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The Pros & Cons of AI Customer Service for CX

Unless you’ve been living in the Stone Age, you’ve likely already encountered AI customer service in your everyday life. Chatbots and ever-changing algorithms touch almost every aspect of customer experience (CX). And with the prospect of saving tons of money with automation, it’s no wonder why so many businesses are on board this latest tech trend. 

However, are the bots all they’re cracked up to be? 

In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at the potential uses of AI in customer service, as well as the benefits and drawbacks. Whether we’re ready or not, AI is revolutionizing customer service—and your business should take careful consideration before utilizing these cutting-edge technologies. 

The Future is Now

Ultimately, the goal of automation is to streamline the experience of customers and businesses alike. Customers get what they want faster and with more consistent quality, leading to higher customer satisfaction. And by eliminating the need for constant human supervision, businesses can handle repetitive, time-consuming, and resource-heavy tasks automatically. In turn, employees can apply their skills to higher, more human activities. 

But what are the specific benefits you could reap by adding AI to your customer service process? 

Advantages of AI Customer Service

  • 24/7 Availability. Instead of hiring staff to respond to customers all day and night, even when it’s not busy, the AI can do it for you. AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants provide round-the-clock support—without the limitations of human working hours. 
  • Cost Savings. Obviously, using AI customer service is significantly cheaper than hiring any number of human employees to do the same repetitive tasks. This frees up human employees to focus on more complex issues and ensures a more efficient allocation of resources. 
  • Increased Efficiency. AI can handle a large volume of inquiries simultaneously—a task that could be overwhelming for human counterparts. Automation can significantly reduce wait times and improve the speed of issue resolution. 
  • Personalized Interactions. Even though chatbots might be literally robotic, many customer service AI programs are designed to provide a personal experience. By analyzing data on customer preferences and behavior, AI can create a tailored and engaging experience for every user. 
  • Improved Accuracy. After all, humans are only human. AI systems can quickly and accurately process information and minimize the risk of errors that might occur with human employees. Undoubtedly, a simple typo could lead to a world of misunderstanding. 

With all these benefits, it’s easy to see how a well-executed AI customer service program can be a huge advantage. Not only can it streamline your business and eliminate repetitive tasks, it can also improve customer satisfaction overall. Customer service is a huge part of customer satisfaction. With a quality customer service experience, customers will know they can trust you with their business. In turn, they’ll be more likely to come back for more—and recommend you to friends, family, and followers.  

Is AI a Dream or a Nightmare?

Back in the day, when we imagined what the future might look like, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect machines to take over the most menial tasks required for running a business. Imagine a telephone switchboard operated by silvery Atomic Age-style humanoid robots. And that’s not too far off from what we achieved! 

Unfortunately, it’s not always a dream come true. All too often, technology doesn’t work as well as we intend. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the potential drawbacks of implementing AI customer service for small and mid-size businesses. 

Drawbacks of AI Customer Service

  • Lack of Human Touch. Ultimately, nothing compares to the real deal—and the same can be true with AI customer service. AI can come across as cold or impersonal, which is especially problematic for customers looking for an empathetic interaction. Plus, complex and nuanced problems may still require human intervention, which may negate the benefit of automation. 
  • Technical Issues. Integrating AI into your business often requires significant technical expertise and resources. Even with technical support from your AI platform, this can still lead to many late-night head-scratchers. Plus, after it’s set up, there are bound to be ongoing maintenance tasks and updates. 
  • Potential Costs. AI can be cheap, but any program worth its algorithm won’t come free. For smaller businesses with limited budgets, getting a quality AI customer service program might be a challenge. 
  • Limited Understanding. When interacting with a customer, AI may not fully understand the context or subtleties of a query. This could lead to inappropriate or inaccurate responses—and therefore unsatisfactory interactions. And the less quality data your AI has to work with, the worse the outcome. 
  • Errors and Ethics. AI systems can inadvertently perpetuate or amplify existing biases in the data they’re trained on. This can lead to unfair treatment of certain customer groups, as well as potentially problematic misunderstandings. Additionally, the use of AI raises ethical questions about transparency, privacy, accountability, and job displacement. 

