Automation of services has picked up its fastest pace by now, giving users the much-needed facility to fulfill their regular tasks. With advanced systems powered by automated solutions, users can now book a restaurant reservation, order a pizza, book a movie ticket, hotel room and even make a clinic appointment. Customer service industry is gaining much momentum especially due to disruption of Artificial Intelligence – a technological breakthrough that has taken almost every business industry by storm.
By transforming customer service interactions, AI-powered digital solutions are prepared to improve every aspect of your business including online customer experience, loyalty, brand reputation, preventive assistance and even generation of revenue streams. Digital market moguls project that by 2020 more than 85% of all customer support communications will be conducted without engaging any customer service representatives.
This blog delves into the subject a little more to convey how AI-powered customer service can possibly help customer support agents online.
AI for customer service: what is real?
According to a recent Zendesk study, as much as 42% of B2C customers showed more interest in purchasing after experiencing good customer service. The same study also goes to claim that 52% of them stopped purchasing due to a single disappointing customer support interaction.
There is no argument that forward thinkers consider AI technology as a solution that will open the doors for real-time self-service for customer service platforms. Also, it is true that the technology has power enough to change the way customer service solutions are designed. However, there is a massive hype floating around about how AI assisted responses will completely replace the need for human agents.
Though most of the excitement about AI is due to its two major capabilities:
- a) Machine learning and
- b) Natural language processing (NLP)
Machine learning is attributed to a powerful computing system that churns a large amount of data to learn from it. Facebook messenger, request suggestions and spam folders are everyday examples of AI machine learning process.
Natural language processing supports your daily interactions with AI software using its ability to process and interpret spoken/written messages. Siri, Cortana, Alexa are best examples of evolved NLP.
Artificial Intelligence mainly revolves around these two innovative capabilities to power the job of customer support agents. Its cognitive computing power enables businesses to offer efficient services to customers.
A recent Gartner report suggests that 55% of established companies either have started making investments in the potential of artificial intelligence or are planning to do so by 2020.
Let’s learn more about how much AI can really do for today’s customer service representative working in a call center and for businesses they work for.
AI as a brand messenger
In last 5 years, we have seen social media flooded with people devouring messaging apps. They are generously relying on messaging apps not just to communicate with their closed ones, but also to engage with brands they are curious about or familiar with. This is why AI-powered, customized, real-time messaging bot services could provide an incredible opportunity for businesses to connect with new and existing customers and foster a unique revenue stream.
Facebook Messenger leverages powerful chatbots integrated with cognitive capabilities based on this idea. Other leading industries that are now seen galloping towards this space include fashion, tourism, food chains, airline, e-commerce, hotels, etc. Consumers are thrilled to welcome new AI technology for services they avail, and they are happy to interact with their favorite brands to book flights, hotel accommodation, travel trip, or get fashion tips. The world is watching eagerly for next industries to adopt the trend.
AI for well-informed actions
AI is swiftly disrupting the customer service space with its massive power to multi-task and quick-respond with automated queries. By limiting research time and offering considerable action plans, AI-assisted automation of customer service platforms can generate responses with accuracy and speed that humans can’t deliver.
According to Forrester report on customer service trends, we have already stepped into the era of automated, smarter and more strategic customer service. Individuals will appreciate pre-emptive actions delivered by intelligent agents fuelled with artificial intelligence.
AI for customer service will not only make self-service interfaces more intuitive and economical, but its intelligence will help anticipate specific customer needs learning from their contexts, previous chat history, and preferences. AI integrated system will capture infinite online data in order to:
- Identify customer issues
- Process and learn from gathered information
- Define customer behavior pattern
- Determine their frequent decisions and preferences
- Respond with solutions and suitable products
- Prompt with proactive alert messages
- Suggest personalized offers and discounts
- Offer real-time support (FAQs, help blogs, reports)
- Resolve issues before they arrive
- Minimize customer abandonment rate and complaints
With such wide scope of intelligent assistance and pre-emptive recommendations, companies will leave behind rich customer experience.
One-time investment for timeless merits
Stinting on cost is the first priority for businesses as on today. When it comes to call center practices, it takes a good deal of money and time in hiring and training staff for customer service, as well as in erecting the whole brick-and-mortar infrastructure. Just 10 support individuals can cost you as much as $35000, or even more if recruits frequently quit (attrition being quite high in the call center industry) – which is a nightmare.
