Will Customer Service be Replaced by Robots?
What colors our imaginations? When it comes to our concepts of artificial intelligence and robots, how much of it is affected by what we’ve seen on TV and in the movies, from The Matrix to Blade Runner? Beyond that, how prominent is the fear of automation taking jobs from humans? Evidently, it has been a very real thing, ever since the Luddites first destroyed textile mills in early 19th century England.
In the contemporary work climate, the main occupational friction between human and machine is happening in the digital sphere. With the ever-increasing power of AI capabilities, automation now frequently resides over previously human-reliant functions, such as customer service. From airport check-in kiosks to chatbots, “robots” are here to stay. But are they also set to replace their human counterparts in customer service and customer support?
In a word, no. The human element is still an integral part of a great customer service experience.
Bots are Partners, Not Adversaries
Web-based customer service would be significantly diminished today if not for chatbots and guide bots. These conversational bots are built for quick resolutions and routing customers to the information they are looking for. These bots aren’t out to take anyone’s job, though. If anything, these bots may likely increase human employment when looked at in the long haul.
According to the data gathered by TeamSupport, there is a perceptible increase in a business’ success if they implement chatbots on their website. The success is most measurable in retention and increased revenue, whether by repeat customers or proactive chat for sales. While that doesn’t always neatly fit into the customer service chatbot paradigm, it does indicate that bots operate more as an augmentation to human jobs, rather than an abatement.
Chatbot usage typically results in business growth, and therefore a growth in the amount of employees. Instead of Blade Runner android replicants, think Star Wars R2-D2 types – helpers not hinderers.
TeamSupport’s chatbot growth data for 2020-2021
- Growth of Overall Revenue: 27.32%
- Growth of Agent Employment: 7.46%
Customers without chatbots
- Growth of Overall Revenue: 5.06%
- Growth of Agent Employment: 4.46%
Be More Human – Let the Robots Be Robots
Regardless of whether or not a human is performing routine and robotic tasks, they’re still just that – robotic. When a customer service representative has to answer the same queries over and over, they’re not relishing the very human experience of critical thinking and exploring outside-the-box solutions.
Instead of yanking support agents out of their seats, automation for customer service is designed to soak up these routine tasks, and free up their human counterparts to use their organic brain to a much greater extent.
The automated capabilities of chatbots soak up routine and cumbersome tasks, letting agents focus on tasks that require uniquely human skills. When freed from mindless and repetitive tasks, CSMs can now experience greater creativity and satisfaction with their work.
Customer Service Needs the Human Experience
Customer service is an old profession – if you want repeat customers you’ll be sure to provide them the best experience. An automated customer support solution can go very far – it can answer routine questions, triage customer requests, and sometimes outright provide customers exactly what they need.
However, if a customer question or request requires a special human touch to do something a bot can’t do, such as provide specified assistance that goes beyond the capabilities of automation technology, then the human touch is necessitated.
But going a few steps further, it may be possible in the near future for bots to perform these customer service tasks that they previously couldn’t. If a bot can perform all customer service tasks, then wouldn’t humans be essentially doomed in the customer service or help desk work space? Not necessarily.
There will always be demand for authenticity, and as technology has progressed, a demand for authentic experience and the human touch has remained. If anything, it has become even more demanded given recent calls for reducing humanity (such as recent calls for “plugging in” human brains to the internet).
As long as a desire to “be more human” continues to exist in our collective lives, customer service will continue to require humans, they just might be working more closely with robot colleagues.