customer support

The future of customer support is AI-human collaboration

Photo of Mikayla Fuller
by   Mikayla Fuller
June 16, 2023

Influx has built support teams for more than 300 high-growth brands in the US, Australia, and Europe. We hire, train, and empower a remote community with the top 1% of customer support agents, spread over 120+ cities. Learn more abouthow it works

AI is infiltrating every industry and transforming the way we work. What does this mean for human-lead customer support? And does this mean we should immediately adapt? Well, not exactly. Let’s look at the facts.

AI is not a substitute for humans

Companies that recently replaced human-powered support with artificial intelligence are now backpedaling. Take bad customer satisfaction (CSAT) situations, for example. Instances like giving the wrong information to a customer or striking the wrong tone is a frustrating experience for customers simply looking for answers. Chatbots can make the situation worse when it comes to complex problems requiring in-depth levels of decision-making and communication. 

There are obvious benefits to chatbots—productive, fast interactions that can reduce cost—but there are also challenges that impact a customer’s experience. Alongside the high error rate of chatbots, they are notoriously difficult to create. Many of the bots struggle to connect with users or perform simple tasks. At the moment, a highly intuitive chatbot cannot replace human interactions because AI doesn’t have the capacity for human-level empathy—a necessary soft skill in customer support.

Here’s what OpenAI CEO Sam Altman has to say on the matter. 

I think it’s important to understand and think about GPT-4 as a tool, not a creature, which is easy to get confused, and it’s a tool that people have a great deal of control over and how they use it.

Instead of replacing humans with AI, it should be used to amplify efforts and expand on creativity in a way that saves us time to tackle more critical responsibilities.

Using AI as a tool, not the final solution

Consider the accuracy of humans compared to AI. Humans have roughly a 98% accuracy rate—accounting for human error—whereas most well-tuned generative AI tools fall in the 80-90% range. (Risnews) Put side by side, this is pretty surprising, but not really. Modern AI algorithms learn from processing massive amounts of data, which can be imperfect. And besides the fact that AI can be biased, it falls short of emotion, common sense, and creativity. Simply stated: despite learning from large amounts of data, AI lacks context…key information in the customer support world.

Someday AI may surpass human accuracy, but for now, depending on data alone in customer support conversations leaves consumers with a hollow experience. Using collaborative intelligence, we can unlock AI’s full potential to receive the benefits: automation, efficiency, and cost savings. If we take what AI has to offer, employing it carefully and creatively, we marry our latest (and potentially greatest) creation with our uniquely human traits for better results.

The question, then, is how do we use AI as a tool? This looks different for each business and should be approached with mindfulness. Tasks like fact-checking, testing, monitoring, and validating automated software ensure AI is operating within expected boundaries. In the customer support space, merging the best AI-based support tools with human-centric skills is the most effective way to achieve modern balance.

What does the future of customer support look like?

The future is unknown until we reach it, but based on the current trajectory, we can make a few predictions about what customer support teams should prioritize in the coming months and years. 

Here’s our hot take:

  • As the world continues to move digital, human connection becomes more valuable. Consumers will treasure human connection more than ever before. 
  • Companies with human customer support representatives gain a competitive advantage over businesses that rely mainly on AI for support.
  • The more we talk with bots, the more we’ll crave the depth of human conversation. Talking with a human then becomes a relief.

To answer the question, the future of customer support is not AI-driven. It is and always has been human-centric. That isn’t to say that artificial intelligence cannot help us solve problems, but it points to respecting consumers enough to give them the time of day and the space to share their frustrations with someone who will listen. Efficiency will never be worth the price of replacing humans, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use the tools in front of us to keep moving forward.

Human-powered support

Influx uses the follow-the-sun model for global, multilingual support solutions that are 100% human-powered. We can get behind AI as a tool but believe that your customers deserve the attentive care of a human being to assist them. When each support conversation differs from the last, you need an empathetic human on the other end of the line who can relate to a problem and provide tailored solutions.

Our customer support is flexible, on-demand, and scales with your business. Check out our brand match page to see how we respond to customers exactly how you tell us to. Keep your support human-centric and get a quote!

About the author

Photo of Mikayla Fuller

Mikayla Fuller

Mikayla is an avid copywriter. If she’s not out on an adventure, you can find her somewhere with a book in hand.