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Think about how much of your day involved some form of AI in customer service and support.
AI is around us and increasing all the time— from voice-activated chatbots to checking in via an airport kiosk. If you're thinking about using AI to enhance your company's customer service, then you'll be part of a growing trend of organizations committed to putting their customer first.
To help you better understand the direct benefits of AI in customer service, we'll start by delving into the customer experience as it exists now. Then, we'll explore the three main advantages of AI in customer service, namely:
We'll also analyze the different AI functions that contribute to customer service and sift through any drawbacks, all to help you make an informed decision about including AI in your company's future.
A chatbot is another name for your AI virtual agent. It's a computer program that 'chats' to your customers through an app or a website. It is an automated agent that answers frequently asked questions and act as a virtual link between your company and your consumer.
First iterations of chatbots, usually automated phone operators, caused a lot of frustration. As we've seen with Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri, voice-activated bots and chatbot technology, in general, are getting more accurate all the time.
In fact, as many as 74% of consumers prefer chatbots while looking for answers to simple questions and a whopping 65% of consumers feel comfortable handling an issue without a human agent.
Just as products and services have changed, so too have the expectations of customers. Our age is defined by communication, input, and connection. Customers have more choices available to them now, and brand loyalty hangs equally between the value of the product and the quality of customer service.
Attitudes and behaviors have changed, and companies need to be ready to give customers and consumers the answers and support they need. Marketing might catch them, but it's customer service that keeps them, so the better you understand your consumer—what they like, what they don't like, and solving their problems proactively—the more likely they are to stick with you.
Positive customer service is essential now that customers have platforms to be vocal about their experience. Consumers will stay with companies that they feel understand them and can solve their problems accurately and efficiently.
Enter the benefits of AI in customer service.
At the moment, there is hardly a website you visit that doesn't have a pop up with a little chat box asking if you need any help. This is essentially the same as the person in the store asking if they can help you find something.
Quite a departure from the company's contact details once being hidden in a faint font at the end of a long scroll in hopes of avoiding questions, cancellations, or confrontations.
Now, companies are prompting conversations with customers, improving interactions and relationships all the time. And it's AI that makes this possible.
By automating mundane and repetitive tasks, you can free up your customer service agents to tackle more complex problems. Therefore, you're decreasing operational costs by reducing the number of additional human resources needed while increasing the number of queries your customer service department (working with AI) can deal with each day.
More calls answered, or messages responded to equals more service given. AI customer service agents don't need vacations or charge over time. Having chatbots as part of your customer service team frees up resources and enhances overall workflow.
Happy customers are loyal customers, and loyal customers can be your best brand advocates.
Therefore, retaining your customers is essential.
If your company can attend to your customers' needs without making them wait in a virtual line for an hour—all the better. They get the same resolution in a fraction of the time.
Using natural language processing to understand customer needs, an AI-powered chatbot understands the context and nuances of every customer conversation. If that’s not impressive enough, an AI virtual agent combines conversations with robotic process automation to speed up customer service processes even further. They can open new accounts, process invoices, and much more, improving every subsequent interaction.
Let's break down the three ways that using AI in customer service improves customer satisfaction:
One of the great benefits of AI in customer service is what it can do for your company as a whole.
When there are changes to your products or services, it is easier and faster to update your AI agents than retrain your employees. Where it can be difficult for employees to stay abreast of customers' ever-changing demands and needs, AI functionality actually increases with the complexity of queries.
AI agents can also increase sales by recommending alternative products to customers, mainly by anticipating their needs through proactive problem-solving. Essentially, your virtual agents can solve a problem for your customer—before it's even a problem.
They can handle a barrage of queries at once without getting overwhelmed, and they will be eternally loyal to your company and not lured away by a company with a pinball machine.
Doesn't this all sound great? Let's investigate the different capabilities AI is using to lead to the benefits we just reviewed.
By quickly identifying and classifying the customer's problem, AI agents can easily route calls or emails to the appropriate agent or department. This prevents your customers from having to wade through a maze of questions and diversions to find, or get, a response.
In the clip below, watch what how a virtual agent seamlessly hands over customer interaction to a human agent.
You've seen this at work in Amazon and Spotify; AI prediction is increasingly accurate.
With Conversational AI, virtual agents can hold back-and-forth dialogue, pick up on inflections, intensity, and tone to adjust their response to the customer's needs, allowing for better understanding.
By accessing customers' data, AI can preempt complaints based on feedback from current products or experiences. It's proactive, instead of reactive, problem solving, providing quality and consistency to your customers.
The benefits of AI in customer service are not solely customer-facing but can also help your human service team. AI agents can produce guidelines, suggest next steps, or recommend alternatives while your warm-blooded members deal with a specific question or complaint.
Moreover, monotonous or repetitive tasks that would frustrate an employee can be diverted to a bot, leading to fewer mistakes.
To implement virtual agents into your company, you need to have a structured approach before even considering taking the plunge.
Your AI customer service agent is your first line of defense, but it cannot be your last. It needs to know when to transfer to a human agent, and that agent needs to be able to quickly and efficiently pick up the thread.
Do you want to offer round-the-clock help for your customer? Are there things you need to optimize within the customer service team? Your chatbot is your first contact with the company, so they need to be better than good. Learn about the six things you need to know before selecting a chatbot to get you started.
Now you have your why, you need to know the how. Will the platform integrate to your already existing systems? How does it handle data? These are just a few of the questions you need to ask chatbot platforms before selecting one. Luckily for you, we’ve compiled 100+ questions and answers to help you select a platform that suits your business.
By choosing to include AI virtual agents in your customer service team, you are, in essence, choosing to put your customer first.
Employing chatbots as your first line of communication means you're showing your customer that their needs, problems, and questions deserve a fast and effortless resolution.
We are an impatient society, looking for quick answers and correct directions. Retain your customers by being a company that is agile, reliable, and available 24/7. To help you do that seamlessly and without friction, let us show you what our platform can do by booking a demo or signing up to our free trial.
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