For many SaaS companies, the product offerings are complex by nature. Welcome to Tech! But here's the problem: it isn't always easy to assemble an A-team of customer service reps who can navigate SaaS customer issues with the necessary skill and speed.
Enter Suumit Shah, CEO of Dukaan, an India-based e-commerce platform. Shah wasn't exactly thrilled over the sub-par performance of his customer support team. He turned to Lina — a chatbot powered by ChatGPT — to see if he could improve results.
Not only did Lina provide faster and more accurate responses with a cheerful, conversational tone, immune to the pressures of serving frustrated customers — but it was way cheaper. Customers were happier, and the reviews were glowing. Shah realized his 27-person team of customer service representatives couldn't compete with Lina's robot brain. So, he canned them.
"It was [a] no-brainer for me to replace the entire team with a bot, which is like 100 times smarter, who is instant, and who cost me like 100th of what I used to pay to the support team," said Shah.
From the perspective of a CX leader, we can see obvious benefits to adopting AI tech. There are substantial cost savings and quicker solutions to complex problems — but is it really worth giving the boot to an entire department?
Experts Advise: A Total AI Takeover Poses Some Risk
Over the past twenty years, the industry of outsourced customer service has exploded in countries like India, where it accounts for 10 percent of all jobs, and the Philippines, where 1.6 million people have found steady employment. As AI technology renders these roles obsolete, economists warn that some countries may be verging on the brink of economic collapse.
It's hard to deny the impressive functioning of AI technology, which can analyze millions of data points in the time it takes to add a Splenda to your coffee. However, anyone who has seen AI attempt to generate an image of human hands knows the software still lacks in certain areas.
From a customer service standpoint, AI doesn't have the sharpest skills regarding creativity, empathy, and community — three core capabilities that come naturally to humans. While some clever workarounds and AI functions can display these values, such as greeting users by name and remembering details about their lives, they can't replace the human capacity to create authentic connections.
Speaking of empathy — Shah's announcement on Twitter was met with a healthy dose of internet outrage, and folks were quick to express their disapproval at the CEO's not-so-empathetic decision. While his customer satisfaction and profits were (seemingly) up, the court of public opinion remains divided.
As for the effectiveness of Lina in place of human talent, online reviews paint a different picture.
Can CX Managers Combine the Powers of Human and Tech?
We've got good news for the customer service departments out there! You know that old saying, "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em"? Well, much like The Terminator II: Judgement Day, when humans and AI decide to join forces, they can tackle bigger problems together.
After researching AI's impact on call centers, Erik Brynjolfsson, a professor at the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered AI, noted some interesting trends. Unlike the folks at Dukaan, many companies are opting to supplement their existing customer support teams with AI tech instead of wiping them out entirely.
In his recent study surveying over 5,000 customer support agents, Brynjolfsson discovered that workers with access to AI tools had a 14 percent average boost in productivity. Novice workers seemed to reap the most benefits, while the senior-level reps saw insignificant improvement. Things like transcription tools, which can analyze conversations and seek relevant solutions while humans do the talking, have been wildly successful.
Simple problems with quick solutions are a simple fix with AI, but for the more nitty-gritty issues, the combined powers of humans and robots can move mountains.
Before you decide to replace your whole customer service team with a chatbot, Brynjolfsson suggests looking for ways to augment your existing teams. That way, you can reap the benefits of robot-level tech savvy and genuine human connection without giving your whole team the old heave-ho.
For Shah, the massive cost-savings were priority numero uno, and he has zero regrets. Where do you stand? Team Robot, Team Human, or working together in harmony?
If you're considering adopting AI chatbot tech in your SaaS company's service center, check out our top 32 Best AI Chatbots for Customer Service in 2023. Or if you prefer the human touch, learn what solutions exist for call centers of any size.