AI Doesn’t Replace Your Customer Support Team—It Empowers Them

By Deon Nicholas

The most valuable asset you have when servicing and helping customers is your support team. Adopting technology such as AI won’t change that. AI is not something that replaces agents—it empowers them to work smarter and more efficiently. 

When choosing to deploy AI into your customer service ecosystem, you need a powerful tool. Traditional AI chatbots won’t take the strain off agents or assist them during customer interactions. To truly realize the benefits of AI and have it work in tandem with your people, it must go beyond keyword analysis. 

AI is an automator, not a job taker.

There are many misconceptions around AI, including the belief that it will replace human customer support agents. It won’t. Rather, it’s one more piece of the technology pie. AI works to automate tasks that are often manual and repetitive in nature. That’s how it applies to customer service. Technology can do a lot of things, but even the “smartest” AI isn’t capable of the complexity of some inquiries. 

It works in the background to understand the customer’s needs and deliver answers. How good the answers are rests on the type of AI in use. That’s where conversational AI exceeds the rest. 

Conversational AI understands human language but doesn’t replace actual humans.

The great thing about conversational AI is that it uses natural language processing (NLP), natural language understanding (NLU), and machine learning (ML) to understand intent and sentiment. 

Here’s what having those capabilities entails:

  • NLP: It helps computers process and interpret human language, facilitating human-computer communication.
  • NLU: It enables machines with reading comprehension, giving them the ability to understand language holistically (syntax, grammar, semantics, vocabulary, and so on).
  • ML: As the AI engine ingests more data and has more interactions, it learns from this and gets better at responding. 

All these types of AI allow for analyzing a customer’s query based on more than keywords. As a result, the technology can lead to customers resolving issues via self-service. 

Even this advanced AI doesn’t help every customer. Human intervention is still necessary a lot of the time, even with increasing numbers of ticket deflection. Your agents are still critical to the customer experience. What AI does is set up communication to be faster and more effective.

Conversational AI is the ideal complement to agents.

If customers can’t get answers using self-service models, their next stop is the agent queue. AI is already working to improve this transfer by sending the query to the agent group that has the expertise to resolve it. 

Once tickets land in agents’ queues, AI keeps supporting them. Here’s how AI assists agents in a scenario:

  • The customer submits a ticket to support relating to a recent product software update. 
  • Based on the analysis of the ticket by conversational AI, the system routes the query to the agents with expertise in the product. 
  • When the ticket appears on the agent’s screen, with it comes knowledge base articles, existing macros, and current ticket history. 
  • The agent immediately understands the information the customer needs about the update. They quickly send a response to resolve the ticket. 

An interaction that could have gone either way now has a positive outcome. The customer receives support within minutes, and the agent has the tools to give the best answer without lots of searching. 

AI can mitigate agent burnout.

Retaining customer service staff can be tricky. AI might be your best retainment strategy, helping alleviate some of the stresses. 

Agents often work in high-stress situations, which can easily lead to overwork and burnout. A Cornell University study on contact center workers found that 87 percent feel “high” or “very high” stress levels on the job.  

Your organization can deploy many tactics to retain customer support agents related to culture and employee relations. AI can be another approach. Since AI does a lot of the research for your agents and provides context, agents are less likely to feel unprepared. Using AI can also improve the time to resolution, a metric they watch and work to decrease. 

With AI, it’s like each agent having their own digital assistant that delivers valuable information. 

Give agents a path to success with conversational AI.

Conversational AI is a critical component of the modern contact center. Companies that embrace it offer their agents new and improved ways to deliver excellent customer experiences. AI provides the support that agents will appreciate. 
Find out more about the technology and integrating it into your help desk by reading What Is Conversational AI, and Why Does It Matter?

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Interested in generative AI for customer support? Check out this guide to learn about the 3 key pillars you need to get started.

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