Customer service

Welcome to the Future: Customer Service 4.0

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It seems to be an almost never-ending concern for mankind that advanced technology decreases jobs rather than increasing them. In truth, technology is having little effect on the number of jobs that are available, but instead is creating more quality jobs for humans.

Human vs Machine

In 1913, Henry Ford introduced the first automotive assembly line. At the time, humans were required to perform individual tasks that were eventually perfected enough to now be accomplished more and more by robots. Rather than taking away jobs, however, this freed up humans to innovate and invent advancements in automotive engineering such as air bags, power steering, better braking systems and even seat belts.

The truth is, most humans aren’t happy doing a job they feel a monkey could do. There is something deep within the bones of almost every human that wants to explore, advance, innovate and create – something machines just aren’t capable of.

What machines are doing is taking on tasks that don’t require human complexity of thought. In fact, human intelligence is growing and as human intelligence grows so does our ability to program machines to perform tasks that were once too complex for a machine to understand.

From the earliest days of computers, they had to be programmed to understand the most basic concepts, which allowed them to then “compute” outcomes faster than a human brain. But they could not compute outcomes they had not been programmed to compute. Conversely, what was programmed once did not need to be programmed again, but could be built upon instead.

When computers first started being used by the public, they could only recognize very specific commands coded in a very specific way. Today, almost every language on earth has been programmed into computers allowing them to recognize a wide range of questions phrased in natural language.

The Future of customer service

All of this evolution has brought us to the point where technology is poised to do far more than just repetitive tasks like assembling a brake line or adding 36 lbs. of flour to an industrial cake recipe. Tomorrow’s tech is poised to actually interact with humans in a way that only humans were able to do previously.

After several decades of inputting information into computers, they can now not only recognize natural language, but syntax and even more complicated nuances like sarcasm and wit. Today’s artificial intelligence isn’t just smart – it has a sense of humor. What’s more, modern artificial intelligence isn’t just capable of telling a great joke, it is capable of responding with empathy. This is technology 4.0 and it is poised to take on one of the most challenging tasks in business: customer service.

Think about it, computers

  • Have no feelings, so they never get hurt.
  • Have no concept of death, which means it has no concept of its time being wasted – which means it cannot be impatient.
  • Never have a bad day and cannot be angry.
  • Cannot “think outside the box” which is both a benefit and a drawback

Once again, however, rather than computers and technology taking away jobs, it simply provides better quality jobs for humans.

Imagine that instead of a giant call center housing hundreds of employees in a warehouse-like environment, you instead have a giant server that can answer hundreds of calls in a natural speaking voice. If the customer has issues or concerns that the customer service 4.0 program cannot answer, the customer is transferred to a human employee working from home. With the money saved on buildings, utilities and hardware, they can afford to pay their employees a higher wage instead.

No matter what language the customer speaks, the Customer Service 4.0 program can help them in their own language and transfer them if necessary to a live agent that speaks that same language.

If the customer cracks a joke or makes a small witticism, the Customer Service 4.0 program can respond accordingly. In addition, if the Customer Service 4.0 program detects a southern accent, or the customer engages in small talk before getting to their issue, the program can adapt to offer more social and less businesslike responses. If the program detects a New York accent, or the sharp, clipped speech characteristics of someone who is all business, it can adapt to be straight, direct and to the point.


While artificial intelligence is not quite at the stage of being able to accomplish all of this just yet, it is poised and on the brink. Today’s smart businesses, however, will keep their eye on how this tech is advancing and start looking for opportunities to begin integrating it into their current customer service models. While artificial intelligence may not yet be smart enough to understand your customer’s problem and respond with empathy, it is quickly becoming more than capable of doing away with the much-despised phone tree.

About the Author:

Jasmine Williams covers the good and the bad of today’s business and marketing. She was rummaging through her grandma’s clothes before it was cool and she’s usually hunched over a book or dancing in the kitchen, trying hard to maintain rhythm, but delivering some fine cooking (her family says so). Tweet her @JazzyWilliams88

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