Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology is being touted by news outlets and financial markets alike as the future of industries across the board, including Customer Service. But what does it mean for the present? While there are many benefits to embracing the advancements in AI, some may argue that the technology is not ready to supplant the value of the human touch—at least not in every case.
As consumers, it is easy to notice that lots of vendors have embraced AI technology and moved their customer service models away from live help. While there are apparent reasons to do this in certain circumstances (e.g., in highly commoditized, low-margin businesses that are trying to achieve convenience and speed), this is not a one-size-fits-all approach. It is critical that the priorities and values of an organization guide the customer service strategy—including when and how AI technologies are harnessed.
As a customer-driven organization, it is important to CCC to provide a full 360-degree customer experience. We want to ensure our customers always feel supported—in any capacity they choose. According to the 2023 State of Customer Experience Report, Customer Experience is “the new competitive battlefield”—and for the sake of our customers—we strive to offer the very best. Part of that experience is offering 24 x 7 live help.
Some Tasks Are More Nuanced: While the chat bots of today are incredibly useful for a number of tasks, some questions and requests are just too nuanced. As almost every consumer—regardless of industry—will agree, it can be frustrating trying to ask your question—either over the phone or via chat—only for a machine to give you a canned answer that is unrelated to your issue. If our chat bots cannot immediately answer a customer’s question, we like knowing that our representatives are standing by to help 24 x 7. They are easy to contact and there are no hoops to jump through to reach them.
Using a Chat Bot Should Be an Option (Not a Requirement): We pride ourselves on being a customer-driven organization and on providing the best possible customer experience (CX) for our clients. Chat bots can be incredibly useful—especially for straightforward questions and requests and when the best possible experience a customer can have is almost no experience at all. But, at times, customers understandably prefer to speak to a person on the other end of the line, and in those instances, we want to ensure they have that option. For CCC, providing options—whether it is chat bots, email support, or live over-the-phone help—means that we are providing our customers with their preferred experience at every turn.
We Care About Our Customers and Value Their Trust: We have found that when our customers are faced with a more complex need, they often prefer to speak to a person rather than a machine. Have you ever searched for a Customer Service number on a website only to be directed to a chat bot or other automated form? When there is no direct line of communication to Customer Service—or when that direct line is difficult to access—customers get frustrated and lose trust in an organization. In fact, this study from the Harvard Business School by Michelle A. Shell and Ryan W. Buell demonstrates that customers even feel anxiety when they’re unable to connect with a real person. Customers want to know they are heard, they want to know they matter, and, at CCC, they do. Our customers appreciate how accessible our service team is. A customer-focused organization must always keep these lines of communication open—even if it comes at a greater cost.
Companies that have continued to offer live customer service distinguish themselves as reliable, honest, trustworthy organizations that put their customers’ needs above all else. They ensure that their customers, as their most important stakeholders, have direct and easy access to them at all times.
While our investment in AI technology has measurably improved the service we provide to our customers, we are not ready to hand over the reins just yet because our commitment to our customers goes beyond what AI chatbots can offer today. AI might be the future of Customer Service, but it is not our present. Our people are essential in delivering an outstanding customer experience.