The Emotional Intuition Factor: Why Humans are More Important Than AI in Customer Care


Artificial intelligence will revolutionize customer care, but it will never fully replace the emotional intuition of humans. 

Are you familiar with the Turing Test? It’s a question about AI and robotics which seems very simple, but which contains within it incredible depths and truly boggling philosophical implications. It’s defined as this:

“A test for intelligence in a computer, requiring that a human being should be unable to distinguish the machine from another human being by using the replies to questions put to both.”

In other words, if the AI program is so realistic that it can pass as human, if you aren’t sure if the answer is coming from a person or machine, it passes the Turing Test. And that’s amazing to think about, because that leads to some rather big questions, of the sort explored in shows like Westworld and Humans and movies like AI. If there is a point where there is no real difference in how machines and humans act, is there a difference in them overall?

I’d say yes. And more to the point, I think that the Turing Test is a little misleading. Because there will always be a point where humans have something that no artificial intelligence program can. Humans have emotional intelligence, and intuition that can’t be replaced by an algorithm.

That’s why there will be no way, and nor should there be a way, to replace humans in customer care. Whether your customer care is in-house or you work with a trusted third-party customer-care partner employing cutting-edge technology, your people will continue your most valuable asset. There is no test that can overcome that.

Augmented Intelligence

AI is going to be a wonderful tool for customer care, and it is already being implemented. As it grows, it will have more and more of an impact. We’ve been talking for the last couple of weeks about the importance of artificial intelligence, including how it can analyze the speech of both employees and customers while analyzing data to provide real-time coaching and advice. We’ve talked about the use of predictive analytics to prepare your team for customer issues, both broadly and specifically. And we’ve talked about how increasingly-sophisticated bots will free up your team to answer the more difficult questions.

To me, that’s the most important one. Because while bots are amazing, and getting even more impressive, there is a hard limit to what they can accomplish. The reason why shows like Westworld are so far-fetched is because the robots are able to understand subtle nuances in human behavior.

This is maybe most true when a human is lying, or not being honest about what they want. They might even be being dishonest with themselves. You know, it is a dramatic TV show, and people are complex. So a man who says he doesn’t want something might actually want it, and the robot can suss that out, no matter how convincing he is. Even if he has convinced himself.

Imagine a bot doing that. If a human says “no, I don’t want this upsell” then the bot will react a certain way. Maybe it will try again, but there is no way for it to differentiate the degrees of intention behind each response. More sophisticated bots have emotional intelligence, but they don’t really have emotional intuition. They just have an algorithm which can make assumptions based on prior interactions.

And that’s amazing. At some point, it becomes difficult to differentiate. But there will always be that next step that robots and AI won’t be able to cross. That’s the human factor.

Customers might be scared, uncertain, hesitant. They might not know their problems, or know what they want. But they aren’t programs. They never are. And so a program can never have a true interaction, or a true understanding.

Customer will never be robots. Customers will never be artificially intelligent. They’ll always be people, with real intelligence, and real complexity. That’s why customer care will always need people. AI can do wonders, but it can never replicate the mystery of how humans collide with each other in this whirring roller rink of life.

RDI-Connect is your full-service call center and customer care partner. We combine cutting-edge technology with superior hiring and training procedures to give your organization the support it needs. Your success is ours. To learn more about how Artificial Intelligence will impact your business, please download our white paper, “Artificial Intelligence, Real Results: How AI Will Improve Your Call Center Experience”. To learn more about how we can partner with you, please connect with us today.

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RDI Corporation was founded in 1978 and is headquartered in Blue Ash, Ohio. We provide precise business solutions through a fully integrated outsourcing model and our clients ranged from mid-sized corporations to distinguished Fortune 500 companies.