If you’ve reached out to customer support recently, there’s a pretty good chance your email, chat message, or phone call was fielded by artificial intelligence (AI). Gartner reports that some 85 percent of business-to-consumer transactions will take place without human interaction by 2020. And according to Linda Crawford, CEO of Helpshift, and Nathaniel Gates, founder and CEO of Alegion, that’s largely a good thing.

Crawford and Gates participated in a panel discussion at VentureBeat’s Transform 2018 summit, where they spoke about the (sometimes uncomfortable) marriage of AI and humans in the customer service space.

Crawford said that for Helpshift, an in-app and web-based customer support platform that facilitates customer service interactions,  conversational bots aren’t just a core part of onboarding — in some domains, they’re capable of handling transactions full stop. “We think of them as new ways to think about how we service consumers,” she said.

Helpshift works with retail and financial service companies, but a few of its largest clients are on the gaming side. One is PlayerUnknown, the developer behind blockbuster video game Battlegrounds.

“One of the things that gaming [gives] us is this massive scale,” she said. “A game could go from 10 people using it to millions … You can’t have humans respond to every issue, so we look at ways to have something like an answer bot surface FAQs.”

Most of Helpshift’s customers aim for a deflection rate of about 40 percent, Crawford said — a tall order for game developers, who devote enormous resources to combatting…

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