In a world of fading customer loyalty and stiff online competition, how do brands boost their customer service game while managing costs? Artificial intelligence (AI) can help in a surprising number of ways.
In a survey conducted by NTT two years ago (sample size 203), roughly 1 out of 3 organizations in the U.S. use AI or similar automation to manage 30% of their customer experience, while another quarter of those surveyed use AI for an even greater number of services.
Here are a few ways your organization should consider using AI to enhance your customer service.
1. Chatbot-Based Customer Support
Web-based chatbots are undoubtedly the most popular application of AI among those cited in the above survey, and it's easy to guess why. As I wrote in a peer-reviewed paper in a 2021 edition of the journal Applied Marketing Analytics, Measuring the Vvalue of Artificial Intelligence in Improving Search and Chatbot Outcomes: “Typically, digital marketers are left to guess what those agendas are by observing click paths. However, when visitors interact with … a chatbot, they remove this uncertainty — they literally say what they are looking to accomplish. Text-rich disclosures of purpose (e.g. ‘I need to find X’ or ‘How can I do Y?’).”
It makes these interactions ideal for AI automation.
2. A Robotic Interpretation of Customer Voicemails
When customers phone your support line, conducting transcription and even sentiment analysis by AI saves time and improves accuracy before the call ever reaches a human service representative. Machine learning is far from infallible, especially with unusual proper nouns or cases of poor phone connections, but these AI interventions can definitely accelerate the process of quick and accurate issue resolution.
3. Round-the-Clock, Round-the-Year Support
Customers want service on their terms. Brands must be available and responsive to customers at all times. Automated customer service in all channels can make this possible.
In social media, for instance, the quick identification of a problem can alert humans at night and on weekends and holidays when AI has made the judgment call that a swift response is needed to quell what could be a PR disaster. It does this by consuming data points such as how many people are complaining, the subject of their brand complaint, and in some cases even the number of followers of those who are upset.
Everyone by now knows that TikTok can make a song or meme go viral in what seems like a flash fire. Your brand can use AI as the social media monitoring equivalent of the satellites, high-resolution cameras and drones used to detect brush fires before they turn into catastrophic conflagrations.
4. Improved Human Interactions with Customers
Artificial intelligence can play a big role in augmenting human interactions with customers. Two of the most significant ways is through AI-augmented messaging and AI email tagging.
AI-augmented messaging enables customer service agents to handle a big part of customer queries. Through propensity modeling, it detects what standard messages it “thinks” would be most appropriate.
With AI email tagging, AI-powered programs scan emails, tag them, and direct them to the right office. This saves time and enables service reps to focus on the more complex tasks that cannot be completed without human intervention.
5. Personalized User Experiences in a Site’s FAQs
AI is capable of analyzing huge data sets, drawing on such information as past behavior and location, and suggesting relevant self-help content to customers. As a result, customers are able to find solutions without calling customer service.
6. Giving Greater Meaning to Customer Data Touchpoints
AI can analyze behavioral patterns of customers and the sentiment of their emails and in-person and automated chat requests to improve responses over time. Generative AI can even, in aggregate, learn from the outcomes of issue response offers, such as the refunds, discounts, and promo codes used to keep a loyal customer from leaving for a competing brand.
7. Predictive Insights
It is important for businesses to create experiences that become a part of customers’ lives. Predictive personalization makes customers feel that each brand experience is tailored for them. Using predictive insights, AI has elevated this work, making it easier to avoid problems before they occur, especially with the customers who have a long history and large long-term value (LTV).
8. Smart Task Management
Your best customer service agents have a talent for issue resolution. A subset of those superstar agents are also good at task management. AI can help the rest of them manage follow-up in a way that is comprehensive and timely.
9. Real-Time Writing Assistance
Sometimes a canned response just isn’t good enough. A generative AI assistant to your customer service agents can produce grammatically correct and well-researched responses in a tone the agent can request. While it should not be used to totally replace the human touch, in moderation, this technique of “writing coaching” can help agents score a win with upset customers when it most counts.
10. Product Innovation
Your customer service team has always been a source for valuable (and often common-sense!) product extensions or new product innovation. With the help of AI, even more marketing opportunities can emerge as an impartial analysis of all your customer data does what machines do best: sift through terabytes of data to find meaning humans can miss.
The Bottom Line
AI can help you save money while freeing your customer service team to do what machines cannot. As a recent Fortune magazine article articulated, AI might not replace you, but a person who uses AI could. Nowhere is this more true than in the world of customer service.
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