On the other hand, automating responses via AI enabled customer service platforms can minimize this burden by reducing cost and time. This is what Watson as an AI platform does. It is a pre-programmed intelligent system stuffed with domain-specific knowledge base. All it requires is to be trained, just once. Upon introducing new process changes, just re-configure the software instead of retraining your entire support staff.
Such AI assisted platforms take over the same routine customer requests, enabling call center employees to work on more important and grueling tasks at hand.
AI controlled Multi channels of support
AI technology is not just for giving direct assistance to customers, but it can also be used to usher customer service path. At times when issues get complicated, an intelligent support system will have a certain capability to direct customers towards parallel support channels. For instance, if a telecommunication customer service agent is unable to resolve queries regarding technical network issues, the chat AI can identify the problem as specific to dedicated support channel and shift customers towards it.
Thus, AI for customer service process brings comprehensive balance in the support system. While customers receive efficient solutions, agents fulfill their service commitments and relieve loaded support channels from the hectic rush.
AI machine learning for extra support
If not directly, AI functions best even indirectly for customers and service agents alike. Human representatives can take extra assistance they need to serve the B2C customers. It can speed up the resolution process by discovering and delivering solutions in time on behalf of agents. By learning from repeated issues that are frequently resolved, machine learning power enables customer support to be ready for tough challenges that chatbots sometimes fail to address.
Any call center with AI machine learning capabilities can perform well by suggesting accurate solutions to specific issues. AI’s learning potential to sense human behavior patterns can contribute to both agents and customers.
Precise predictions and insight
You must have felt surprised at how Amazon e-commerce app knows what you would like based on your frequent page visits, cart items selection and social sharing. That right there is the essence of machine learning algorithm, and it can be also used to predict the kind of places, entertainment or merchandises you prefer. Similarly, AI can make predictions about what customers would want, which ultimately benefits customer service agents. Such insightful predictions can be translated into future actions to be taken by customers based on their choices, likes and visited contents.
AI suggests next best action for agents by learning about the most suitable responses to the customer-generated ticket. This is quite helpful in a business where product range and number of actions are high. Agents who are new to the business especially get a great amount of help and direction.
Not only that, once predictive analytics tools are integrated into customer support, it will be easy for agents to grasp their interaction quality by knowing in advance – the customer satisfaction level and overall customer experience.
Uninterrupted momentum of service
Who doesn’t appreciate customer support with fast response and uninterrupted service? One of the surprising benefits from using AI for automating responses is its independence from time constraints and holiday offs. This means that at any given moment customers will be able to interact with AI robot to resolve issues. Such uninterrupted customer service helps organizations stay responsive 24/7 to address incoming customer inquiries. As there will be an assurance of consistent support, problems faced in case of human customer service reps will be effectively eliminated.
The results are:
- No wait time
- Quick resolution
- Prompt escalation
- Enhanced customer satisfaction
- High-grade service solutions
- Improved commitment level
- Increased brand reputation
Artificial Intelligence offers reliability
As customers’ needs evolve, businesses that are determined to serve the best quality have to integrate unique methods of assistance to offer unquestionable reliability and flexibility. In a tech-rich era, consumers expect a great level of maturity in the way enterprises propose service solutions. Using the cognitive knowledge base of intelligent chatbots, service-based industries can power their everyday interactions with their customers.
If manipulated correctly, AI technology yields such magnitude of reliability that is hard for human counterparts to achieve. The inclusion of chatbots helps surmount all possible barriers and pain points experienced in case of human customer support agents. Chatbots can:
- Offer freedom from obstacles caused by humans
- Eliminate all biases and barriers
- Bridge the gap virtually between business and customers
- Establish connection of reliability and trust
- Improve brand reputation through quick, single-attempt assistance
- Be designed to provide frictionless, flawless communication
- Escalate customer inquiries when unable to solve themselves
- Surpass negative human emotions (anger, annoyance, arguments, aggression, and forcefulness)
- Bring repeated business
Email support is thinkable with AI
Even after Amazon’s sensible Alexa and Apple’s Siri, we can say AI technology is still getting smarter while going through the process of improvement and innovations. Despite its role as Artificial Intelligence for customer service, machine learning capabilities of AI software still lack certain points where it needs refinement and human-like sensibility.
When it comes to handling email support, AI robot should ideally be making suggestions and writing a proper draft to answer customer inquiries through emails. Email support is where automated responses tossed directly to customers do not produce many results, giving businesses hard time to cope with incoming queries. However, this scenario can be something AI-powered customer service platforms can work on.
