Since the introduction of AI platforms like ChatGPT a few years ago, the widespread use of these tools has exploded into the common workplace. Chatbots have been used for years, but with predictive AI developing every day, where should we be drawing the line? 

Positions like customer marketing, customer success, and other customer-facing roles, rely a lot on face-to-face interaction with customers to maintain meaningful relationships and improve overall customer lifetime value.

But does the presence of AI impact this? Let's get going. 

The current landscape of AI in customer service

In 2023, the global AI market size was close to $208 billion. By 2030, the market size is expected to reach over $1.7 trillion. For example, the AI platform, Attentive saw a 128% growth in revenue in 2024, specifically in supporting marketing brands on topics like personalization. 

AI has done a lot to streamline and shorten tasks for these teams. Some of the most common include: 

  1. Handling customer queries and assisting in real-time on websites, social media platforms, and messaging apps.
  2. Sending personalized email responses, promotional messages, and follow-ups based on customer behavior and preferences.
  3. Tracking brand mentions on social media; comments, and messages across social platforms to address customer inquiries and manage reputation.
  4. Generating and managing support tickets, assigning them to appropriate agents, and tracking their resolution status.
  5. Enabling hands-free customer support through voice-activated assistants for tasks like scheduling appointments or accessing account information.
  6. Suggesting products, services, or content to customers based on their past interactions, purchase history, and browsing behavior.

How AI is changing customer experience

Chatbots are increasingly recognized as a valuable asset for customer service teams to help make their workflows more efficient. They provide a range of benefits, from multilingual capabilities to their round-the-clock availability, enabling them to serve an unlimited number of customers across various platforms.

Moreover, these bots excel not only in handling multiple queries simultaneously but also in continuously learning from interactions to deliver more personalized responses. 

These AI features can also be used to gather and analyze data. 

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For example, they can identify common customer questions and problems allowing businesses to preempt larger customer issues and have a solution already in place. 

The vast amount of customer data available these days can be incredibly valuable but also overwhelming without the help of AI. It can efficiently extract trends and identify customer pain points in the blink of an eye, letting businesses get on with the task of developing products, services, and communications that meet their customers’ current and future needs.

But where does AI fail?

Challenges and concerns about AI

There are several drawbacks of over-relying on AI in customer service positions, ones that must be taken into account when discussing the balance of AI and human input, the security of customer data, and other issues. 

Limited problem-solving

While AI-powered systems excel at handling routine queries and tasks, they’re not suited to creative problem-solving. Currently, many queries brought to customer service teams will be far too complex for an AI to handle. 

Once a customer query steps out of the script provided to the AI, its usefulness ends. AI currently doesn’t possess the adaptability to be able to process new queries and solve them in real-time.

Another issue with this is that AI can be fed incorrect data when solving customer issues, resulting in AI systems that are spreading incorrect solutions to your customers. About 56% of companies say “inaccuracy” is the biggest risk posed by adopting generative AI. Yet only 32% of companies have systems in place for mitigating such inaccuracies. 

Issues surrounding data privacy and security

AI systems rely on vast amounts of customer data to function effectively. More sophisticated platforms like ChatGPT are constantly being fed data without the permission of the owner of said data. Privacy laws haven’t quite caught up with the existence of AI yet, so there are very real ethical concerns when it comes to using data to teach these AI tools. 

On top of this number, only 44.2% of companies have data governance in place and fewer than 20% of executives firmly believe their applied AI ethics actually meet their stated values. 

Over-reliance on AI in customer service increases the risk of data breaches or misuse if proper safeguards and protocols are not in place to protect sensitive customer information. 

Impact on customer marketing teams

And yet, despite these somewhat scary numbers, 79% of corporate strategists said that technology like artificial intelligence would be critical to their success in the next two years. 

When it comes to marketing positions, 88% of marketers say they need to increase the use of automation and AI to meet customer expectations and stay competitive. 

Looking back on the ways AI has impacted customer experience, this makes sense. 

The ease brought by having AI bots answer the most common FAQ questions, opens up space for marketers to then prioritize more time-consuming tasks - such as those ever-important face-to-face conversations. 

Segmentation and targeting

AI is revolutionizing customer segmentation and targeting using enhanced data analysis to understand demographics, browsing behavior, purchase history, and social media interactions. 

