AI in the Services Industry – Oxymoron or a Leap forward?

9 October, 2019

If you are in a Service Industry of any kind, by definition, you ought to provide intangible products and services that is directly concerned with the Customer. This industry, wide in its nature, covers a range of activities that should essentially add value to individuals and businesses. The final output of such services are not physical products, but an experience, fulfilment and satisfaction, all of which are intangible. This factor of intangibility plays the central factor of our discussion here today.

If Customer experience is so central to this Industry, does it not make sense to have a Human being at the other end delivering the desired experience or fulfilment, while understanding the emotions or expectations of the customers concerned? Or will it make sense to have Artificial Intelligence of cutting edge technology and of top order to deliver high-end and flawless customer experience? After all, Customers are central to this Industry.

Conventional Service Industry experts argue that even if you deploy a machine that is pretty great with all its learning, by virtue of Service, it will never be able to replace a human touch. However, there is a sect of AI enthusiasts who claim that, however great the ‘touch’ of a human is, Humans cannot cater to consumers who are hungry for systems being available 24/7, because Customer issues do not occur only when convenient to Businesses.

The greater advantage of Artificial Intelligence does not lie only in availability and accessibility, but in continuous learning of the AI systems towards the needs of customers from various sources, learning the patterns and be customizable to every single person. This greater strength of catering customizable individual solutions to millions of people, all at the same time, will make Artificial Intelligence irresistible.

But disruption in the Services Industry through Artificial Intelligence to large scale levels, may seem like a long shot and may even seem like it would take a longer duration to arrive. However, for now, Artificial Intelligence is already finding its way in the Services Industry through technologies such as Chatbots that replace activities like email support, predicting long-term and short-term risks in the financial sector, or even helping with complicated medical diagnosis in the healthcare industry. While Businesses can save tons of time in attending to Customers through such technologies, it also helps to learn and analyse the needs of customers through Data Analytics.

It really does not make any sense to argue today if AI matters to the Services Industry or not, because it has already seeped in and there is no turning back. How soon we adapt to the presence of AI in our industries and how we shape our work culture accordingly will determine most of our businesses’ success in the future.