Artificial intelligence is the most popular buzzword these days, and it should answer all questions. Every day, newer and better versions and tools are being developed, conferences, series of articles, specialised companies are devoted to it, and expectations are constantly rising.
One of the most frequently mentioned areas in the business world when it comes to artificial intelligence is customer service. Robots save time and money, share information faster and work more efficiently. In other words, employing artificial intelligence in customer service pays off. But is cost-effectiveness a sufficient reason for change?
I spent thirteen years in the UK before moving back to Lithuania and becoming the head of the Civinity Group. Automated apps that generate answers to frequently asked questions are far from new in Lithuania, and they were established in Western countries even earlier. I saw that the international business world had been expecting a breakthrough in this area for some time. We are seeing it now: it is predicted that the popularity of chatbots will grow tenfold in the coming years.
But do we really know what our customers think? Good service, understanding, responsiveness and effective problem solving are the most direct route to success for any business. It is therefore essential that we think not only about efficiency, but also about empathy when discussing the future of customer communication.
A study carried out by customer data platform Treasure Data in the US earlier this year revealed an interesting trend: in general, we are still more likely to interact with other humans than robots, but this is also very much domain-specific.
For example, participants in the study were pleased that services such as hailing a taxi, buying a flight ticket or banking transactions are fully automated. Shopping is increasingly becoming a remote, human-free activity. The main reason for ordering goods or services online is convenience and not wanting to interact with people.
However, the statistics are quite different when it comes to doctors or any services related to the maintenance, furnishing and improvement of the home. In these areas, the participants in the study want to interact with living people.
The main reasons for this are: better understanding of the customer’s problem, more detailed explanations and a wider range of possible solutions. Very logical – we would probably get similar answers if we surveyed the Lithuanian population. In areas that are particularly sensitive to us, we want human care, personal attention and empathy.
This statistic is rather ironic given that another experiment carried out earlier this year showed that the artificial intelligence app ChatGPT is not only able to make more accurate diagnoses based on the symptoms reported by patients, but also to do so with more empathy than real doctors.
Customer service is therefore one of the most important areas for business success, and with the constant development of artificial intelligence, it is able to answer customer questions more efficiently and sensitively, but in areas that are sensitive to us, we still want to talk to other people, not machines. What business decisions should we make with all this information?
“The Civinity Group looks after the homes of tens of thousands of people. It also takes care of offices and many other spaces where we spend virtually all our lives. Customer service and a good customer experience must be our top priority – that is my vision for the future.
Recognising that the issues our customers face often require personal attention and a flexible, innovative approach, and above all genuine concern, but also quick response and efficient action, we need to combine the strengths of AI and humans.
AI solutions will allow us to quickly and efficiently identify problems and offer optimal solutions to recurring problems, while our team members will be able to delve deeper into individual situations, find innovative solutions and provide a genuinely attentive customer service, as robots have eliminated a large part of the technical work.
So, if we care about our customers, let’s not leave them in the care of AI, but learn to work with it to ensure the highest possible customer satisfaction.
In June this year, Virgeda Jackaitė joined Civinity, one of the largest building maintenance and engineering solutions groups in the Baltics.