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The ability to create more intuitive artificial intelligence (AI) has enabled a growing number of businesses to cut down on the need for human customer service. In particular, AI is being used on many companies’ websites to provide a live help service and chat function, and we have also seen easy-to-program chatbots replying to simple user queries on social networks. This allows business to answer common queries with far more efficiency, with the added benefit that AI doesn’t need to sleep or take breaks. However, persistent worries that AI cannot react effectively to more nuanced situations mean that customer care is arguably not set to be completely taken over by this tech.

The most common concern about the rise of AI is the fear that it will lead to a loss of jobs. However, many business are finding that the benefit of AI is that it bears the workload of more repetitive and menial tasks, granting human employees more time to focus their energy elsewhere. While customer service is not a trivial task, AI’s ability to respond in the same way to the same problems also eliminates the possibility of human error.

The rise of chatbots

We have seen a diverse range of companies adopt chatbots to streamline the online consumer experience. That diversity is evidenced in a blog from IMPACT that identifies nine of the best chatbots, which assist in tasks as eclectic as booking hotels or giving recipe advice. With the ability to appeal to a range of industries, it is no surprise that Gartner has predicted that over 50% of businesses will channel spending into bot development rather than more traditional mobile apps by 2021.

On paper, it makes perfect sense for companies to continue to find ways to utilise AI in online customer service. However, the biggest barrier to AI’s mass adoption is still public perception. Research from the Sitel Group revealed that 70% of consumers would prefer to speak with a human employee rather than an automated chat service. Even as AI becomes more versatile, it is still far easier to trust a human with more complex requests and queries. While AI can be trusted to complete a certain process without failure, it falls short when that process needs even the most minor alterations.

The human ability to empathise is priceless in customer service. While straightforward tasks can be resolved efficiently by AI, the most nuanced queries and complaints continue to require the human touch. Fears about the effect of the growing prominence of technology have been well-documented. Sociologist Nicholas A. Christakis detailed his concerns about AI in a long read for The Atlantic, noting how reliance on AI could irrevocably change humans’ ability to interact.

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The human touch

This is why some industries are making a concerted effort to bring back the human element, with one example being live online casino games. The rise of online casinos was originally driven by a desire to eliminate human limitations; gamers could play whatever game they wanted at whatever time, without being constrained by physical casino opening hours. That capacity to provide a 24/7 service proved equally effective as many companies’ use of chatbots, but online casinos removed the social elements of casino games. In a bid to recapture that human connection, casino games have been developed in which real-life croupiers are streamed live to recreate the environment of a physical casino. The live blackjack at Betway takes this idea further, with a party atmosphere and an emphasis on interaction providing an immersive experience. In the same way that many people feel more comfortable knowing another human is dealing with their customer service request, being able to see dealers operate the game adds another level of trust.

Having someone else to share in the euphoria of the game can also make the experience more gratifying. This is why HQ Trivia became a runaway success in the field of mobile quiz apps. The use of live hosts to read the questions, as well as to give shout-outs to players, created a more collective experience. HQ Trivia could have easily developed its global real-time gameplay to be operated by a bot, but the use of a live host enabled the app to stand out in a crowded market of mobile apps. As with the previous example, what was once an isolated pursuit became an experience to be shared. While the app’s popularity has declined from its peak of 1 million daily users, Variety reported how HQ Trivia has generated over $10 million in advertising revenue since the first quarter of 2018.

This shows that the human touch is still widely appreciated. However, the rise of AI in online customer service appears inexorable. The ownership of AI in a start-up company is sufficiently coveted by investors that The Guardian detailed how some businesses are using humans to act as bots, in order to project the appearance of AI. The use of AI in online customer service continues to be effective in handling straightforward queries at any time of the day, but the need for some degree of human involvement will never fully disappear.