How AI Can Equip Customer Service for the Holiday Surge

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While the pandemic has changed consumer shopping habits permanently, recent Unbabel survey research shows that overall shopping budgets have remained the same for more than half of global consumers. Around 20% of shoppers might even spend more this year. Specifically, consumers indicated that their online and mobile shopping is expected to increase in 2021.

This shift in behavior may mean that more consumers are seeking out digital customer support channels than ever before. Not to mention, online shopping boosted cross-border e-commerce in 2021, with 46% of global shoppers saying it prompted them to buy directly from an international brand, rising to 52% among those ages 25 to 34.

Even with this surge in activity surrounding the holidays, cost-efficient, always-on AI technology can help customer service teams increase customer satisfaction without having to scale up their headcount. Here’s how.

AI scales multilingual customer support

For some multinational organizations, the holidays bring in customers from around the world. Unfortunately, native support isn’t always available when it’s needed, resulting in delays in customer response times. Beyond the disappointment factor alone, there’s also a major business benefit for increasing native-language support. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of the global consumers in the Unbabel survey cited above would pay a higher price for a product or service if a brand offers a customer experience in their native language.

Even so, staffing dedicated agents for every language doesn’t make financial sense. During holiday surges, an AI-powered Language Operations (LangOps) solution can help bring machine translation into agents’ workflows — by taking advantage of the tools they already use to respond to emails and chats in any language. LangOps platforms translate tickets using AI, with a human editor checking the translation for accuracy or other important cultural nuances. These tools enable the agent to respond to the customer in their native language, without the customer knowing about the AI behind the scenes.

These interactions give customers a fast, more localized customer experience, while boosting customer-centric KPIs such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scores, and Customer Effort Scores (CES). In fact, providing personalized customer service at speed can build brand loyalty and increase sales.

Self-service AI chatbots speed queues

Gartner predicts that 85% of customer interactions will kick off with self-service by 2022. A big part of helping customers help themselves starts with AI-powered chatbots. Many organizations have already started using chatbots. Even so, they may not use them to accelerate the customer journey, while helping agents save time by avoiding manual tasks.

Here are a few good use cases for AI-based chatbots in support, which help customers learn more about products or services, get technical support or assistance, answer billing or pricing questions, or check the status of orders and shipping. These solutions help lower costs while automating many of the low-touch customer problems that unnecessarily consume agents’ time.

Voice technology optimizes agent workflow

There’s been a major M&A boom around voice-related AI technology, such as conversation analytics. These types of technologies can analyze all omnichannel interactions, including customer calls, to give agents feedback for continuous improvement. Instead of relying on inconsistent feedback, such as post-call surveys, to determine the success of a customer interaction, agents can get real-time coaching to help navigate difficult situations quickly and without escalation to a manager.

Using these platforms, agents can navigate through large call volumes in less time, improving KPIs such as first contact resolution (FCR). What’s more, managers and supervisors can effectively assess agent performance, providing feedback based on customer emotions, volume of silence, and other important attributes of voice calls.

From orchestrating customer service processes to doing more with less, there are many ways in which customer service teams can use AI to handle the holiday surge this year and beyond. These technologies can help organizations save money, improve customer satisfaction, and make agents more productive and happy. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

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