Is that agent a machine or a human?
By Tim Houlne
ChatGPT is getting a lot of buzz.
People are drawn to the new chatbot featuring artificial intelligence (AI) that can produce articles, blogs, essays, and emails that appear as if they were written by professional writers. Humach sees this leap in technology as a way to improve CX through customer service AI. A common theme surrounding ChatGPT is the view that a reader can’t tell difference between prose written by a human and prose written by a machine.
And that scares people.
ChatGPT is a chatbot that was released to the public in late 2022 and it has been getting a lot of attention for its ability to craft blogs (like this one), news articles, poems, and even jokes that people can’t determine were written by a machine.
ChatGPT and other AI tools are ‘generative AI’ programs – part of the second wave of transformative AI – that now create content based on instructions and information we’ve provided. (i.e., ChatGPT, please write me a blog about making pancakes with information you find on the internet).
Generative AI is still emerging. Eventually, it will mature – as we tinker with it – but for now, it requires human intervention because, AI tools don’t possess the ability to create and to be original. It also lacks empathy and sympathy. Without those attributes, it’s difficult to generate a sense of expertise, authority, or trust.
Customer Service AI – A Major Proving Ground for AI Technology
AI tools are only as good as the information we give them. And for brands wanting to improve the service they provide customers, that is good news. For years, organizations have struggled to provide a consistent quality of service to their customers through various channels – phone calls, emails, chat, and social media. AI machines offer a refreshing alternative.
McKinsey & Co. estimates that 25% of work activities in the U.S. across all occupations could be automated by 2030. The consulting firm also estimates 60% of the 800 occupations listed by the Bureau of Labor Statistics could see a third of their activities automated over the coming decades.
A key to AI is the power of natural language processing and conversation analytics such as sentiment along with the availability of huge amounts of data to train algorithms, which has accelerated efforts to automate some jobs entirely.
But right now, AI’s biggest impact will be changing jobs rather than replacing them.
Technology has always promised to replace the drudgery of dull, manual tasks. It started on our farms where tractors and thrashers made harvesting easier. But we always needed someone to drive those machines. Today, machines or AI tools can perform some repetitive tasks such as data processing and password resets. Customer service AI holds the promise to handle these monotonous tasks.
Meet Your Branded Digital Agent
A maturing generative AI tool will allow our favorite companies to develop branded digital agents. In fact, we’ve begun. If you haven’t met her, Humach has its own customer service AI powered digital chatbot. Her name is Palmer Lane, and she is a tennis-playing dog lover and appreciates a great turn of phrase.
You can chat with Palmer on our website or visit her LinkedIn page. You can even send her an email at email@example.com. But she is not real.
Instead of a high-priced celebrity spokesperson, some brands may opt to create their own branded digital spokesperson who speaks in a dialect that resonates with their customers: a Cajun accent for a gumbo sauce or southern California lilt selling surfboard wax. A digital spokesperson/agent will never step out of line socially or embarrass the company. And that same voice will greet customers when they call, chat, or email their favorite brands.
And will consumers know the difference? Or will they care?
AI can be a great tool in helping to create memorable and lasting experiences for customers. In today’s world where individuals crave personalized service more than ever, the good news for us humans is there continue to be critical functions for live agents. No technology can duplicate the human’s ability to interpret information and process it to solve problems. However, a combination of human interaction coupled with advanced technology is a recipe for success.
Consumers won’t be satisfied with yesterday’s technology. Companies delivering customer experiences, like contact centers need deep, data-driven insights to truly know their customers and they need AI-powered automation to truly serve them. It’s impossible to achieve this with outdated thinking on the contribution of customer service AI technology.