AI could replace knowledge and creative experts faster than customer service personnel. Since OpenAI launched ChatGPT late last year, there has been speculation that the generative tech will enable firms to do away with people and cut costs by deploying chatbots to run the sales funnel, deliver customer service and generate marketing and communications activities.
Conversational AI models disrupted business models over 30 years ago, allowing firms to scale the delivery of basic customer service. Chatbots answer simple queries 24 x 7 and as they have improved in their capabilities, they are becoming a preferred first point of contact.
Why human aspect is still needed in customer service
Customers who now call a call centre or go into a store or branch are the customers that either don’t know what they should ask a chatbot, need advice or have a complicated issue to be resolved. Karen in the call centre is now the escalation expert and AI is the frontline.
The latest generation of conversational AI is generative, unlike traditional chatbots it creates original combinations of text as opposed to retrieving a consistent response to a question from a pre-defined programmed response. While AI generative content is remarkable in its human-like qualities, right now, Karen’s job is fairly safe; and here are the reasons why;
- Generative Chatbots can make mistakes; in customer service you want to give your customers consistent and accurate answers, not creative ones. It is better to provide no response or to escalate a customer to a real person than to create a response that is potentially problematic for the business,
- Generative Chatbots can’t give advice (especially financial advice) or discuss life goals and options; you don’t want AI telling a customer to do something that will negatively impact their financial position.
We know from previous research that consumers place a lot of trust in what technology tells them to do because it generally looks and sounds accurate. Hence businesses need to consider their liabilities in terms of what generative AI could instruct customers to do; and;
- Chatbots can’t help customers who ask incorrect questions or identify what the customer has misunderstood about a product or service. If customers are asking incorrect questions the AI will respond regardless, whereas a customer service agent can interrogate the customer to ensure their information and questions are accurate.
Artificial intelligence is a fast-evolving sector and there are already many ‘out of the box’ solutions being sold and utilised by businesses which range in quality and sophistication, but no artificial intelligence model can currently replicate the intelligence and reasoning of Karen.
While AI disrupted customer service decades ago it is now about to disrupt the more creative knowledge-based internal functions of businesses. And like customer service, generative AI will likely replace the simple creative functions that could benefit from speed of response, like:
- Summarising disparate information into simple a narrative,
- Generating basic code to complete specific tasks; and
- Generation of creative outputs that fit a desired tone and call to action.
What key issues should businesses look out for?
These capabilities have not been widely accessible at speed and low cost until now. But like the early chatbots of the 1990s, there will be problems. There are key issues that firms need to be aware of when considering AI for tasks like generating marketing communications.
Generative artificial intelligence can perpetuate discrimination and even amplify prejudices if it is created and trained on data that does not reflect or represent the broader community.
This particularly happens when there is a lack of diversity in the training dataset, insufficient data, misrepresentation in the data, or a failure to account for biases. And as a result, businesses that utilise third-party training datasets are especially vulnerable to these issues.
Generative AI never doubts itself and is not guided by caution when generating ideas. That little nagging feeling in the back of your mind often prevents people from taking a risk that could harm the firm. There have been many firms that have suffered reputational damage from poor advertising creative or poorly chosen comments on social media.
Therefore many AI-generated creative ideas will still require oversight by a human and won’t be automated the same way chatbots respond autonomously to requests. Generative AI can create many ideas in a short timeframe which will need to be reviewed and refined.
To generate an original piece of creative that talks to a human truth will require working with the artificial intelligence to inform and iterate the ideas. While ideas can be created quickly, unlike a traditional creative process it will lack the diversity of experience that a team of creative people can bring and is unlikely to create a completely original piece of content.
Generative AI currently creates originally structured output based on scouring a database of information. While it can transform that information it can’t generate new content that doesn’t exist. While the latest AI enables firms to absorb, interpret and generate creative ideas quickly using large volumes of data, the outcomes are still based on the parameters set by humans and lack human oversight that minimises risk of reputational damage.
If artificial intelligence is the new creative frontline then like Karen, creatives need to ensure they bring the high level expertise that can work with the generative outputs to deliver truly impactful and differentiated ideas that drive sales and strengthen brand reputation.
How Fifth Dimension’s Trust Model can help
Fifth Dimension’s groundbreaking and innovative trust model centres on the premise that trust in brands have its foundations laid in two traits – the capability of the brand to do what it promises and the character of the brand to operate in an honest and ethical manner.
Fail on both trust traits and brands risk ultimately losing a customer they have let down for life and weakening brand growth due to the legacy of a proven poor reputation.
Lyndall Spooner is the founder and CEO of Fifth Dimension Consulting.