Anxieties, and fantasies, over the large-scale automation of jobs have long overshadowed every industry and sector. As virtual personal assistants beginning to move into our home environments, ongoing developments in artificial intelligence continue to optimise our workplace processes, with Vodafone UK recently unveiling its new artificial intelligence-based customer service chatbot, TOBi, who will handle queries, troubleshoot and track orders.
With the breakneck pace of development in the automation sector there has been notable pushback against the domination of robotics in the workplace, with the general public fearing potential redundancy in the face of computerised competitors. Most recently, Bill Gates himself surprised the world when he proposed the taxation of robots in the workplace. The clash of innovation underway, and increasing public concerns, means that customer service organisations must carefully consider the consequences of automating tendencies in their own industries.
Fantasy vs reality
Though the tech around voice recognition and speech generation continues to improve, once this tech gains a firm hold in the home, its manifestation in customer service will be less valued. With chatbots available across platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, and devices like Alexa in our home, the figure of the human customer-facing service representative gains new value. It would be unrealistic to propose that companies will seek the replacement of human staff. Robotics and AI are more likely to be directed at easing the administrative burden on these human-fronted services, redirecting and deploying assets more effectively.
Relieving the burden
Instead of replacing a human workforce in areas where a customer-facing approach is needed, AI is much more likely to be utilised as a tool that augments a call centres’ management of incoming calls and queries. Acting as an introductory layer to the customer, the administrative AI can optimise the distribution of incoming calls to most effectively utilise call centre agents. AIs can not only redirect mistaken calls and easily resolved issues, but can also quickly find and archive customer data, freeing up time for the agent.
Change is inevitable, but a combination of a positivity and realistic conceptions can help ensure this change is for the better, and that it is met in an advantageous manner. AI in the world of customer service does not mean replacement, but relief from unnecessary burdens.