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What Generative-Powered AI Can and Can’t Do for Customer Service

There have been some fascinating developments in the world of customer service and contact centres over the past few years and even in recent months. There are a variety of reasons for these, but the rapid evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) has had a significant effect.

Among the different branches of AI, generative-powered AI shines as a powerful tool that uses cutting-edge algorithms to generate responses that simulate human interactions. It would seem, then, that this kind of tech would be ideal for a contact centre when it comes to improving levels of customer service, but there are limits. Let’s look into them and see just what generative-powered AI can and can’t do for customer service.

How Can Generative-Powered AI Improve Contact Centres?

As businesses strive to provide exceptional customer service and experiences, they’re realising that huge importance must be placed on efficient and personalised support. Enter generative-powered AI, a completely new way of doing things that offers organisations the chance to reimagine their contact centres and take their service to the next level. By harnessing the power of AI, companies can streamline their operations, speed up response times, and ensure consistently high-quality service. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Here are some more details about the benefits of using generative-powered AI customer service.

Faster Response Times

One of the most useful aspects of generative-powered AI systems is that they can process an enormous number of customer enquiries at once and provide almost instant responses. This means customers get quick assistance when they want it, reducing waiting times and making them happier overall. With AI, contact centres can make the most of being as efficient as possible and handle high volumes of queries at the same time without any reduction in speed or quality.

Cross-Selling and Up-Selling Opportunities

Generative-powered AI can play a crucial role in driving upselling and cross-selling opportunities for businesses. By looking closely at customer data and purchase history, AI systems can identify relevant product recommendations and personalised offers. According to management consultants McKinsey, AI customer service can potentially bring in as much as $1 trillion more value for businesses annually in global banking alone. This growth mainly stems from the ability to revamp customer service accounts and make customers’ experiences more efficient and personalised.

24/7 Availability

Unlike human agents who need breaks and work in shifts, AI-powered systems can operate non-stop. Customers can now receive support at any time, day or night, meaning that accessibility is instantly improved and increased, which is a good thing for everyone. Generative-powered AI customer service ensures that customers’ needs are met quickly, even outside the usual working business hours.

Language Support

In a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected, businesses may need to help people from a wide range of different backgrounds and even countries. Generative-powered AI can effortlessly handle multiple languages, meaning that any customer who contacts you can get the support they need in a way they’ll definitely understand it. This makes the customer feel seen and understood, so they’ll feel more positive towards your business. Plus, it reduces the chances of misunderstandings that can happen when there is a language barrier.

Consistency and Accuracy

One of the many advantages of AI customer service systems is their ability to consistently provide accurate information. While human agents can make occasional mistakes or give inconsistent responses, AI-powered systems stick to predefined rules and guidelines, ensuring reliable – and standardised – customer interactions. This crucial reliability builds trust and confidence in consumers, strengthening the relationship between your brand and your customers. When this happens, not only will those customers be happy to return and use your organisation again, but they may recommend you to others, and this word-of-mouth advertising is priceless.

What are the Limitations of Generative-Powered AI in Contact Centres?

Everything stated above is valid, and demonstrates that generative-powered AI has a valuable position in the contact centres of today and the future. However, it’s vital to be aware that there are limitations when it comes to AI customer service. Here are some to consider.

Contextual Understanding

One significant issue is that AI systems may struggle when it comes to understanding complex or nuanced customer queries that need deep contextual understanding. While they might be fantastic at dealing with routine questions – the simplest queries – they might get “confused” by more complex inquiries and provide generic or even irrelevant responses. This is of concern for a number of reasons, the first being that your customers aren’t getting advice that will actually help them, and could even cause more problems, depending on the situation. The second issue is that if a customer knows they’re not receiving the right advice, they’ll become frustrated and dissatisfied.

Emotional Intelligence

One valuable aspect of human agents is that they’ll possess a certain level of emotional intelligence. Some will have more than others, but no matter what degree of emotional intelligence they have, they’ll still be able to empathise with customers and should be able to handle sensitive situations in the right way. Generative-powered AI lacks this innate ability to understand and respond to human emotions, making it challenging to provide the same level of emotional support and empathy that humans can offer. This can be a drawback when it comes to dealing with upset or angry customers who need more personalised attention.

Unpredictable Scenarios

AI customer service is great at dealing with predictable scenarios, but it can struggle with unique or unexpected situations. Customers with complex or uncommon issues might require more human intervention to give them a satisfactory solution. While AI can definitely enhance the support that a human agent can give, it’s vital to know where the limits lie so you can determine which customers can be satisfied by AI and which need the human touch.

Lack of Domain Expertise

Generative-powered AI customer service systems can lack the deep understanding that comes with domain expertise, particularly in more niche areas. While they can effectively handle general customer enquiries, they may find it challenging when faced with a situation they don’t have knowledge of, or an aspect of an industry that is very specific. In these cases, human agents with specialised training and experience are the better option.

How to Overcome These Limitations

Now that you understand the pros and cons of using AI customer service systems in your contact centre, you’ll have a choice to make. Do you want to give AI customer service a trial and see what can be achieved? If not, you can stop reading here. But if the answer is yes, then it’s a good idea to know how to be aware of how AI limitations can be overcome. As 91% of business leaders in 2022 reported having an AI strategy for their organisations, yes is most likely the appropriate answer.

Use A Hybrid Approach

By implementing a hybrid model that combines generative-powered AI with human agents, you can strike the right balance between automation and the human touch. AI systems can efficiently handle routine enquiries, freeing up human agents to focus on more complex and emotionally charged situations. This means that customers receive the personalised attention they need but can also benefit from the speed and efficiency of AI-powered automation.

Continuous Training and Improvement

Regularly updating and fine-tuning AI models with real-time data can enhance their contextual understanding and improve their ability to take on more complex questions. Ongoing training means that AI can stay up to date with customers’ changing needs, giving accurate and relevant responses. Of course, this can take some time and may require some investment, but this could be a worthwhile outlay.

Escalation Paths

When you have clear escalation paths in place, you can ensure customers are able to go from AI to human agent seamlessly when it’s necessary, for example, during a complex case that needs in-depth knowledge. When there is a delineated path to easily escalate a case, you can enjoy the benefits of both AI and human agents, and the customer will have a better experience too.

Final Thoughts

Generative-powered AI has the potential to massively improve and enhance contact centres and the customer service they provide. However, the implementation must be carried out carefully. Jason Roos, CEO of Cirrus, said: “Generative-powered AI has undoubtedly transformed customer service by improving response times and availability. But the right balance has to be struck to ensure everyone can reap the rewards.”

By researching the applications of AI customer service and setting up ways to navigate any inherent limitations, generative-powered AI might be exactly what you need to transform your customer service.