Artificial Intelligence in Customer Service

There’s no arguing with chatbots, they will always have the last word. A few years back, I called my cable company to complain about the problems I was having with my service.  After listening to mind numbing music for what seemed like an eternity, I finally heard a voice say, “How may I help you.” On cue, I instantly launched into my long list of grievances.  By the time I drilled down to complaint number three, I realized something was odd about the voice on the other end of the phone.

It was eerily flat with no warmth or inflection—kind of like the robot in the movie Lost in Space. But, as I struggled to wrap my mind around this unexpected and perplexing encounter, two things were certain. I was firmly planted on the sofa in my living room, and I was not young Penny Robinson who innocently wandered into villains and unknown dangers.

Yet, even after I made countless requests to speak to someone human, the detached voice insisted that I select from one of endless options and push the right number. In frustration, I hung up the phone and vowed to resume my fight for a clear picture and strong signal another day. So, goes my first experience with Artificial Intelligence or AI.

Tapping into Artificial Intelligence

Today, advances in NLU (natural language understanding) and conversation systems have rapidly expanded the use of AI in the area of customer service.
By 2020, Gartner research estimates artificial intelligence bots will power 85% of customer service interactions. This is especially true for retail and financial industries. By 2025 Artificial Intelligence will be a $37 billion industry.

So, what does all of this mean to you, the home improvement retailer? That depends on the size and complexity of your business and how you choose to integrate this emerging technology into your store’s day-to-day operation and e-commerce business.

Turning the Volume Down on Calls

Chatbots are fully capable of answering basic questions and giving satisfactory answers to callers who need quick answers and don’t want to spend much time waiting on the phone. These systems may be an option for multi-store chains and big operation whose staff frequently answer routine calls throughout the day. Your employees can now focus on assisting customers who are already shopping in the store without being distracted by incoming calls.

Saying Yes to Smart Speakers

Are you using satellite radio for your in-store music? Consider leveraging the power and convenience of smart speakers. These voice-powered Artificial Intelligence systems are designed to engage with human speech and can instantly play specific songs and genres of music upon request. While many of us are already using this technology in our homes, it can also be a smart, money-saving option for small businesses who want to easily manage the musical selections being played as customers shop.

Voice Search Changes the Game

Over 80% of shoppers use mobile devices to find out what products are in-stock at local stores, research products and check reviews. By 2020 more than 50% of these searches will be voice searches. This will dramatically change how search engines locate and identify the types of products and services businesses offer. This new reality makes it essential to have a mobile-friendly website to grow e-commerce sales. Whether in-store or online, customers shop with businesses that interact with them on a personal level and who help them make purchases quickly and easily.

Taking Control

Innovations that incorporate Artificial Intelligence are interwoven into the fabric of our lives. Simply consider AIs impact on social media, mobile apps, education, government and business. At times it may feel like a lost cause to keep track of it all.  But, it’s up to you to decide the best use of technology in your business. Ultimately, the key to success is making customers feel special by offering them exceptional service every time they shop your business.


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