With gradually developed ability to learn from the large dataset, AI email support can offer certain meaningful solutions just like chatbots. It can suggest a help article using natural language processing system. It can even fetch some part of email draft for people working in a call center.
Since it requires accurate learning, AI can turn out to be a thinkable investment for service structures where the overall volume of support conversations is in thousands on monthly basis. Intelligent services can then be an efficient solution.
AI robots mean precision
The human brain has limited capacity and is often subject to issues of inaccuracies and flaws when it comes to serving people to the best of their performance caliber. On the other hand, AI assisted service solutions conform to predetermined standards and well-programmed efficiency, resulting in high-quality, straightforward customer experience delivered with minimal AHT (Average Handling Time).
Due to the highly capable machine learning process of AI-enabled chatbots, businesses can be sure their deliverables will be unscathed and immensely satisfying to customers’ expectations. Thus, we can conclude that inclusion of automating responses of AI-powered robots can pull off business target with utmost precision, without consuming much of customer’s time and resources.
Data mine transformed into personalization
In the online space, we all leave an enormous pile of data behind in our lifetime. But only 1/3rd of it is actually worth analysis. If analyzed and harnessed properly, organizations can leverage it to transform their businesses and boost brand engagement. Enterprises collecting such gigantic data can use the combined power of Big Data, AI and its machine learning capabilities to make customer journey more enlivened and personalized.
Brands can weave engaging product theories or personalized recommendations for each customer, creating an unparalleled stream of customers each day. Based on customer reviews and feedback, it becomes easy to navigate around their needs and browsing pattern and customize web design to individual customer’s taste. Such level of AI technology intervention for personalization greatly impacts on:
- Customer service interaction
- Engagement level
- Customer retention
- Repeat business
- Conversion metrics
The rise of AI-assisted human agent model
AI-augmented customer service is maturing as sophisticated enterprises turn to strategic investment in artificial intelligence for their innovative front-end chatbot service. AI blows trumpet across the globe with its attractive benefits such as efficiency improvement, fast resolution, accurate assistance, brand reputation and increased revenue.
Oracle in its study of AI as a customer service says that nearly 8 out of 10 businesses have adopted or are planning to adopt the power of AI for customer care solutions by 2020.
Instead of implementing fully automated front-end AI-powered bots, many enterprises prefer to invest in AI-assisted human agent model where human customer service representatives are supported by AI technology.
Front-end AI chatbots handle common first-level queries learning from historical tickets, FAQs and support documents, and helps optimize AHT (Agent Handle Time) to a good extent. Machine learning of AI gives intelligent agents ability to minimize escalation events, promote FCR (first contact resolution) and cuts down agent training cost.
The present glory of AI for customer service
A Tata consultancy services recent survey unfolds that almost 31.7% of major companies are now using AI in customer service space.
In the domain of customer care, the bank that has massively leveraged AI technology is China Merchant Bank, a leading credit card issuer in China. The bank’s front-end bot powered by WeChat messenger handles as much as nearly 2 million customer inquiries on daily basis. Since most queries are quite common, automated responses via AI chatbot proves to be a cost-effective solution, eliminating the need for hiring thousands of employees.
When it comes to AI-assisted human agent model, LivePerson as a customer service platform provider delivers appreciable results, increasing efficiency by 35%.
KLM, the Netherlands airline, turned to DigitalGenius to provide AI-powered customer service solution and diminish waiting time before the queries are answered. The solution has AI learning from live support interactions, adapting to reply format and suggesting responses to the human reps.
Most popular food chains like Subway, Dominos, Starbucks have all recently embraced AI to enable customers to place orders without any human involvement. They can rely on Facebook Messenger chatbots or simply tell Amazon’s AI bot Alexa, to order a bite.
Like other financial structures, Bank of America is also determined to roll out Erica, an intelligent virtual banking assistant based on AI technology, which will take digital banking to far next level.
AI powered chatbots for customer support is pushing the envelope of innovation and revolutionizing the way customers are assisted. AI means high-quality customer experience, personalized support, speed & efficiency and cost saving. Of all business segments, customer service is the one where Artificial Intelligence is hugely embraced and companies are confident about how chatbots can efficiently handle first-level queries and significantly minimize operational cost. We are most likely to experience further innovations in AI-powered applications for improving customer service solutions. Currently, major industries that rely on artificial intelligence in customer support space are food, travel, finance, retail, airline, and clothing.