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Will AI Replace Customer Service from Humans? Everything You Need to Know

Concerns About AI

The reality of the situation is that on a basic level, AI customer service can do a sufficiently effective job. However, there are concerns from many entry-level professionals about the potential of their jobs becoming obsolete, while similarly, customers can often be averse to communicating with machines rather than people. 

This blog will break down how modern companies are using AI for customer service, from advanced call center technology to simple homepage chatbots, investigating the ways that it either can or cannot replace human interaction. 

The Traditional Landscape of Customer Service

Before we go deeper into AI replacing customer service professionals, it’s important to consider the traditional methods that have been used by companies for the years before artificial employees became available. 

Call Centers:

Whether in-house or outsourced, call centers offer customers a chance to talk to a service representative over the phone to try and resolve a problem. 

Advantages: This form of customer service occurs in real-time, allowing customers to feel tended to and for issues to be solved immediately. 

Disadvantages: Waiting times can be substantial and variables like call failures can be hugely frustrating to customers. 

Email Support:

This form of customer service involves (usually in-house) customer service reps attempting to solve problems through a series of email interactions. 

Advantages: Email support is usually delivered within specified time frames, with the format also allowing for attachments that can provide added detail. 

Disadvantages: If an email is misunderstood or given an unsatisfactory response, the situation’s timeframe can be significantly stretched out. 

Live Chat:

The sort of middle ground between email and call centers – live chats allow customers to instant message service providers in a way similar to using social media. 

Advantages: The format allows for the immediacy of a phone call, without the need to verbally articulate the points of an issue. 

Disadvantages: It can feel a little impersonal, reducing the capacity of the employee to express empathy and compassion for a customer’s situation. 

Interactive Voice Response Systems (IVR):

A precursor to conversational AI for customer service, these systems use pre-recorded phone messages to direct customers in the right direction.

Advantages: When used properly, they should get customers to the person or resolution they need more efficiently. 

Disadvantages: These systems can often lack relevant options or put an end to calls somewhat prematurely. 

It’s only by understanding these pre-existing systems that we can accurately ascertain the impact that AI is having on the customer service realm. 

How Businesses Use AI for Customer Service

Despite the long-standing efficacy of the methods stated above, companies are increasingly turning to AI, with customer service being the most common directive of artificial intelligence

AI can be utilized as a customer service tool in many forms, such as: 

Chatbots and Virtual Assistants:

The AI chatbot for customer service takes the place of the live chat, being an automated system that engages in conversations with customers. 

Advantages: These bots can handle simple inquiries 24/7, providing effective responses instantly. 

Natural Language Processing (NLP):

These systems enable machines to process human language, making them similar to live chatbots but more effective for phone inquiries. 

Advantages: These systems can even read customer emotions, offering empathetic responses that less advanced AI systems would be incapable of. 

Machine Learning (ML) for Personalization:

ML algorithms are designed to analyze data from customer profiles, behavior, and former interactions to personalize future conversations with preferences and targeted assistance. 

Advantages: With personalized information and responses, customers can expect relevant solutions without having to consistently repeat the details of their situation. 

The reasons for doing so include: 

  • Speed: Some professionals claim that AI can speed up the customer service process 8-fold, with an AI chatbot for customer service offering instant responses. 

  • 24/7 Availability: AI can offer support at any hour of the day, ensuring customers can get the help they need anytime, anywhere.

  • Scalability: Artificial Intelligence is capable of managing larger volumes of inquiries than one human operative, making it a scalable solution for growing businesses. 

  • Consistency: AI should be consistent, strictly following guidelines around service quality with every interaction.

  • Data-Driven Insights: The best AI solutions can analyze interactions to provide actionable insights that can be used to improve products and services.

Plenty of major businesses across a variety of industries are already using AI in different capacities for customer service, such as: 

  • KFC

  • Amazon

  • Bank of America

  • Macy’s 

  • Axis Bank 

  • Marriott International

  • Tesla

  • ING

  • Domino’s Pizza

  • Zillow

AI has already become a core element of the customer service plans of many businesses, and this can only be expected to grow as time goes on. 

Will AI Replace Customer Service Overall? Explaining Concerns

As is to be expected, introducing this technology has raised some concerns for both customer service professionals and customers themselves. 

For professionals, the fear is based in the reality of Job Loss or Obsolescence. It’s not unrealistic that some people’s jobs simply won’t exist within a few years of AI becoming the go-to solution for customer service. 

Alternatively, customers might worry about the Lack of Expertise or Human Connection that an AI bot might suffer from. The best human operatives have the innate advantage of being just that - human, meaning they can offer empathy and emotional intelligence.

In a wider context, people have valid Privacy Concerns about AI. With such new technology, it’s hard to tell exactly how data will be handled or protected, especially when so much information is being inputted. 

The Importance of Finding Balance: Hybrid Approaches

The reality is that AI will likely replace the more basic forms of customer service, however, the path to safe careers and consistent customer satisfaction lies in a hybrid approach. This might mean professionals adapting their skills and ascertaining how to leverage AI to allow themselves to do a better job.  

Hybrid Approach Example - Automated Ticketing and Routing:

This system uses AI to categorize and prioritize customer support scenarios, assigning “tickets” to the most appropriate agents based on their content. This approach uses AI to streamline the process, while also leaving the solution in the hands of a human, ensuring it can be handled quickly, effectively, and with the all-important personal touch. 


So will AI replace customer service? The answer is a resounding “kind of”. However, while customer service AI can sound scary, the reality of the situation is that advanced call center technologies, AI chatbots, and Machine Learning systems are generally creating opportunities, rather than flatly reducing the contribution of humans. 

If you’re interested in learning more about any of the topics brought up in this blog, make sure to attend this year's Call & Contact Center Expo this April in Las Vegas. The event will feature seminars and masterclasses from industry leaders, covering concepts ranging from AI to wider concerns in the CX and UX spheres, along with showcases for hundreds of products and countless professional networking opportunities. 

Tickets are limited, so don’t waste time and reserve your spot today!