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NEWS

Microsoft takes its AI push to customer service call centers

By Stephen Nellis

(Reuters) – Microsoft on Tuesday said it will introduce new artificial intelligence tools for customer service call centers.

Microsoft, which has backed ChatGPT creator OpenAI, is taking AI technology into a number of fields of the business world with what it calls Copilot technology, which is capable of summarizing emails and crafting PowerPoint slides as part of the company’s Office software package.

But by taking Copilot to call centers, Microsoft will be putting its technology into a field where it is not the dominant player, hoping to gain ground against rivals such as Salesforce.com and Zoom.

For customer support tasks, the new AI tool will be able to scour a company’s help manuals and materials to train chatbots with better answers to questions that customers might ask in a chat window. Many of those tasks are already automated, and Microsoft’s hope is to make them better, said Jeff Comstock, corporate vice president of Dynamics 365 Customer Service at Microsoft.

But the real benefit is expected to be to human customer service agents fielding phone calls. Those agents are often sitting at a computer with multiple applications open at once – many of them outdated and slow – while trying to find the information to help the customer.

Comstock said the Microsoft tools will aim to take in all of that information so that customer service agents can navigate the apps they need with natural language to get answers faster and easier.

“The service space is, unfortunately, just rife with toil and drudgery. There’s tons of tools, and they have to use lots of processes just to do the most basic sort of tasks. It’s a brutal experience,” Comstock said. “And so, our goal is to help them in the flow of work to reduce that toil and drudgery.”

Microsoft said the new contact center software will become available on July 1.

 

(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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