While AI and its cohorts have many useful applications across a wide swath of platforms, eventually the issue of these components in the human realm will have to be addressed. Expect 2018 to ramp up the debate around this vector.
However, circling back to areas where AI, MI and ML will find significant integration, one is the customer service sector. Because it will be a while before the actual customer service agents are artificial, 2018 will see the two prime customer service metrics – urgency and emotion –augmented by the next-generation of AI. Algorithms will aid customer service agents in assessing customer dispositions by what they say, even how they say it. These algorithms will aid and direct the agents in their responses and actions.
Another similar customer service application, according to Computerworld, is in the hospitality segment. Hotel groups like Marriott, Sheraton and Westin are interested in deploying virtual assistants in room services. Sheraton Grand Hangzhou Wetland Park Resort and Westin Sanya Haitang Bay Resort stated they plan to install Alibaba’s AI-powered voice assistant Tmall Genie in their guest rooms to control curtains, lamps, TV, air conditioning, call room services and provide travel suggestions
Extrapolating, it is quite possible that AI, along with deep learning and MI can, eventually, master the assessment of metrics, such as urgency and emotion, and become a stand-alone response system in many of the cases. But that is still some distance away.
For now, augmentation and limited functions seems to be the immediate direction. According to a recent Gartner report, it is believed that, by the year 2020, 85 percent of customer relationships, of one sort or another, will be through AI-powered services. Exactly what that will look like is still a bit fuzzy.
Another cutting-edge application is with Lyft, which uses AI-powered self-service to eliminate the human factor (except for the driver, but Uber is looking to do that as well). The customer manages all the variables – time, place, payment, etc. Because there is very little wiggle room in the process, it is reliable, repeatable and consistent, i.e. low stress. 2018 promises to unveil more of these types of approaches to customer service in scenarios that can benefit from such autonomous processes.