Are Humans Replaceable? Don’t Think So

The thought that one day humans will be replaced by some algorithm driven AI tool, when it comes to customer service disturbs me, but considering that I would be called a stone-age man if I don’t acknowledge this. It makes me think – is it really feasible?

The answer to my question seems to be dangling between a perpetual growth between technology and the concept that no machine can ever replace the emotional quotient of a human being.

Use of AI or RPA (I say a distant older cousin of AI) in customer service is trending, however saying that it will remove human interaction completely is something that is certainly not happening (at least not in a future that would be seen by me and perhaps my grandchildren too).

Now, we all know that a pre-programmed algorithm or/and AI tool can certainly accelerate the process of finding a train ride for you between stations, which you usually travel and can also recognize that you are trying to find information about a train that has been cancelled. However, what about the emotional connect? Well, nobody can program that in a bot yet (unless we count movies like Bicentennial Man and the likes as an evidence).

How would an AI engine understand the stress and empathize with a customer, who has missed the train to meet his/her grandchildren or the agony of the person who ordered food but was not able to eat it as he has to leave home and food delivery got late. Only a person can understand the emotions and feelings associated with such instances. I being a consumer would like to listen to reassuring words from the mouth of a human being when I want my phone to be replaced urgently, as I am travelling and would have no connects with my family.

Nevertheless, this does not deny the fact that future of customer service would be AI driven. Forrester is predicting a 300% increase in AI investments in 2017 compared to 2016 and IDC believes AI will be a $47 billion market by 2020.

AI in customer service environment can provide seamless, structured, and quick resolution to the customer and can give logical choices but in high-stress situations we would need human connect. A person who has got a wrong airline ticket or lost his luggage would like to talk to a human rather than to a machine. The emotions flowing at that time would be too much and a machine would only aggravate it.

So what is the verdict?

Well AI is certainly the future and should be included in customer service scenarios but it could act as a reagent to human interactions by providing quick, logical, and accurate information as customers want to get their issues resolved with the least amount of work on their part. For the foreseeable future, AI engine cannot replace human conversation and can make fine judgment based on customer interaction and usage pattern but cannot understand the human mind (and in most of the cases heart).

AI revolution is happening and no one can afford to miss the train but for the conceivable future we would need a human powered with AI tools and technology to solve customer issues hassle free and promptly.

About the author

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Shrinivas Pandey, Business Consultant - BPS

Shrinivas Pandey has been part of Tech Mahindra BPS (formerly BSG) for the last 9 years.

He is a Business Consultant in BPS Marketing and handles the Analyst & Advisory function.

It has been an eventful and learning 9 years for him and he always looks for opportunities to understand the nuances of the outsourcing business more comprehensively.