The Pros and Cons of AI for Complaints Management
by Emma Laxton on August 23, 2023
Workpro Chief Executive Officer (Ken Naismith) features in an SME Today News article discussing how AI is revolutionising the world of case management. There is no doubt that AI is opening up new opportunities in case handling but there are pitfalls to be aware of. Case handling in the complaints world is ultimately about people, and Ken is keen to remind companies that keeping the person at the centre of a case is pivotal.
We’ve been writing about the challenges and benefits of considerate automation for over a year but with the advance of AI this is quickly becoming a hot topic. AI is a rapidly moving feast and like many companies we want to embrace the technology in a way that is appropriate for our sector. Jumping on a bandwagon without first considering the pros and cons is just not wise! So how does an organisation make the most of the pros while avoiding the cons?
Automation vs. AI
Firstly, lets define the difference between automation and AI. Artificial intelligence is able to examine massive volumes of data, find patterns, and make predictions or choices using algorithms, statistical models, and machine learning approaches.
Meanwhile, automation is based on rules and, instead of making decisions, it follows coded instructions.
Automation is great for acknowledging complaints, allocating case identifiers and letting people know they’re in the system.
AI, on the other hand, has the capacity to interpret what complainants are saying, to look for the emotional content of their language, and use that to make a decision on whether or not to escalate the issue to human contact.
Is AI a ‘good thing’?
The profound benefits of AI include a huge boost to the global economy. A recent PwC report suggested that AI could add $15.7 trillion by 2030 in a range of sectors such as transportation, healthcare, finance and manufacturing.
AI proponents promise so many new possibilities – from virtual doctors where there are shortages, to AI testing beer for better brewing! However, this is counterbalanced with the fear that AI automation could lead to job losses or even an exaggerated vision that AI robots could take over the world.
In a more realistic scenario in the markets Workpro serves, AI can be used to quickly identify if a complainant is vulnerable for example, flagging any issues to a human case worker for more appropriate handling of their case.
Nevertheless, if a complaint handler or caseworker is completely replaced with AI, there is a risk that interactions could be impersonal and leave customers feeling like their case is not being handled with compassion and empathy.
There also need to be safeguards to ensure fairness is built in – a key principle of good complaints handling. AI could help to remove potential human prejudice from case handling, but it could also replicate biases if not set up correctly. As the World Economic Forum points out “A lot of existing human bias can be transferred to machines because technologies are not neutral; they are only as good, or bad, as the people who develop them.”
What we have to work out now is the balance of effectiveness – how can we effectively use AI to help customers, and their customers, without dehumanising connections with people in their time of need?
Pros and Cons of AI in case management
As we’ve discussed above, AI genuinely represents an opportunity to do things better and to enhance the service that customers receive. However, we must take care to avoid the potential downsides.
To help you weigh up the pros and cons (and highlight some of the ethical considerations) we’ve pulled out some of the most important points to consider:
Pros of AI:
- Improved Efficiency: AI analyses large amounts of data to find patterns and trends. This can uncover recurring issues and help organisations to identify underlying causes ultimately leading to process improvements. It can also be used to automate decision processes such as complaints triaging which reduces admin work, improves efficiency and allows caseworkers to focus more on aspects of casework that need human skill and experience.
- Personalisation: AI can enhance the experience of using automated communication methods such as chatbots and automated e-mails by accessing the history and preferences of the complainant in order to personalise responses. More personalised communication can enhance customer satisfaction by ensuring customers receive a solution or suggestion which is more tailored to their specific situation.
- 24/7 Availability & Quick Responses: A team of real-life employees can’t typically be available 24/7. If you want to provide customer service around the clock, then using AI to provide instant responses can be very helpful. AI can be used to address common or routine requests 24/7 and even to provide preliminary solutions or holding statements for more complex complaints until a real person becomes available.
Cons of AI:
- Bias and Unfairness: As mentioned above, AI learns from the information it processes. If that information contains biases then the AI will take this on and become biased in the same way. This may mean that AI could make unfair decisions on certain cases leading to customer dissatisfaction and potentially even ethical issues.
- Lack of Empathy: When dealing with delicate issues such as a complaint, the human touch is exceptionally important. People want to be met with empathy and understanding which can’t be provided by artificial intelligence. If AI misunderstands a complaint or provides an unhelpful or incomplete resolution this could lead to customers feeling unheard and frustrated, ultimately damaging customer satisfaction.
- Lack of Creativity: AI can only make decisions based on the limited data that it has processed. Whereas, humans can make creative decisions based on real-world knowledge, checking in with colleagues and carrying out new research. For complex or unique cases AI may struggle to make nuanced judgements or come up with new solutions.
How are complaints handling platforms looking to integrate AI?
Having considered the pros and cons, let’s take a look at some real-life use cases of AI in complaints management. These short-term applications are already being implemented in some places and might give you some ideas of how AI could enhance your processes:
- Triage Systems: With the help of Natural Language Processing (NLP), AI can recognise emotive language within complaints and recognise if something is urgent, or if a complainant needs special assistance. This allows it to file complaints in order of urgency or escalate an individual complaint to the appropriate level. Using AI to enhance your triage system can ensure urgent complaints are highlighted and remove unnecessary manual admin for caseworkers.
- Decision Support & Root Cause Analysis: It can be extremely time-consuming to comb through valuable qualitative data, such as the data collected in customer feedback forms. AI can help to expediate this process by recognising, grouping and highlighting themes. This ensures you’re made aware of the key issues and supports you to make decisions accordingly. Furthermore, highlighting patterns may even make it easier to spot trends and identify root causes for different types of complaints.
- Personalisation in Automation: Finally, AI can help with personalisation in places where there is already automation such as automated e-mails and chatbots. AI can access and incorporate customer data, making sure people receive a personalised service and increasing overall satisfaction.
Workpro is in constant development in line with advancements in technology. Naturally, AI is a key focus for us currently and we’re ensuring we’ll take advantage of it without getting carried away with it. If you would like to know more, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org