Companies across the Middle East are deploying artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to revolutionise customer service as more and more consumers show a high acceptance of AI-driven experiences, new research has revealed.

A report from ServiceNow and Devoteam, titled The AI revolution: creating a new customer service paradigm, explores how AI is driving a new revolution in service delivery, drawing on research carried out with 770 IT professionals responsible for the customer service function in 10 EMEA countries.

It reveals that nearly a third (30 percent) of EMEA organisations have introduced AI technologies to customer service and 72 percent of those are already seeing benefits that include freeing up agents’ time, more efficient processing of high-volume tasks, and providing always-on customer support.

Paul Hardy, Chief Innovation Officer EMEA at ServiceNow said: 

“The majority of organisations are offering omnichannel experiences to customers, but many are struggling to keep up with increasing consumer demand for service across these channels. Early adopters are reaping the benefits of using AI technologies to deal with common tasks and requests, freeing agents to shift away from a reactive role to really driving proactive, meaningful engagement.”

According to survey respondents, providing service and support 24/7 is their number one customer service challenge. Customers are being offered multiple service channels, but they expect responses at any time of the day – and this is pushing organisations to breaking point:

  • Half of organisations are not available to respond to customer enquiries 24/7
  • 40 percent of organisations say they struggle to meet the rising expectations of customer service
  • 37 percent are challenged to answer repetitive questions in an efficient way

AI will allow organisations to move beyond handling more queries more efficiently, to anticipating and acting on customer needs:

  • 59 percent of organisations will extend the range of queries that virtual customer assistants (VCAs) and chatbots handle
  • 47 percent say AI will enable the customer service operation to become more efficient
  • 37 percent say AI can be used to provide a higher level of service

Debbie Elder, Principal Consultant at Devoteam, said:

“We are only at the beginning of the AI-driven customer service revolution. A powerful development is the ability of AI to help transform high-stress moments into positive experiences for customers that build loyalty. For example, in the case of a flight cancellation, AI can detect the customer starting a live chat and indicate it is likely to be due to the cancellation. It can then immediately escalate the interaction to a human agent to arrange an alternative and deliver a superior service.”

While the adoption of AI will increase, these technologies will only serve to augment the role of the human agent at the front line of delivering the ‘wow’ kind of Customer Experience:

  • 37 percent of organisations say AI can be used to provide a higher level of service, with similar levels of employment
  • 29 percent of organisations using AI-based technology are aware of the need for upskilling customer service managers

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