In today’s digital age, consumers live in an on-demand world and expect instant gratification. Across industries, consumers share a common need to have immediate results – even in the billing and payments sector. Many companies have already incorporated technologies such as interactive voice response (IVR), artificial intelligence (AI) solutions like chatbots or virtual agents, or a combination of both to power their customer service experience. Although AI-powered solutions continue to grow, according to new research from Speedpay®, consumers still desire live human interaction from their businesses.

The Role of AI in Customer Service

AI technology can help reduce employee workload by eliminating routine processes and tasks while ensuring accuracy and allowing employees to focus on higher-level, more valuable tasks. Even though AI solutions can improve a business’ efficiency through automation, it lacks the human touch that most consumers are not willing to completely sacrifice. 

According to the Speedpay Pulse, a consumer billing and payments trend survey of at least 3,000 U.S. adults responsible for two or more household payments a month, the majority of consumers (70.2 percent) still prefer talking to a human. Despite technological advancements, AI solutions can’t replicate human empathy, which can lead to a more frustrating experience for customers facing complex situations. In fact, over half (56.6 percent) of consumers do not believe this technology will fully replace humans in managing customer service interactions within the next five to ten years.

While most consumers want to maintain human interaction within their customer service experience, many can acknowledge the added benefits of AI technology. Of those who believe AI solutions can enhance the customer service experience, 64.2 percent reported it helps save time and 51.8 percent reported it provides round-the-clock support when representatives aren’t available.

Maintaining the Human Touch in AI Solutions

The constantly changing technology landscape creates hesitation among companies to invest in the latest AI-powered solutions due to the potential failure of systems and the impact on customer satisfaction. However, from fielding call center inquiries to negotiating customer payment plans, AI technology has advanced its capabilities and can be a strong asset to companies.

By customizing an AI solution to a company’s specific consumer base and maintaining the human touch throughout the process, companies can maximize and ensure customer service satisfaction. So, how can companies implement a hybrid solution to improve customer service? 

1. Know your stuff

Audit and analyze current customer service technology to have a full understanding of the current system. Look for areas of opportunity and growth to build upon the existing system.

2. Find your AI match

Strategically determine how an AI solution can best fit into and enhance your existing payment technology. Start by incorporating AI technology that corresponds to the current level of tech.

3. Train your team

The addition of AI technology into a company’s operations should enhance and support the existing team. Make sure all employees are properly trained in the technology and understand its role within customer services to further business goals.

4. Spread the word

Communicate any relevant changes and educate customers on the new technology. Remember to inform them that live agents are still available and the technology is only a support to improve the overall customer experience.   

AI technology will continue to evolve and support business operations. Since consumers still desire real human interaction, it’s recommended that companies maintain a hybrid solution within their customer service experience to provide an efficient and genuine payment experience. 

To learn more about consumers’ customer service experience preferences, download the Speedpay Pulse Trend Report here.