It wasn’t that long ago that people took it for grated they would speak to another live person when they called the customer service department or the main phone number for a business. However, corporate growth and the explosion of technology have pushed many organizations towards using artificial intelligence (AI) when communicating with customers on the phone or online. Companies have now grown beyond just using automated telephone prompts with the ability to recognize voice.

The modern version of AI can now conduct live chats, automatically send emails, route customer phone calls, and much more. In fact, a recent marketing industry research study indicates that more than half of all contact centers in the United States use some form of AI. In the future, additional contact centers as well as various other types of businesses will begin to incorporate AI.

A 2016 survey by Accenture Technology Vision indicates that more than two-thirds of business executives express interest is using AI. This is up significantly just since 2014. It’s obvious to see that the American workforce must embrace this new era of AI technology to remain competitive. AI is here to stay, and it will have a significant impact on the way people in business communicate in the future. Here’s how we think that is going to happen.

AI and Online Customer Service

chatbot communication aiIf you have visited any website lately, it’s likely that you noticed the appearance of a chat bot. It might seem as though a real person made that happen, but the reality is that it’s more than likely a conversation powered by AI. The company whose website you visited had a programmer create automated responses based on some of the most frequent questions that customers ask. This is just one example of how businesses use AI to provide online customer support.

AI used in a customer support role online is widely accepted by most people. It’s also much more advanced than it was in the beginning. For example, AI-powered chat boxes can answer common and straightforward questions such as the physical location of the business.

Facebook was one of the first online companies to grow beyond using AI to answer basic questions to employing approximately 11,000 chat bots in their email app called Messenger. These AI-powered chat bots allow users of Facebook to perform a wide range of tasks such as finding a movie that matches their interests to requesting pizza delivery.

How AI Improves the Customer Experience

Customer service departments that use AI can expect to see many benefits. For starters, it’s far cheaper to employ AI than a live operator. The cost is 25 cents per call using AI versus up to $20 when a person answers the phone. When AI handles calls with common inquiries, it frees up the human staff to attend to other duties and spend more time with people who need it. Businesses can count on AI to handle many common requests from customers. This leads to less time on hold and live agents who answer calls feeling more refreshed and ready to serve the customer.

Possible Drawback with Incorporating AI into Customer Service

Human interactions come with a variety of subtleties that AI cannot yet interpret. Without the human element present, it can be challenging for companies to create and manage real customer relationships. Ultimately, this could affect loyalty to the brand. AI doesn’t presently know how to handle human emotions as well as social norms, empathy, and other types of human interactions. This can cause big problems for a business, which Microsoft learned the hard way in 2016.

chat botThat year, the company used AI to create a chat bot that spoke like a typical 19-year-old American woman. Microsoft targeted the bot to the 18 to 24-year-old demographic on several social media sites. It wasn’t long before the bot began repeating racists messages and political statements that it picked up from the conversation of America’s young adults. Tech engineers quickly learned that it isn’t necessary for bots to repeat all types of human interactions and that they need to get better at choosing only the good stuff.

Many industry analysts predict that it will be difficult to distinguish a bot from a human in the future. Until then, they work alongside each other and try to provide the most useful information for those they serve.

AI in Brand Compliance and Communication

Developers of AI hope that it can prevent errors made by real people. Mistakes happen because human beings are alive as well as often unpredictable and emotional. A person may grow angry when dealing with a difficult customer while an AI-powered bot can respond appropriately without the risk of inserting angry emotions. It’s also possible that the live agent could have things going on in his or her life that make it difficult to deal with people in general. It wouldn’t take much for a customer to push this person’s buttons. Unfortunately, this can lead to disastrous consequences and a tarnishing of the brand image.

The benefit of AI is that it has no human emotions or life stress that could interfere with providing excellent customer service even under trying circumstances. Programmers can ensure that it properly reads and responds to certain scenarios, phrases or keywords while remaining compliant with established company guidelines. While it’s possible that miscommunication may still take place, using AI eliminates the possibility of an emotional outburst.

Personalized Content and Automated Content Creation

AI is extremely useful for creating both personalized and automated content. One example is the written article that is easy for anyone to dissect mathematically. The Associated Press currently uses AI to create reports for minor league baseball teams as well as earning reports. It also uses AI to produces approximately 3,500 earning reports every quarter along with more than 10,000 recaps of minor league baseball games.

The potential for AI goes beyond the Associated Press to using it to produce marketing materials, press releases, and other types of communication for business. With AI automation, businesses can quickly produce personalized content in advertising, marketing, media, and more. This is expected to have significant consequences for the public relations industry since AI can find detailed data that continually provides personalized content to a specific audience.

The combination of big data and AI could create new opportunities in customer service, public relations, media, and marketing that seem beyond the realm of possibility right now but will be commonplace in the future.