Artificial Intelligence vs. Human Customer Support – Which One is Better?

Mathijs van der Kooi
Last updated: 7 Oct 2021

Artificial Intelligence vs. Human Customer Support – Which One is Better?

Mathijs van der Kooi
Last updated: 7 Oct 2021

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is helping automate more and more tasks at the workplace, including customer support. Conversational AI is so efficient that human operators are worried that it will replace them. However, AI and human operators both have strengths and limitations that make one preferable over the other in some situations. Here is an overview of how they compare in performance. 

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence-powered Customer Support

More and more companies are investing in AI-powered customer support because of the many benefits it has to offer. Some of the most notable benefits include:

  • Instant Response

virtual contact center assistant can handle thousands of customer queries simultaneously, and the response is instantaneous. In contrast, most human operators can handle only one query at a time. Ideally, large companies would need as many human customer support agents as they have customers to prevent customers from waiting in line.

Time is an integral factor in customer support. To this end, the main reason why customers prefer AI-powered customer support is that it is fast.

  • 24/7 Availability through Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence algorithms don’t need to rest or take the occasional break, unlike human operators. They are always available to answer customers’ queries. Many customers expect companies to respond as soon as they lodge a query, regardless of the time. This is especially common with e-commerce businesses and multinational companies with customers from different time zones.

  • Consistent Learning & Personalization

Conversational AI is advancing at an impressive pace. To this end, some of the most advanced AI-powered customer support algorithms come incredibly close to mimicking humans, including carrying on complex conversations. This is primarily the reason why more companies are confident enough to adopt Artificial Intelligence for customer support and other complex tasks.

Learning is one of the impressive capabilities of AI-powered customer support – this essentially means that AI-powered algorithms can learn from experience better and faster than human operators. Additionally, AI algorithms can identify customers and use their data to personalize their responses and services, resulting in a better customer experience.

  • Cost Saving

One AI-powered algorithm can handle thousands of queries simultaneously, as mentioned. In contrast, you would need hundreds or thousands of human operators to achieve the same level of efficiency. Additionally, human operators must be paid and need resources such as stationery to work, but AI-powered algorithms work tirelessly for free. To this end, AI-powered algorithms cost a fraction of the cost of hiring human operators.

When Human Operators Outshine Artificial Intelligence

AI-powered algorithms are more efficient than human operators, as established in the section above. However, they still have glaring shortcomings that can potentially compromise the customers’ experience. This is where human operators come in.

Human operators understand the human tone and can detect emotions such as anger or sadness, unlike AI. Additionally, human operators are empathetic and can tailor their response based on what the customer is feeling – in contrast, AI algorithms usually come off as cold and unempathetic, making the customers feel unappreciated.

Humans also understand cultural differences and sensitivities better than AI-powered algorithms. This is especially important today in the wake of a growing emphasis on diversity and inclusion. To this end, about 86% of customers still prefer human operators to chatbots. Although 90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have a customer service question. 60% of customers define “immediate” as 10 minutes or less. The queue for human assistance is – especially during peak hours – often longer, making conversational AI a better alternative.

The Best of Both

AI-powered algorithms are not replacing human beings in customer support. Instead, they are making the work easier, essentially functioning as the back-office help. To this end, human operators are still necessary for solving some of the more complex issues. To this end, many customer care solutions today employ the best of both by blending Artificial Intelligence and human customer support.

Final Thoughts

Human operators and AI-powered chatbots both have varying strengths and shortcomings. While Artificial Intelligence-powered algorithms are fast and efficient, they lack empathy and don’t understand human emotions. However, both solutions work incredibly well when combined. Get in touch to learn more about how you can leverage the best of both solutions.

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