artificial intelligence in communicationsNot too long ago when you would call a customer service line or the main line for a business, you would reach a live human being right away.

As corporations have grown and technology has progressed, more and more organizations are using artificial intelligence in communications and customer service.

And it’s not just an automated phone system with interactive voice recognition.

Artificial intelligence has grown to be able to send emails, do live chats, route calls, and more.

According to research, as many as 53 percent of contact centers are using artificial intelligence.

Moving forward, more and more contact centers and other kinds of businesses will incorporate artificial intelligence.

When surveyed by the Accenture 2016 Technology Vision survey, 70 percent of corporate executives said they are investing more in artificial intelligence than they were two years ago.

We are entering a new era of technology in the workplace.

Artificial intelligence will have a significant effect on the future of business communications.

So just how is artificial intelligence in communications going to change our lives?

Online Customer Support

You may have visited a website recently and had a little chat box pop up.

While it seems like a real person is interacting with that box, there’s a good chance the entity on the other end of that conversation is artificial intelligence.

That technology has been programmed to reply to common questions with automated responses.

That’s just one way artificial intelligence is being used to offer customer support online.

Artificial intelligence in online customer support is becoming increasingly more common and significantly more advanced.

With the chat boxes, AI bots are programmed to reply to straightforward and shared questions (based on the site) such as, “Where are you located?”

Facebook has moved beyond basic questions to have 11,000 different types of chatbots in their Messenger app.

These AI bots can help Facebook users perform a variety of tasks from ordering and paying for a pizza to finding a movie to watch that suits their tastes.

Benefits of AI in Customer Support

Using artificial intelligence has multiple benefits for customer service.

Overall, artificial intelligence is cheaper than using live people.

An average customer service phone call costs $6 to $20 per call.

Automated calls average around 25 cents.

Having artificial intelligence handle some of the customer service calls and chats also frees live human agents to better perform their responsibilities.

AI can handle a portion of customer service requests—leading to reduced hold times and more refreshed customer service agents. 

Downsides to Using AI for Customer Service

There are many subtleties in human interactions that artificial intelligence is not yet able to interpret.

Without the human element, it is difficult for organizations to form real relationships with customers.

This could affect brand loyalty.

AI bots can’t yet handle things such as emotions, empathy, social norms, and other details of human communication.

This can lead to trouble for businesses.

In 2016, Microsoft used artificial intelligence to run a social media experiment.

The company developed a chatbot named “Tay” who meant to sounds like the conversational style of a 19-year-old American woman.

Released on messaging apps Twitter, Kik, and GroupMe, the bot targeted 18 to 24 year-olds in the U.S.

The AI bot quickly took a turn for the worse when it started releasing unsavory messages about racist immigration policy, Hitler, and 9/11 conspiracy theories.

It had picked up negative parts of conversations Microsoft didn’t anticipate.

The Microsoft Tay experience is one that provides lessons for tech engineers.

As artificial intelligence improves, it will learn more about human interactions.

It’s possible, in the very near future, it will be hard to tell the difference between bot and human.

For now, people working alongside artificial intelligence is the best action.

AI provides automation and people provide the proper direction. 

Artificial Intelligence in Communications and Brand Compliance

One of the goals of using artificial intelligence is to remove the errors involved with live humans.

People are living, breathing, emotional, and sometimes unpredictable.

Artificial intelligence can be programmed to react the same way to a scenario—without the risk of emotional or heated responses.

For example, a typical scenario is the customer service agent who loses their temper.

The customer could be attacking the agent.

Or the agent could have emotional stuff going on in their life that affects their work.

When the agent yells at a customer or says something inflammatory, it can taint the brand’s image.

Artificial intelligence has no emotion or outside factors to compete with the customer service task at hand.

An AI bot can be programmed to react correctly to certain keywords, phrases, or scenarios that comply with the brand style guide or organizational guidelines.

While there will still be room for error in miscommunication, using an AI bot eliminates emotional outbursts on behalf of the brand. 

Automated Content Creation and Personalized Content

Today, automated content creation and personalized comes come from artificial intelligence.

Written articles—especially ones that can mathematically dissected—are produced completely by artificial intelligence.

The Associated Press is using artificial intelligence to create full-scale earnings reports and minor league baseball reports.

Their AI is currently churning out 3,500 U.S. company earnings reports a quarter and 10,000 minor league baseball game recaps per year.

The potential is there for organizations to produce news releases, marketing materials, and other useful business communications.

Not only is the content provided by artificial intelligence fully automated, it can also use data to produce personalized content in marketing, advertising, and media.

This could have huge implications for public relations as the artificial intelligence can pull detailed information that provides content personalized to particular audiences—in a way that is fast.

The potential of artificial intelligence in communications is far reaching.

Combining AI with the power of big data is creating opportunities for media, marketing, public relations, and customer service that we may not even have realized yet.

Josh McAllister

Josh McAllister is a freelance writer and business consultant based in New York. In his free time, he enjoys all things geeky and gadgetry, the outdoors, and spending time with his family.

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