfied, tend to stay with the company longer and recommend its products and services to their friends.
- Data integrity. The consistency and accuracy of data are two primary factors that influence business growth. Artificial Intelligence can identify anomalies, duplications and irregularities in support inquiries, and can update records in real-time to eliminate data clutter.
Examples of AI-powered technologies in customer service
Now let’s take a look at some of the most popular AI use cases in customer service that help businesses to deliver an exceptional customer experience.
Customer service chatbots
Chatbots are probably the most widely adopted form of artificial intelligence in customer support. Their around-the-clock availability allows businesses to ensure that customers get a speedy and accurate response to simple questions, or will be quickly redirected to live customer support managers if the issue is more complex. They help make customer service more efficient, reduce the average handling time and boost customer satisfaction rates.
Face and voice recognition
AI-based algorithms provide the ability to authenticate customers using biometrics. Face recognition solutions can identify a person by analyzing the shape of a face, the width of the nose or the distance between eyes. At the same time, voice recognition solutions work by analyzing words and voice characteristics (such as tone, pitch and cadence) to create a unique voiceprint that can further be used to authenticate a person. Both technologies may help the support staff in the financial or insurance sectors to more quickly identify an individual and minimize the risks of impersonation and fraud.
Emotion AI solutions are aimed at identifying and evaluating customer emotions by analyzing textual, auditory and visual data. The awareness of the emotions and mood of customers allows companies to determine customer intent and route them to the right agent. While happy customers can be transitioned to sales representatives and offered extra products or services, angry customers should be routed to customer retention specialists to resolve their issues. By doing so, businesses may significantly reduce customer churn and increase sales.
Natural language processing and computer vision can be used for monitoring customer reviews on forums, blogs and social media, and analyzing customer conversations with support staff to automatically identify issues, create tickets and address problems proactively. In this way, companies gain the opportunity to recognize and resolve issues in their early stages.
AI-based solutions can analyze conversations for the best response practices and suggest possible resolutions to the support agents. By supplementing agents’ knowledge and providing ready-made answers to simple inquiries, artificial intelligence provides the ability to standardize communication, makes support agents more productive and improves customer satisfaction.
Artificial intelligence is becoming more than just a buzzword. It’s now an integral part of our lives, and it’s starting to take over customer service. What used to take hours, days or even weeks to process a customer request now only takes a few minutes – and that’s a big time saver for both companies and customers.