National Customer Service Week: The Future of AI, an Interview with Vincent Mitchell

October 2nd 2023

In celebration of National Customer Service Week, I sat down with Vincent Mitchell from Claim Pilot to discuss the role that AI plays within customer service. Read on to learn more.

Thank you very much for meeting with me to discuss Customer Service Week and more particularly, the future of AI in that space. To start us off, can you tell me a little about yourself, your professional background, and your professional journey to get to where you are today?

My name is Vincent Mitchell, and I am the director of Client Account Services at Claim Pilot. For most of my adult working life, I’ve been in sales or customer service. I worked in sales for a long time, business to business, as well as early on in retail sales. I moved into customer service, started working at Claim Pilot as an Account Manager and was promoted to Director of Client Account Services few years ago.

How do you envision AI assisting with the customer experience? 

I think AI is the future of customer service. Eventually, you won’t need to ever talk to a person, you’ll just have a chat bot. You’ll ask it a question, whether it’s some future generation of Chat GPT, and it’ll know exactly what to tell you because it has a knowledge base that a representative just wouldn’t have access to with such immediacy. I think it is the future, it’s just how far away that future is, that’s the question. I definitely think every company our size or bigger will have some sort of chat bot available for ground floor technical questions to weed out the things that would tie up your lines a little bit.

Do you think that AI removes some of the human element of customer service? 

Most definitely. And for some people, that’s a good thing. But insurance, based on my own experience with clients, definitely has an old school generation and maybe would not like that. Even with really good AI, some people would rather talk to a person and until that mindset is completely gone, you will always have a need for someone to speak with a client at some level. That personal touch is frequently what makes or breaks a situation.

How do you balance AI and the human element when clients are dealing with so much upheaval in the insurance industry and are feeling stressed or anxious? 

For the most part, I think AI tools are going to be just that. They are going to be tools that will be most useful with clients that are more savvy rather than needing to be guided through things.
It’s case by case when people need to have their hand held and be guided to the finish line on whatever they’re working on.

Would you say the most important characteristic for someone working in customer services would be compassion? 

No. I would say patience is the most important thing. For the most part, your compassion can give way to frustration. If you’re faced with something that’s an onerous task, such as having to repeat things, I think patience will get you there when compassion runs out. I would say that being able to cultivate patience when working with clients, especially with particularly difficult clients, is definitely the most the essential characteristic.

What role do you envision automation playing in the customer service space? 

On a base level, just having easy questions answered by some sort of chat bot is going to be standard. There are a lot of things that can be pushed off onto automation, like general troubleshooting. But there’s always going to be a level of coordination for the foreseeable future that people are going to have to do. Anything that involves a lot of in-depth information gathering where you’re dealing with the client, maybe a chat, AI, or some other automated process is not going to be ideal for that. So, I would say it’s a mixed bag. But for the most part, anything that is not an easy yes or no question has to be pushed to people, at least for the meantime.

How can quality customer service help to build strategic partnerships? 

This may be insurance specific, but I’ve met with multiple clients who run an insurance company and they’re golfing buddies with someone else who runs an insurance company. A lot of the time, clients are looking for that face-to-face transparency when working with a company with good customer service. They’re used to talking to someone to get things done and when they miss out on that, they’re not likely to recommend your software or your services. Providing customer service is something that goes beyond just, “this is our software, and these are its features”. If everyone is doing that, what are you doing differently?

Do you have a favorite customer service-related moment or story to share that made you feel proud of the work you do? 

We had an onboarding with a new client and it went fine. But with every onboarding and every client that comes on, we have a lot of customization of our software. But there’s always something more that the client would like. They maybe don’t need it but would really like to see in the software. If they can’t get that, it can be a negative. When it comes to the client’s experience, I am the client’s advocate and I can only do so much. So, what can I do to get them at least to be happy with most of the process even if they didn’t get everything that they wanted?  Answering emails throughout the weekend as soon as they come in was huge. And this client reached out to multiple people within the company to point out how happy he was to receive such bespoke service. So, things like that make me really happy.

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