I recently attended a webinar called “The future of AI (artificial intelligence) in customer service”. Experts at both Zendesk and Netomi presented their research findings and answered questions from the audience members. This webinar intrigued me. So, I went on to study the impact of AI on customer experience across industries and solutions. This blog recaps my key takeaways.
What is AI in customer service?
When people think about AI, they often think of Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri. Can Alexa or Siri help you with your NPS scores? Maybe!
Let me define AI in the customer service realm. In simple terms, artificial intelligence automates customer facing processes that were previously run by people. AI is also capable of analyzing data across multiple locations. This could include your CRM system, billing system and website. An AI solution can identify trends and then act on that information in support of the customer.
There are many benefits of using AI in customer service. These include reducing customer hold and problem resolution times, eliminating business costs and more accurately solving complex customer problems. This combination of benefits can lead to a boost in NPS scores and a lift in customer retention and loyalty.
TCS, also known as Tata Consulting Services, recently completed a global trend study on artificial intelligence. It determined that 32% of companies use AI in Customer Service today.
“Artificial intelligence can be successfully employed to provide an intelligent, convenient and informed customer experience at any point along the customer journey. ” (Quote by Will Theil, the co-founder and principal product architect at Pointlist. The Pointlist AI solution unifies customer data across all of your touchpoints. )
Here are 3 ways that AI can enhance your customer service and support.
1) Call Routing & Speed of Resolution
We have all had a bad experience getting transferred around a contact center in search of the right person to resolve our problem. Artificial Intelligence can analyze data and information from an incoming caller. Then, it will more accurately route that person to the right department.
Here is an example. AI tools can scan a customer’s phone number, look into the CRM and other internal systems and gather key information. It can quickly identify the customer’s value, their recent tickets and their current accounts receivable status. Simultaneously, AI tools can look at external data sources such as geographic location or weather. Ultimately, AI can direct the caller to an agent who is the best and most qualified person to work with that customer.
In addition, we can use AI to present the information it collects and present it immediately to the customer service agent. This helps prepare the agent, reduce the call time and improve the quality of the interaction.
2) Real Time Problem Trending & Action
Customer service teams are often large and geographically dispersed. Agents spend most of their time resolving customer problems and are not actively discussing trends with one another. To identify trends in customer problems, leaders most often pull “lagging data” looking at back at the most common ticket types during a segment of time.
AI is capable of analyzing data sets and identifying trends in real time. It can actively view details logged in your CRM system and also factor in other data sources outside of your company and add details like geographical location, weather and special events.
Imagine how helpful receiving a text that said, “Alert: 25 tickets logged past 15 minutes on software 7 outage, Germany. Weather- Hurricane. Act now.” This would spur you and your team to take immediate action. You could communicate with affected customers and resolve problems faster.
3) Handle customer inquiries with no human intervention
Your traditional Knowledge Centered Support (KCS) and online knowledge bases can be put on steroids with the support of AI and machine learning. AI tools can blend historical information and real time information from multiple data sources. AI can process and learn from historical trends and customer feedback. Ultimately, AI can serve customers more accurate responses to questions.
Instead of only using your knowledge base for online self help searches, an AI enhanced knowledge base could be used to respond to customer emails and text messages.
Some customers may enjoy interacting with AI powered Chatbots. A Chatbot is a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, and is primarily used over the internet and via mobile applications. Per an article in Chatbots Life Magazine, “Chatbots are the fastest growing digital communication trend and one of the strongest tools marketers have at their disposal.” In 2020 and beyond we expect to see an increase in Chatbots used to process payments and Chatbots powered via voice not just text.
Will Chatbots take over the world? Probably not, LOL! In an article titled “Top 12 Chatbots Trends and Statistics to Follow in 2020” Snigdha Patel shared that “chatbots, virtual assistants, messaging and other new technologies are helping transform call centers across the world. Bots, without human involvement, can handle simple requests such as changing a password, requesting a balance and scheduling an appointment.” Bots can also be available 24/7/365 and handle multiple requests simultaneously.
Other benefits of AI in customer service
There are many other benefits of leveraging AI and machine learning in a customer service environment and/or part of your customer experience strategy. For example, AI can…
- Help you deeply customize communications with customers with the right messages at the right times. AI can help you uncover specific customer needs, buying behaviors, and preferred channels of interaction.
- Reduce the number of escalations within your organization by identifying and more swiftly resolving issues affecting multiple users.
Are you using AI to enhance your customer experience? Please add your comments below. Thanks!
You may also like one of my previous posts, “Customer Experience Technology… Friend or Foe?“.
© 2020, Marci Reynolds. All rights reserved.
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