Customer Service in the Age of 24/7

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The rise of disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), coupled with a 24/7 societal mentality brought on by rapid digital transformation, has made the demand for immediate responses in customer service skyrocket. This is especially true due to the growing prevalence of more sophisticated and intelligent virtual assistants, as customer service is expected to be just a single click away in most instances. As a result, consumers aren’t just expecting immediate responses from the organizations they reach out to—they’re demanding them, with a massive 90% of consumers saying immediate responses are “very important” when customer service issues come up.

However, as of 2024, 78% of consumers say that even when they’re able to connect with a 24/7 virtual assistant, they still require additional human assistance during regular business hours, negating the main benefit of having a virtual assistant, that’s always available. This leaves organizations with two options: retaining massive amounts of always-available human representatives—a costly endeavor—or, instead, stepping up their automated customer service capabilities.

A Snapshot of Automated Customer Service

First and foremost, automated customer service isn’t functional or useful without one key feature: accessibility. Merely offering round-the-clock assistance via virtual assistants or other digital options falls short if consumers struggle to navigate or utilize the service effectively. Beyond foundational accessibility elements, 24/7 assistance must also extend beyond baseline inquiries and be able to intelligently address customer problems in real-time to minimize the need for human intervention. Otherwise, many customers find themselves back at square one with digital assistants unable to properly aid them.

To ensure this level of accessibility when it comes to their automated customer service offerings, organizations need to prioritize user-friendly interfaces and intuitive design. Virtual assistants must seamlessly integrate into enterprise knowledge base, real time data sources, websites, apps, and voice or messaging platforms, providing easy access to assistance whenever and wherever needed by the customer. Additionally, multi-language, omnichannel support and proactive engagement features, can preemptively offer support, further enhancing accessibility. Without this foundation, no matter how “smart” your virtual assistants are, customers won’t be able to use them effectively.

In addition to accessibility, effective automated customer service also requires advanced problem-solving capabilities that can work through complex inquiries to provide immediate responses. Generative AI (GenAI)-powered systems leverage natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML) algorithms to comprehend and respond to diverse queries and scenarios in real-time. By analyzing vast datasets and learning from interactions on an ongoing basis, these systems can offer increasingly accurate and relevant solutions, further reducing reliance on human intervention. Without this level of automation, organizations are simply delaying inevitable human involvement in most of their customer service interactions, wasting customers’ time and eating at their patience.

Meeting Consumer Expectations

Despite advancements in automated customer service, consumer satisfaction remains elusive for many. A significant portion of consumers—40%, to be exact—have found their interactions with virtual assistants to actually be detrimental to their overall experience. Common grievances among customers include limited functionality, repetitive responses, and difficulty understanding complex queries. However, with the continued evolution of transformative technologies like GenAI, virtual assistants have become much smarter in a relatively short period of time. Gone are the days of going in circles with a virtual assistant that can’t seem to get a basic grasp on your question—GenAI represents the next evolution in automated assistance, capable of understanding context and intent with unprecedented accuracy. By generating human-like responses tailored to individual queries, GenAI can bridge the gap between automation and human interaction, delivering personalized and empathetic support experiences across the enterprise.

GenAI is also revolutionizing what 24/7 customer service can look like, offering the potential to surpass the limitations of traditional chatbots. By combining advanced NLP with deep learning techniques, GenAI can simulate human conversation with remarkable fidelity, providing nuanced responses that reflect empathy, understanding, and emotional intelligence. This is the last piece in the 24/7 customer service puzzle, leaving customers more comfortable than ever in trusting virtual assistants with their issues.

Ideal Outcomes

With GenAI fulfilling these criteria, consumer satisfaction—and profits—have the potential to grow to an all-time high. Studies consistently demonstrate the link between positive customer experiences and organizational profitability. A staggering 86% of customers express a willingness to spend more with companies that deliver exceptional service, underscoring the direct correlation between customer experience (CX) and revenue growth.

As any competitive organization knows, excellent CX extends beyond immediate financial gains, influencing long-term brand loyalty and advocacy. Satisfied customers are more likely to recommend the organization they had a good experience with to others, driving organic growth through positive word-of-mouth and referrals. Additionally, strong CX can mitigate the impact of any negative experiences moving forward, fostering resilience when the organization is faced with other challenges.

Furthermore, the benefits of GenAI extend beyond customer satisfaction to organizational efficiency, scalability, and cost savings. By automating CX, GenAI frees up leaders to focus on other business-driving activities, enhancing productivity while also reducing operational costs related to CX.

A Brighter Future

The age of true, 24/7 customer service has arrived. This is something organizations have been expecting for a long time, so the challenge isn’t necessarily putting those 24/7 options into place but meeting the burgeoning expectations that 24/7 service brings. Rather than viewing these expectations as a burden, organizations should seize the opportunity to redefine and revolutionize customer service standards with transformative technologies. By harnessing the capabilities of GenAI, they can cultivate customer-centric experiences that drive both satisfaction and financial success.

In essence, this new era of the AI heralds a new frontier in customer service—one where organizations can transcend conventional limitations and regular business hours to deliver unparalleled support and foster enduring customer relationships.

Frank Fawzi
Frank Fawzi is the President and CEO at IntelePeer, where he has been the driving force behind the company’s leading position in the Communications Automation Platform (CAP) market providing AI and automation solutions to mid and large-sized enterprises. With his emphasis on positive leadership, the ability to attract and retain exceptional talent and raise the necessary venture funding, IntelePeer has grown dramatically under Frank’s stewardship.

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