Unlike static segmentation methods, AI also enables dynamic segmentation that continuously adapts and updates based on real-time data inputs. This flexibility allows businesses to identify and target new customer segments or adjust their strategies in response to changing market conditions or consumer trends.

Understanding customer behavior

AI algorithms excel at identifying patterns and trends in customer behavior that may not be apparent through traditional analysis methods. By analyzing historical data and identifying correlations, AI can predict future customer actions and preferences, enabling marketers to anticipate and respond to changing consumer trends more effectively.

AI can also map out the customer journey across various touchpoints and channels, following a customer's path to purchase and identifying opportunities for optimization. 

This type of monitoring can also identify opportunities for engagement, and provide product recommendations. This tool will enable marketers to deliver timely and relevant messages to customers, increasing the effectiveness of certain marketing campaigns.

Let’s say you have a customer who’s currently visiting an article done by a speaker at an upcoming event. Their time-on-page should let you know their interest in the topic. Their geographic location can also inform you if they’re relatively close to the event location. If the speaker or a similar topic is being discussed at your upcoming event, inform your customer in the form of a pop-up on-page. 

Personalized marketing campaigns at scale

AI enables marketers to dynamically generate personalized content for each customer based on their preferences, behavior, and past interactions. AI-powered content recommendations can help marketers deliver personalized content suggestions, and promotional offers tailored to each customer's interests and needs. 

AI usually tends to offer only the broadest aspects of a particular topic, so you may have to take the time to train the AI to understand how your audience differs from the general population. 

AI-powered email marketing campaigns are very common by now. By analyzing customer engagement data and predicting the most effective content, timing, and frequency for each recipient, these AI-informed emails can lead to an increase in open rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates.

AI algorithms optimize digital advertising campaigns by analyzing customer data and predicting the most relevant audiences, ad placements, and messaging. By targeting ads to specific audience segments and optimizing ad creative based on performance data, AI helps marketers maximize the effectiveness of their advertising spend.

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How to maintain the balance with AI

As with everything, finding the right balance between automation and the human touch is important, so let's get into how this can be done: 

No. 1 - Maintain a hybrid approach: Using a hybrid model that combines AI automation with human interaction is vital. Overreliance on AI is a surefire way to alienate your customers. While AI can handle routine tasks and inquiries, human agents must be available to provide personalized assistance for more complex issues and situations that require empathy and understanding.

No.2 - Assure human oversight and intervention: AI-powered processes should never be left unmonitored. Human agents must review AI-generated responses, intervene when necessary, and provide additional context or clarification to ensure that customer interactions remain factual, authentic, and meaningful.

No. 3 - Upskilling your teams: Support your existing workers by equipping employees with the skills and knowledge to leverage AI in their roles. By using AI as a tool, organizations can enhance the customer experience while maintaining a human touch.

No.4 - Transparent communication: Be transparent with customers about the use of AI in customer interactions. Businesses should always keep their customer preferences in mind. Let customers are interacting with AI-powered systems, and provide options for engaging with human agents if desired. Transparency builds trust and reassures customers that their needs and concerns are being addressed appropriately.

No.5 - Monitor, reflect, adjust: Establish a feedback loop to continuously evaluate and improve AI-powered processes based on customer input and insights. Solicit feedback from customers about their experiences with AI interactions, and use this feedback to refine and optimize AI algorithms and workflows to better align with customer preferences and expectations.

To conclude…

To conclude, AI is still an extremely new tool, and regulations when it comes to privacy and data protection are still struggling to catch up to this newer technology. AI is a tool that must be used with an awareness of the ethical considerations behind it when it comes to customer and employee protection. 

AI is not going to be a tool that will replace customer service roles any time soon, and organizations should be upskilling and supporting their employees to account for these changes in technology. AI is always going to need human intervention to maintain the validity of its work so giving your existing employees the skill to work, monitor, and use AI responsibly is vital for the sustainability of your AI usage. 

AI can be a massive help in breaking down the more menial tasks for customer service and customer marketing professionals and can free up invaluable time in a workday for businesses to prioritize their 1-2-1 or face-to-face customer connections. Doing so will ensure more stable and sustainable customer satisfaction when it comes to interacting with your brand.