There is also the issue of customer resistance to consider. Some customers still prefer speaking with a human agent and are resistant to interacting with AI, particularly for sensitive or complex issues. And if an AI system fails to respond satisfactorily, it can lead to customer frustration and even loss. Certainly, there are high risks at stake here. 

The Answer Is Balance

With these benefits and drawbacks in mind, we return to our thesis question: should your business use AI in customer service or stick with human employees? As with many things, the answer is… a bit of both. 

It’s true that AI can streamline your customer service process, providing satisfying customer interactions and eliminating repetitive tasks from employees’ duties. However, it’s best to supervise AI-based interactions regularly to ensure quality and effectiveness. Perform regular CX evaluations and follow up with customers to check satisfaction levels. Keep a number of staff members trained to handle service requests—even after a customer has already used the AI system. Ultimately, striking a strategic balance will yield the best results for your CX. 

How to Leverage AI for Customer Experience

With this in mind, what are the different ways that companies have been using AI in their customer service process? 

  • 24/7 Customer Support. AI-powered chatbots are an easy add-on for most modern websites, as well as on social media. They provide instant, automated responses to customer inquiries, regardless of the time of day. This ensures customers always have access to some level of support. 
  • Automated Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Use an AI to manage a dynamic FAQ section that updates itself based on the most common customer inquiries. This takes a huge workload off of human employees. 
  • Transactional Assistance. AI virtual assistants can help customers track their orders, as well as handle cancellations, returns, and exchanges. This streamlines interactions and provides timely updates and support for customers. 
  • Lead Generation and Qualification. Combine AI lead generation with other marketing strategies like cold email to collect and qualify potential new customers. This optimizes your sales funnel and ensures follow-up on high-quality leads. 
  • Customer Onboarding and Training. Use AI to create interactive onboarding processes for new customers. It can guide them through account setup, product usage, and follow-ups, as well as answer any initial questions. 
  • Predictive AI Customer Service. Obviously, one of the most popular uses of AI is to predict potential issues based on customer data and behavior patterns. For example, if a customer’s subscription is about to expire, AI can send automated reminders or offer renewal incentives. 
  • Social Media Monitoring and Engagement. Another use of AI customer service is to monitor and respond to any social media mentions of your brand automatically. This helps maintain a strong online presence and ensures that customers are promptly addressed. 

Of course, there are many more opportunities to implement AI in your business’s operations. Be on the lookout for the newest uses!

Implementing AI in Your Customer Service Strategy

If you’re new to the AI customer service game, here are a few tips for getting started. 

First, assess your needs. Identify specific areas where AI can add value to your customer service operations. If it ain’t broke, it might not need fixing. On the other hand, there’s always a chance to improve. 

Next, choose the right tools for the job. There are a wide variety of AI programs and platforms available, each with its strengths (and weaknesses). Research and select the tools that best align with your business needs and objectives. 

Then, once you commit, you’ll want to take the time to ensure your AI solutions integrate smoothly with your existing systems and workflows. Like with most good things, your new AI customer service will take some effort to get up and running. But it’s always better to measure twice and cut once. 

After it’s set up, you’ll want to train your team—and create an onboarding program for new employees as they come in. While AI can handle many tasks independently, human oversight is still essential. Your customer service team should be able to work alongside AI tools and leverage them to enhance performance. 

Finally, make sure to regularly review the performance of your AI systems and make adjustments as necessary. Use customer feedback and analytics to make strategic decisions… even if that decision is to stop using a particular AI. 

AI Customer Service Could Be the Tool Your CX Needs

AI customer service is transforming the way businesses interact with customers. Proponents boast its numerous benefits, including 24/7 availability, cost savings, and increased efficiency. However, it's essential to recognize and address the potential drawbacks. These include the lack of human touch, technical issues, and ethical concerns. 

For small to mid-size businesses, the key to unlocking the full potential of AI lies in striking a balance between automation and human oversight. By thoughtfully integrating AI into your customer service strategy, you can enhance customer satisfaction, streamline operations, and ultimately drive your business forward. Embrace the future with a balanced approach to AI—and watch your customer experience soar.