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How to be Empathetic to your Customer with AI

By Matt Rocco, President & CEO, Etech Global Services

Matt Rocco, President & CEO, Etech Global Services

As technology continues to advance, artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming more pervasive in the customer service industry, but how do you get the most out of it while providing the best possible experience for your clients? While some businesses choose to use AI as the initial gatekeeper for requests from new and existing customers, this strategy often ends up backfiring due to a lack of rapport between human being and machine. Here’s an overview of this technology, and a look at the types of scenarios where it’s a perfect fit.

"Artificial intelligence may be able to emulate simple human interaction, but it can’t begin to understand the feelings behind a customer’s statements."

The Role of Empathy in Customer Service

Empathy refers to the ability of one person to share and understand another person’s feelings, and it’s a large part of a positive customer experience. When an unsatisfied client calls in because of a problem with goods or services, it’s up to the call center worker to imagine how the customer feels and use language designed to assuage concerns. Customers are more likely to deal with a company that doesn’t appear to be taking their business for granted, and empathy is one of the key tools used by successful service representatives.

Computers Think Differently Than Humans

While computers are remarkable pieces of technology capable of performing billions of operations every second, there are some limits to their abilities. Artificial intelligence may be able to emulate simple human interaction, but it can’t begin to understand the feelings behind a customer’s statements. This is why it’s best to use AI as a tool to solve basic problems:

• Troubleshooting
• Appointment scheduling
• Past order lookup

In contrast to the black and white world of simple problem solving, empathic solutions combine a number of different factors to resolve a customer’s issues. A human ear listens to the client’s concerns and tries to understand the greater context in an effort to work together towards a desirable solution. As an example, if an older client can’t physically perform a troubleshooting solution, the empathic thing to do is find a less strenuous way to do it. While a human being can perform this task with ease, it’s simply beyond the capabilities of a computer.

Using AI to Create Empathy

If AI can’t accurately recreate the emotional sensitivity of a human being, how can it be used as part of an excellent customer service experience? Instead of thinking of artificial intelligence as an answering service, consider using it to get the most out of your call center system. By using this technology to sort through recordings of your calls, it’s like having thousands of supervisors poring over customer complaints. When patterns of dissatisfaction start to emerge, you can take action to educate your workers on how to avoid repeating the same situations.

You Need a Human Element

Now you know more about the importance of empathy in a customer service environment, you can hopefully understand why you should always have human beings acting as the initial point of contact. While the steady evolution of technology may allow this to change in the future, your present-day customers deserve a level of empathy that can only be provided by another person.

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