Updated: Mar 16, 2020
We can't upload Johnny Depp up in the Cloud ever again. Real humans are the only true help you’ll get.
With the recent advancements in technology, you’d think we’d have AI customer support all figured out by now. Didn’t Hollywood movies already knocked that bit about enslaving the human race down? Just program them to never be allowed to harm humans. Problem solved! If we had AI to take care our daily problems, things would be so much easier for all of us, wouldn’t it?
Listen. We’ve all been there. Something happens to this new item you’ve purchased. A paid-for service isn’t as promised. Maybe there was a small confusion in one of your bills. Little things you know can be solved with one call or e-mail away. What with so much to do in your life but so little time, do you even want to be bothered having to talk to someone? Maybe you can just Google the answer to most problems that would have left you scratching your head back in the times such things didn’t exist. Or rather than speak with some customer care specialist, maybe you can just talk to the robot on the phone line so you can bypass the questions and the annoying music they have when you’re put on hold. Why don’t we just use those all the time, anyway?
AI Customer Support has been a growing trend for the past few years. But it won’t be replacing the human on the other line of the call you were about to make anytime soon. In fact, they most likely won’t, period.
A computer or robot and the programming encoded within it can certainly understand your urgency and importance. But the lines of codes it is built upon has a series of 'ifs and thens' it will have to follow. Unlike humans, it will have no initiative to go another mile for you. So for the simpler things, pre-prepared answers and solutions can certainly be arranged. But when it comes to situations requiring empathy and understanding, no AI will step in for a human customer support specialist.
AI will understand that you’re asking to change the due date of a bill or that the flight you booked for was canceled. However, it won’t understand that you missed a couple of workdays due to a medical or family emergency. It certainly won’t be able to book you another flight just because you have a big and important meeting cross-country tomorrow morning.
The thing of it is, Artificial Intelligence built for Customer Service purposes are all about doing and not thinking. More about efficiency than authenticity. They will have to follow the strict rules and guidelines they had been provided. What about Siri or Alexa? They’re AI, right? Yes, they are. Siri and Alexa are examples of Narrow AIs.
Narrow AIs comprise of programs delegated to simple tasks and learning how to repeat those in a more efficient manner the next time around. They are actually considered as “Weak” AIs. “Strong” AI have proven difficult to complete as they have the challenge of replicating human thinking. If you’ve watched sci-fi movies like “I, Robot” where humans are able to communicate and interact with conscious, sentient and self-aware machines, then you know what a Strong AI is. We have yet been able to create a living consciousness that can, not only learn, but feel. We may very well be decades away from such marvels, if it happens at all. For the meantime then, what we have our living, breathing, and feeling fellow human beings to serve our daily customer care needs. And they will understand and care about your concerns.
But what about smaller businesses? Not everyone can afford customer service. Do they still need an entire team of customer care specialists or can one program take care of things the FAQs?
Essentially, there are those who will work cheaper and provide an image of care for your customers. You don’t need to rent an entire building and hire a full staff. Nowadays, Customer Service Specialists can also work from home just like most freelance virtual assistants do. They can work as a remote office assistant just like most virtual admins. They have the added benefit of knowing how to interact with the people you want to be your most loyal customers. Some can even offer virtual administrative assistant services as well. They can work either via call, chat or e-mail just like in a regular call center.
Customer Care Specialists are all about being flexible and have great communication skills. They need to be intuitive and able to work with minimal supervision. Preferably easy and fast to train. Creative with their solutions and comfortable with multi-tasking. These are all basic skills any reliable virtual assistant must have as their foundation. Which is why it is great to hire them. It would be like hitting two birds in one stone for people who are still building their path on to success.