AI Vs. Human Customer Support
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AI vs. Human Customer Support: Choosing Your Team in the Customer Service Showdown

Musnad E Ahmed

Musnad E Ahmed

Last modified on February 29, 2024

AI vs. Human Customer Support: Choosing Your Team in the Customer Service Showdown

Heads up, we’re stepping into the ring where the contenders are Silicon versus Soul. In one corner, we have AI customer support, the tech whiz that promises 24/7 reliability.

In the opposite corner stands human customer support, the champion of connection and empathy. As the bell rings for this modern matchup, let’s break it down with no fluff, just facts and straight talk.

The Rise of AI Customer Support

a robot is coming out from the mobile

Artificial Intelligence (AI) in customer service isn’t a new sci-fi concept—it’s here and pretty slick.

Think chatbots that can answer questions at 3 AM or software that sorts through customer emails like a champ. AI is fast, doesn’t get tired, and can handle many queries simultaneously.

Pros of AI Support

  • Always On: AI doesn’t sleep, so customers get answers anytime.AI handles queries faster than a caffeinated coder, reducing wait times.
  • Consistency: AI sticks to the script, offering reliable info regularly and consistently.
  • Scalability: It can juggle more conversations than a room full of customer service reps.
  • Data Handling: AI thrives on data, analyzing it to provide personalized service.
  • Cost Savings: Juniper Research suggests that by 2023, AI could save the banking industry $7.3 billion in customer service costs.

Cons of AI Support

  • Less Personal: AI doesn’t do chit-chat or empathy very well. So, it gives away robotic vibes to the customers who expect warmth.
  • Confusion with Complexity: Throw a curveball at AI, which might fumble big time. Which takes too much time to resolve.
  • Complex Queries: AI can trip over nuanced or complex customer issues and turn the customers away.
  • Frustration with Failures: Customer frustration can skyrocket when AI misfires, potentially increasing churn rates.
  • Lack of Human Touch: AI can come off as cold. A PwC survey revealed that 64% of U.S. consumers and 59% of all consumers feel companies have lost touch with the human element of the customer experience.

Human Customer Support: The Classic Touch

two girls are sitting in font of desktop and discussing while holding pen on hand

On the flip side, human support brings the warmth and fuzzies that AI just can’t match. A real person can crack a joke, sense frustration, and make judgment calls that software might miss.

They can bring the heart and hustle to the game, offering a handshake and a smile (even if it’s through the phone).

Pros of Human Support

  • Empathy: Humans can read emotions and adjust their tone accordingly.
  • Complex Problem-Solving: Big issues often need a human touch to untangle.
  • Emotional Intelligence: They can laugh, sympathize, and sometimes even cry with your customers, creating bonds that AI can’t forge.
  • Adaptability: Humans can think on their feet and adapt to unpredictable situations.
  • Trust Building: American Express reports that 62% of customers feel that a human touch makes them feel more appreciated by companies.

Cons of Human Support

  • Cost: People need breaks, benefits, and, well, paychecks.
  • Availability: Unlike AI, humans can’t be everywhere at once.
  • Resource Intensive: Human agents need training, breaks, and a suitable work environment, all of which come at a cost.
  • Limited Bandwidth: There’s a cap on how many interactions they can manage simultaneously, leading to wait times during peak hours longer.
  • Consistency Challenges: Human performance can vary, which might affect service consistency.

What Do Customers Think?

a girl is thinking something with yellow background

Customers are voting with their feet and their tweets. Here’s where it gets real. Customers might dig the quick answers AI gives but get annoyed when a bot can’t understand their problem.

And while they love talking to a person who gets them, they hate waiting in line for the privilege.

So, Who’s Your Pick?

The million-dollar question, right?

Well, it’s not one-size-fits-all. AI could be your MVP if your business deals with many simple, FAQ-type questions. But humans are your go-to if you’re all about building relationships and personal service.

Why Not The Best of Both Worlds?

Why not mix it up? Use AI for the easy stuff and have humans ready for the heavy lifting.

Let AI tackle the basics while your human team steps up for the one-on-one interactions that require a personal touch when the customer needs them.

That way, you save time and money while still delivering that personal service when it counts. By blending both, you can easily create a hybrid powerhouse for your business.

Closing Thoughts: It’s About Balance

Deciding between AI and human customer support isn’t a knockout fight; it’s about playing to both strengths.

In a world where 70% of customer journeys are starting online, per McKinsey, AI can be the front door while humans provide the in-depth service that builds loyalty.

Tailoring the mix to your customers’ preferences is the key to winning in the service arena. So, gear up, combine forces, and prepare to deliver knockout customer experiences that score high with your audience.

Sales organization and business process outsourcing specialist with over 15 years experience in building and running highly efficient sales and customer support organizations, and in providing board and project level consulting to the sales and service organizations of leading companies all over the globe. Developed and implemented staffing strategies and programs that improved operational outcomes and maximized the available staff resources. Specializes in client experience, business process re-engineering, business requirements development, contact center optimization, customer relationship Management, staff training and motivation, and organizational analysis. Has led multiple teams in the successful development and implementation of new business models in BPO industries.

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