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AI Offers a Competitive Advantage for Customer Service


Customer service has always been a point of contention for many companies. Who hasn't experience long wait times, rude agents and a never-ending cycle of button pushing -- only to be disconnected before an issue is resolved?

The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated the problem, as contact centers scramble to operate through staffing shortages and a new remote work environment. And yet poor customer service may be more of a systemic, underlying issue rather than a symptom of COVID-19.

KPMG estimates 94 percent of Fortune 1000 companies have experienced COVID-19 business disruptions. The firm emphasizes that the way businesses engage and interact with customers is critical during these "unprecedented" times, and that integrity and empathy are major assets for any customer service team.

Beyond human empathy and compassion, businesses can embrace technology to handle some of the added burden on customer service teams. Artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and automation all have integral roles to play in any customer service strategy. And while technology certainly can't take the place of human empathy and understanding, it can help streamline call flows, offer actionable intelligence and business insights and improve the overall customer experience.

In cases where customers want quick answers to basic questions, AI is invaluable. Chatbots, virtual assistants and intelligent call routing and automation may all be used to minimize call volume and improve customer satisfaction and turnaround times.

AI assistants can also be useful for directing customer inquiries while using natural language processing to gain insight into customers' moods and behaviors. If the AI assistant is not able to resolve an issue, it can also escalate the call to the appropriate human agent, expediting the entire resolution process.

Finally, AI, analytics and machine learning may be used to help agents throughout a customer interaction. Technology can provide real-time information about customer history and preferences, as well as acting as a "coach" for human agents who may be at a loss for words.

The COVID-19 pandemic has already had a serious impact on a majority of global businesses. Now it's more important than ever to differentiate and offering excellent customer service is an ideal way to achieve that. AI technology tools can provide a competitive advantage for businesses that wish to distinguish themselves during these unprecedented times.

To learn more about how AI and automation are changing the customer service landscape, TMC is hosting its  Future of Work Expo from June 22-25, 2021, at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The show will examine how AI and machine learning can improve customer service, the contact center, business applications and more.

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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