How Artificial Intelligence is revolutionizing customer service in Ghana

Artificial Intelligence Artificial Intelligence (A) is dramatically changing the way we carry out our tasks.

Thu, 12 Oct 2017 Source: Fatima Tambajang

It is said that "the customer is always right", as their patronage is what drives the profits and existence of a business. It is therefore imperative, that businesses ensure that they deliver high level of service to ensure that their customers keep coming back.

However, in Ghana, most of us have gotten use to a poor and ineffective customer service culture. You are deemed lucky if you encounter a pleasant customer experience in Ghana. Endless ringing phone lines with no response and the mentality that staff are doing their customers a favour, are frustrations patrons deal with frequently.

However, in the era of social media, disgruntled customers are increasingly using online platforms to share their experiences and hold businesses accountable. Just 140 characters on twitter can lead a business to face a PR disaster, impacting their revenue. It is therefore important that businesses use new and innovative ways to keep those customers satisfied and engaged. Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) can revolutionize the way service is delivered to customers.

AI is a wide area in computer science which requires software programmers to hand-engineer machines to learn cognitive functions such as problem solving and learning. Increasingly in our daily lives, AI is dramatically changing the way we carry out our tasks.

With services such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa becoming more mainstream. Chatbots are software powered by AI to stimulate human conversations in real time.

They allow customers to ask questions and voice their complaints, rather than calling a customer service agent or having to wait minutes for a live chat to respond. When developed properly, customers find it hard to tell if they are communicating with a human or an automated service agent.

Messaging apps are increasingly becoming more popular, international businesses such as Google, KIA Motors and Bank of America have therefore adopted Chatbots to keep their customers satisfied and engaged.

Rather than having to email or call a business, customers prefer to engage in interactive real-time conversations on platforms they actively use such as Facebook messenger. According to Forrester’s H2 2016 Global Mobile Executive Online Survey, 49% of marketing executives have adopted Chatbots, in the last two years.

Chatbots can act as 24/7 automated customer service agents, assisting customers with their questions and complaints, no matter the time of day without fail. The constant engagement between customers and the business ultimately foster stronger brand loyalty and makes them perceive a business as more reliable.

Chatbots also offer invaluable, insights into market trends and patterns derived from customers’ engagement with a business. The information gained ultimately allows businesses to gain market intelligence that can be utilized effectively to target audiences and create better marketing campaigns and promotions. The constant data Chatbots receives allows it to become smarter and know the customer better.

This allows the Chatbot to recommend and send personalized and relevant business information straight to a customer’s inbox. More importantly, Chatbots allow companies to gain access to the over 3 million Ghanaians on Facebook alone, allowing businesses to engage with existing customers and new potential ones on a scale that would be impossible to achieve manually.

While the adoption rate of this technology is still picking up in Ghana, companies such as Mazzuma, a mobile money platform are already using AI in their business operations and services. Mazzuma’s Chatbot developed by CYST, allows customers to send money, purchase airtime and purchase other utilities on Facebook messenger.

Other companies in the country are also beginning to integrate Chatbots into their various services to generate leads, increase sales and help their businesses keep up with a growing customer base.

Quality customer service is crucial to create a more effective business environment in Ghana. Especially in the in the era of social media and stiffer competition. It is therefore vital that, businesses prioritize their customer satisfaction to survive the test of time.

It will only be a matter of time before AI technology and Chatbots becomes standard in business operations. Businesses should therefore consider adopting them, to remain relevant and competitive in the ever-growing digital world.

Columnist: Fatima Tambajang