Sage: Improving Customer Service with AI

Just how far has Malaysia come since the government announced plans to develop a National Artificial Intelligence Framework in 2017?

IDC Asia/Pacific Enterprise Cognitive/AI survey highlights that AI adoption in the region isat 14% across Southeast Asia as compared to just 8% last year. For Malaysia, it was a 32 percentage points jump in planned adoption of AI in just two years.

Recent developments in AI and automation have made this technology more accessible to business of all sizes, with the potential to drive efficiency, decrease costs, and much more for businesses here. When used correctly, AI benefits customers by providing reliable, 24/7 assistance and personally tailor their sales and service journey. Forbes reports that, like all emerging technologies, some customers are resistant to AI, but 68% would accept AI support if it made their lives easier.

Customer Centric AI Developments in Malaysia

Malaysian companies have slowly but surely begun to embrace AI, yet more impressively, startups here are developing AI customer centric solutions. In Malaysia, a winner of the ASEAN Rice Bowl Startup in the Best DeepTech, Artificial Intelligence, and Big Data categories, Glueck Technologies have got their eyes set on AI solutions to understand the customer so they can be better served, focusing on comprehensive human emotion analysis. The algorithm is designed to understand the human emotional state, profiles, and responses to real-life stimuli. Their solution includes a camera, software and dashboard link to help businesses measure the emotions of their shoppers—in real-time—and compares it to existing data of someone’s emotions, age, gender, etc. This way, companies can more intelligently target their campaigns and figure out how customers feel about their brands using more precise and a big-scale data.

So, seeing as how the shift is now towards adopting AI, should you consider investing in AI customer service technology as well? In this article, I will discuss the benefits, and disadvantages as well as provide some examples of how it is used to help you decide if artificial intelligence could improve customer service for your business.

Benefits of artificial intelligence for customer service.

1. Greater customer support

With the help of AI applications, companies can provide customers with round-the-clock support. Since customer activity is often higher outside regular working hours, AI customer service applications, such as chatbots, provide customers with support whenever they need it. AI-powered chatbots continually learn from previous experiences to offer better support, they don’t get frustrated with customers and can be programmed to elevate issues to human managers, when needed.

2. Personalised sales and service journeys

AI software can collect and analyse customer data far more efficiently than human employees, allowing companies to gain a deeper understanding of their customers. This then can produce individually tailored customer experiences as machine learning helps to recommend products based on a customer’s past behaviours or redesign websites in real time to suit customer’s browsing habits and requirements. Thus, increasing customer satisfaction, driving more sales and higher levels of brand loyalty.

Sage introduced our own smart assistant chatbot, Pegg a few years ago which has greatly helped customer service. For instance, to help deal with the challenges of payroll administration, Sage extended the capability of Pegg to payroll customer support services. Pegg allows customers to ask questions about Payroll administration and compliance with HMRC requirements in the UK via a smart assistant if they choose, rather than waiting in line to speak to a colleague. In this way, users can get answers to product related queries quickly and efficiently. Also, rather than calling the help desk, customers can simply click a button within the product to launch Pegg and begin to ask and find answers to product related queries.

3.Artificial intelligence for self-service

The way customers prefer to engage and interact with brands is changing. Most customers, especially tech-savvy millennials, would rather solve their own issues and not interact with humans.  AI applications can collect information such as the customer’s online actions, past orders or usage and prior conversations with support teams. This information can then be used to make calculated assumptions about what the customer needs to resolve their problem. Solutions could include personally tailored help pages, specific product options or AI chatbot support.

Where AI customer service needs further improvement

Since AI technology is relatively new and has only recently become mainstream, there are still a few kinks to iron out. With the further development of AI applications, these disadvantages should mostly be overcome.

GDPR and AI software

A natural feature of AI applications is their ability to collect and process large amounts of information. While customer privacy and security are significant, the GDPR highlights this concern. Some critics have said that GDPR will stunt AI, given under the new regulations, customers must opt-in to data collection and companies aren’t allowed to profile customers using an algorithm. However, the full impact has yet to be determined and court cases will probably provide the final verdict.

Does artificial intelligence lack the human touch?

To be honest, yes. AI customer service applications may be able to understand human requests and make logical decisions but they are unable to display empathy or handle emotions. As such, they might not provide a great experience for customers that are upset or stressed. The best customer service experience requires a mixture of human elements and AI applications. Customers want emotional as well as practical support when in a crisis, but human representatives can often solve issues faster with the assistance of AI technology. Forbes recommends that companies only use AI technology for objective yes or no queries or to reach outcomes via an algorithm. For everything else, companies should use human representatives. It’s about getting the right balance.

How to integrate artificial intelligence into your customer service

Before you integrate AI into customer service, consider clear customer service goals which will help you answer the following questions and implement AI strategically.

  • How would AI be used to reach these goals?
  • How would AI achieve better results than your current strategy?
  • How would AI fit with or complement your current customer service methods?
  • What relationship would AI have with your employees?
  • What point in the customer journey would AI appear?

Available AI customer service applications

With a plan in place, you can then look for the most suitable AI solution. Thorough research is always required, especially with regards to integration with your tech stack but some of the solutions below are currently popular choices.


AI-powered chatbots are one of the most widely adopted forms of artificial intelligence. It uses natural language processing to understand customer’s requests and provide “smart” answers.

Smart emails

AI-powered email applications can help you drive engagement and open rates by selecting the right words, writing catchy subject lines, and increasing personalisation.

The future of artificial intelligence and customer service

With so many applications and benefits, it won’t be long before AI customer service becomes the norm. In fact, IBM predicts that by 2020, machines will handle 85% of customer interactions.

Still undecided? You shouldn’t be.

This article was contributed by Sushil Singh, Chief Growth Officer, Sage Asia