Embracing Generative AI: The Key to Automating Customer Service for Businesses

By Andrew Bourne

For a very long time, artificial intelligence [AI] has promised a lot while remaining inaccessible to ordinary people. You’d read a headline about legal researchers using an AI tool to fight traffic fines or medical scientists using it to more accurately identify cancerous tumours, and while it appeared tantalisingly close, it also seemed just beyond grasp.

That has changed dramatically over the past couple of years. Suddenly everyone can use advanced AI tools for everything from getting answers to basic questions and building holiday itineraries to creating professional-quality images, videos, and audio. And we can all do so from the comfort of our couches. 

Andrew Bourne, Regional Manager, Africa, Zoho

This kind of AI, broadly referred to as generative AI, includes applications such as ChatGPT and Midjourney. It also has potential far beyond the examples most of us are familiar with. In the enterprise space, for example, it has a wealth of possible applications for enhancing the overall customer experience and bringing increased loyalty and, ultimately, revenue.

AI is Already Improving Your Personal Customer Experience 

Before diving into how organisations can harness the power of generative AI to enhance customer experience, it’s important to highlight that AI is already playing a pivotal role in elevating your customer journey.

Consider your go-to streaming platform, for instance. The tailored suggestions you receive for new shows and movies are the handiwork of AI algorithms. The same applies when you’re shopping online, where AI-driven product recommendations guide your choices, or when you encounter those targeted ads while browsing.

Those are all examples of AI being applied to massive data sets in order to give you personalised recommendations. 

Leveraging Generative AI for Improved Customer Experience

While personalised recommendations hold significant value, they represent just one facet of how an organisation can harness generative AI to enhance its customer experience initiatives. 

It can, for example, be integrated into chatbots, which can provide automated, 24/7 customer support. That makes it easier for customers to resolve issues themselves quickly, something that many customers prefer [one piece of research, released in 2022, found that 81% of customers expect more self-service options]. Using AI-powered customer support tools has other benefits too, including freeing up customer support staff to deal with more complex problems that need human intervention. 

Organisations can leverage generative AI to enhance customer experiences by employing it in content creation. Consider the holiday itinerary example previously mentioned: An online travel booking platform could harness AI to curate personalised itineraries for each customer, taking into account their preferences, chosen destination, and budget constraints. This level of customised service distinguishes your brand from competitors. Add to that the AI’s capabilities in assisting with content creation, including blogs and social media posts, and you possess a formidable toolkit to captivate and engage customers continually.

Finally, businesses can use generative AI to streamline the customer journey. Through its ability to analyse large data sets, generative AI can identify patterns and detect potential problem areas that need attention. It can also generate the kind of insights you need to improve the quality of service you deliver and better anticipate future customer needs. 

A Guiding Human Hand is Still Necessary 

As powerful a tool as generative AI can be when it comes to enhancing customer experience, it’s important to remember that it’s still in its infancy [at least in terms of widespread, popular use]. For example, there’s still some way to go before it’s capable of answering questions with 100% accuracy [even a genuinely valuable tool like ChatGPT occasionally exhibits moments of what can be termed as “inaccurate responses” or outputs that lack coherence]. 

As scientists, researchers, and engineers continually push the boundaries of AI capabilities, it becomes increasingly imperative for organisations to exercise caution when considering the application of generative AI. Even in well-established use cases, the inclusion of human oversight is paramount to preventing unintended consequences.

After all, there’s nothing quite as detrimental to the customer experience as the sensation of interacting with a machine rather than a human.

By Andrew Bourne, Regional Manager, Africa, Zoho

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