AI and chatbots: The future of customer service


Richard Stevenson, CEO of Red Box Recorders, explores how technology is changing the landscape of customer service and how developments in AI and chatbots will change the way companies interact with their customers.

Every business quickly learns the value of the conversations they have with their customers. They aren’t only the lifeblood of any organisation fuelling transactions and growth, but also offer invaluable insight into what clients want and how they communicate.

The looming implementation of the MiFID II directive for financial services institutions has brought the issue into an even sharper spotlight as these businesses gear up to ensure they are recording and archiving all client communications. Beyond this, the next ten years will see a greater and fundamental shift in the way businesses look at this crucial data and what customers will expect in return.

The power of voice

I believe that within five to 10 years, mobile devices, both connected and physically worn, will record all voice communication businesses have with their customers, whether that be telecoms, mobile or face to face. These different channels will then be seamlessly converged into one simple and easy to access record.

Companies like Barclays and Santander have recently announced they will facilitate customers’ transactions through voice authorisation. These innovations represent only the first step in what is possible when you unleash the power of voice, letting customers do what they want, quickly, securely and in a way that helps improve service.

Real time record

With this range of different voice communications captured, transcribed and converged with emails, text and IM conversations, we are getting close to a real-time golden record of the customer. This will be something quite profound for many kinds of organisations. At present all these channels are disconnected and I don’t think there is a single financial services provider that currently knows their customers in anything like real-time.

Often, if you call a contact centre, they don’t even transcribe the conversation, so you can be telling them important data that is simply lost. In six months’ time, you might speak to them again and have to repeat this information. The result is frustrated customers who feel their communications aren’t important to your business.

Rise of the machines

Better data capture will also be fuelled by the increasing role that chatbots have to play in customer service, with the ability to analyse the data collected with much more sophisticated AI, again in real-time. You only ever need to tell them the information once. Services like Babylon in healthcare and Spixii in insurance services, are already leading the way. They are driving conversations with their customers that not only add value, but affect behavioural change by improving the whole industry through the way they communicate.

I think it is conceivable that within just five years most companies won’t even have websites. Why would you need one when you can communicate through a chatbot that tailors the message to its audience and then captures the communications to improve your service?

Locking the door

Key to the efficacy of these systems will not only be to what degree companies can rely on the recording systems in place, but also the security of the storage once it has been captured.

Organisations need to be able to assure their customers that their data is safe and that their procedures comply with regulations such as GDPR. Once trust is broken it is very hard to regain, so it’s vital companies place as much emphasis on the safekeeping of this data as its capture.

So, while this year is all about meeting compliance in the recording and storage of communications, we urge institutions, from startups to multinationals, to think about how they can use the data they capture to evolve how they serve their customers. This data is invaluable and the opportunity unlimited.