Research Reveals Artificial Intelligence is a Priority for Customer Service, But Implementation Levels are Low in Irish Organisations

Over a third of Irish organisations with customer contact centres view Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a high priority for Customer Relationship Management (CRM). However, only 14% currently use AI solutions, and only 33% of organisations plan to implement AI in the immediate future for customer service management, according to new research from Microsoft Ireland and Codec.

The research reveals the importance of AI will continue to increase for decision makers at Irish organisations, with seven in ten saying that AI will be a high priority in the future, both for the general business (69%) and for customer service (68%) activity. The growing importance of AI is highlighted by the finding that 93% of organisations plan to use AI as part of future ongoing customer service activities.

Interestingly, one in three organisations (36%) in Ireland currently use customer service tools that already include AI capability – not utilising this functionality demonstrates a significant missed opportunity.

According to the research, the main perceived benefits of AI for customer service are its ability to make processes more efficient (80%), enhance self-service for customers (76%), and improve the overall customer experience (65%).

When asked how they managed or collected insights to better help customers, 41% of organisations have an in-house customer service system, with 91% saying customer response time is a key priority, and 84% saying customer satisfaction is key. When it came to measuring feedback, 81% use survey and customer feedback forms. Under half (48%) use feedback captured by the call handler.

Respondents recognised the value of AI for gathering customer insights, with 51% noting its ability to predict customer behaviour as a key benefit, and 41% identifying AI as a beneficial way to better understand customers. It can also be used to drive product sales, with 29% of organisations listing AI’s ability to flag hot prospects for selling or upselling as a major benefit.

“The research shows that most organisations understand and can see the value of AI in capturing and extracting valuable insights for better customer service. However, AI is seen as a high priority for the future but less so today, which means that organisations are missing out on the opportunity to deliver the best possible customer experience right now. We see that organisations may already have AI capability in their existing systems but may not fully realise it. In addition, 41% have their own in-house and legacy solution which is costlier to manage and maintain and doesn’t leverage the full benefit of the cloud for customer experience. Organisations need to consider these missed opportunities and the associated costs of not taking action today,” said Ger Perdisatt, Enterprise Director, Microsoft Ireland.

“Dealing with international and local organisations daily to deliver CRM solutions allows us insight into where companies are in their digital transformation journey, so the results today aren’t a huge surprise – a massive majority of organisations recognise the business impact of AI on customer service. While the large majority see future investment as a priority, only about a third see an investment priority today. We hope that these findings encourage organisations to explore the potential of AI for customer experience today,” said Larry Tobin, Dynamics 365 Practice Director, Codec.

“We think this is a valuable piece of research for the customer service industry in Ireland. It is clear that the organisations that took part in this survey continue to focus on delivering an excellent customer experience and recognise the many benefits that AI offers to optimise business processes ensuring a seamless end to end customer journey experience. Customer service organisations must put their customer first in the pursuit of customer experience excellence and applying innovation and creativity through AI will assist them in achieving this goal,” Dorothy O’Byrne, Managing Director, Customer Contact Management Association (CCMA) Ireland.

These findings are from new research from Microsoft Ireland and Codec that was conducted by Coyne Research in August of this year in conjunction with members of the Customer Contact Management Association (CCMA). These ranged from large organisations with over 250 employees to SMEs in Ireland.

This research was conducted by Coyne Research in August 2018 on behalf of Microsoft and Codec survey CCMA members.

According to Irish organisations the other key benefits of AI from a customer service perspective are:

  • Reduces need for customers to call (62%)
  • Brings down wait times (59%)
  • Able to find the right response quickly (59%)
  • Streamlines processes (58%)
  • Clearer organisation of customer data (41%)
  • Better customer retention (28%)