AI vs. Customer Service Agents — When Human Touch Is a Must-Have

Gladly Team

Read Time

4 minute read

To AI or not to AI? That is the question many CX leaders are asking as they try to integrate modern tools into their workflows. However, in this new reality of human and machine support interactions, it’s not a question of either or – it’s a question of which and when.

The Future of CX — Artfully Blending AI and Human Agents

Agents are certainly irreplaceable in the world of customer service. But CX leaders who learn how and when to best leverage AI support solutions like Sidekick can boost their bottom lines and enhance the customer experience.

AI and customer service agents provide the best experience when used together. But separately, they each provide their unique benefits to your CX workflow, depending on the scenario at hand.

By knowing how to identify the best uses for both AI & automation vs. human agents in your customer service, you can more effectively build a strategy that works for any scenario. Follow along as we break down:

  • Advantages of using human agents for customer support
  • Advantages of using artificial intelligence/AI agents
  • The best scenarios for using human agents vs. AI bots for customer service

Comparing the Benefits of AI vs. Customer Service Agents

Agents and AI can coexist effectively and even flourish under the right circumstances. The key is understanding the unique benefits of each, and identifying areas in your CX infrastructure where you can maximize the potential of both.

Tip From the Head of CX at Rothy's

During a panel discussion on AI Adoption at Gladly Connect Live 2024, Lauren Inman-Semerau shared an insightful comment: 'Our agents are called brand ambassadors. I work hard to have those ambassadors bring that brand experience to life. For me, AI is allowing my brand ambassadors to do that at a deeper level. All of that low-hanging fruit — get it done, get it out to the queue. AI can do that while I'm working to upscale the rest of the agents so they can have deep knowledge of the product, start to sell, and surprise and delight.'

AI-Powered Bots or Agents

  • Relieves pressure on agents during high-volume seasons by offloading simple tasks from their workload
  • Provides a self-service option for customers looking to solve common, simple problems on their own
  • Offers a cost-effective solution for scaling your customer service team by giving more autonomy to workers — making them more individually efficient

Customer Service Agents

  • Can more effectively handle complex issues for customers
  • Deliver the human touch that modern shoppers want in their customer service experience
  • Build long-term customer relationships through empathy and personalized attention
  • Use tools like Gladly Hero to enhance customers’ shopping experience

For further reading: The Importance of Empathy in an AI-Driven World

Identifying the benefits of each method will help your team implement each into your workflow. Each benefit creates new opportunities to make an even greater impact on your customers’ shopping experience, which makes knowing when to use each critical to your overall strategy.

Understanding Each Tool

Knowing the difference between core products available through Gladly can help your team optimize their benefits. Gladly Hero is our No. 1 ranked customer service software designed to boost personalization and performance in your customer experience. Gladly Hero AI adds to this software by integrating AI that helps agents automate processes and streamline workflows. Sidekick is our AI self-service tool — providing your customers with the ability to help themselves.

When to Use AI Self-Service

AI tools are here to stay and brands that learn how to best use them will get a leg up on the competition. Identifying the right opportunities to use AI can increase your return on investment and relieve pressure from your agents.

Resolving Simple, Routine Requests

If you discover customers are often asking the same questions, automating responses to these questions may help your team save time. For example, if your customers are constantly asking about the status of their orders, tools like Gladly Sidekick can help them find this information and resolve their issue promptly without the need for agent intervention.

Automating Transactions

Modern AI tools like Sidekick are now capable of going beyond the basic functionality of chatbots. Your brand can now empower customers through AI by facilitating personalized, self-service transactions like returns or exchanges through readily available customer data, transaction history, and personalized exchange recommendations.

Increasing Capabilities Without Additional Expenses

As your business grows, so will the volume of your customer requests. While hiring an agent for every customer would be ideal, the truth is it can be expensive to scale using humans alone. Self-service AI tools allow your team to scale without the added cost.

How Rothy's Is Humanizing AI

'We bring our agents on the AI journey,' says Inman-Semerau. 'Our bot is named Sandy; she has a CSAT score and an AHT, and she's QA'd just like a regular brand ambassador. We use her to say no to customers. Let your bot tell your customers no, and then if they push back, it goes to a brand ambassador who is suddenly this glorious human making an exception, and it's so brand validating.'

When Human Interaction Is Best for CX

Although AI tools like Sidekick are becoming more advanced by the day, there will never be a replacement for human interaction. Here are a few examples of when to put your agents on the front lines.

Escalated Cases

When customers are experiencing a complex issue, it may be best to route them directly to an agent rather than allowing them to struggle through self-service. Having an experienced agent on hand for these issues will reduce customer frustration and streamline the resolution process.

Phone Interactions

Automation tools like IVR can help to guide and assist customers. However, many customers prefer the personal touch only an agent can provide. Agents offer customers the emotional soft skills that AI cannot — easing frustration and providing an empathetic experience.

High-Value Customers

For loyal customers who repeatedly purchase from your brand, it’s important to put your best foot forward. Providing a human agent to solve high-value issues will reduce your chance of cart abandonment and customer turnover.

Personalized Customer Service Just Makes Sense

Offering a personalized customer experience to your shoppers, you can build long-term relationships and drive new sales. Learn more about the advantages of personalized customer service to get started on your next strategy.

Amplify Your Customer Experience With Sidekick

Gladly Sidekick offers your customers an automated self-service experience without the robotic downfalls of conventional chatbots. Through the use of self-service threads that draw on real-time customer data, Sidekick can resolve customer issues quickly with a personalized touch that other AI solutions don’t provide.

Start building your AI strategy by adding Gladly Sidekick to your CX tool belt. Using Sidekick, you can help your agents do their best — reducing their workload and streamlining requests.


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