6 Key Ways AI Is Changing the Future of Customer Service

By Ruth Favela

With technology advancing at lightning speed, it’s hard not to wonder what new tools and software can do for different aspects of a business, and the world of customer service is no different. 

The reality is that new advancements for customer service are here and here to stay and will only continue to improve, which is the case for Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is changing the future of customer service for the better and making it possible to improve your customer experience and agent experience at the same time. 

Not sure how? In this blog we’ll break down 6 key ways AI is changing the future of customer service and how support teams can benefit. 

How AI Is Changing Customer Service For the Better

Think about the last time you reached out to customer service needing help regarding a new service or product you signed up for or purchased. Was it frustrating? Was it quick? Were you able to reach an agent? Were you satisfied with how the process went? 

For many, customer support processes aren’t adequate. In fact, 58% of American consumers will switch companies because of poor customer service, and we don’t think that’s being dramatic.

Many brands have notoriously bad customer support processes, which is why you’ll find articles called “How to Speak to a Live Agent at X Company” or “Getting to A Live Agent at X.” 

Customer support is failing to meet customer needs and your customers are well aware. They’re so aware that they’re actually choosing to move to a competitor when things don’t work out for them. According to Zendesk, roughly 61% of customers say they would switch to a new brand after one bad experience.

The good news is that bad customer service isn’t the end of the world when we have the power of AI at our fingertips. Let’s look at 6 key ways AI is being used in customer service today

Chatbots

One of the most influential ways we’ve seen AI improve customer service and customer support is through the use of automated chatbots. A chatbot is a computer program that simulates human conversation, either via voice or text communication. 

In customer service, companies use chatbots to engage with customers alongside more classic customer service channels such as social media, email, and text. It’s used to automate the simples of customer interactions and is also used to boost agent productivity while enhancing the customer experience to make for happier customers who are satisfied with what you can offer.

Traditionally, chatbots are set to function based on a predetermined set of if-then statements and decision trees that give answers based on keywords. AI is used to automate responses in this scenario.

Conversational AI

A step above automated chatbots is conversational AI. With the help of conversational AI we are doing much more than simply automating customer interactions, we’re improving overall customer and agent experiences. 

Compared to a traditional chatbot, conversational AI uses much more technology and actual AI. A chat widget powered by conversational AI is powered by a combination of Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Understanding (NLU), and Natural Language Processing (NLP) which work together to understand the intent of a customers’ support inquiry and can simulate a conversation to help resolve their issue. 

Conversational AI learns from a company’s historical data, internal and external wikis, and past ticket responses to understand how customers have been responded to in the past and know how to respond to support questions in the future. 

Customer support becomes much more accurate, up-to-date, and insightful when teams have conversational AI technology on their side. 

Sentiment Analysis

One of the biggest impacts AI is making on customer support is with its ability to provide sentiment analysis when analyzing incoming customer support questions. Sentiment analysis, also known as opinion mining, is possible with the power of NLP which determines whether incoming data is positive, negative, or neutral. Sentiment analysis is often used when evaluating large amounts of textual data to help businesses monitor their brand and customer sentiment through support tickets and customer feedback. 

With the help of AI, support teams can quickly identify tickets that need to be escalated to different departments based on sentiment and can help gauge customer satisfaction in order to improve the customer experience. 

Email & AI

AI isn’t just helping customer support teams by providing automated help within chatbots or chat widgets. AI is making a large impact on the ability for customer support teams to streamline their email channels too. 

Many support teams don’t even offer a chat feature for support needs. Often customers will need to go in search of the “Contact Us” form and submit their question there. This form usually sends support or customer feedback to an email channel where an agent is then triaging the customer ticket or answering it out right. 

You’d be correct in thinking that if AI can automate chat interactions then it can surely automate email responses as well. With artificial intelligence support teams can automate responses to the most repetitive customer questions that come in through email and significantly decrease wait time and contact resolution times. 

Self Service

What do customers want? If you said accurate answers as soon as possible, then you’re right! 

But what are we doing to make this possible in the first place? If support teams want to meet their customer needs then they need to be able to offer them a way to self-serve and possibly handle their support questions on their own in an easy, manageable way. 

Self-service is an approach where support teams provide customers and users the ability to access resources to find solutions on their own without the help of a customer service representative. Self-service is possible when companies provide knowledge bases and chat widgets that can surface information to them when they need it. 

AI makes self-service possible by helping teams automate responding to frequently asked questions in a chat widget that surfaces knowledge from internal wikis and external bases. Plus, customers want access to self-service—in fact 35% of customers find it important to have access to a self-serve channel

Cost Savings

AI is not only changing the way we do customer service and support, it’s also changing how much we spend on this part of the customer experience. With AI we can reduce agent headcount needs, increase CSAT, and improve response times. 

In order for teams to grow, scale, and fluctuate with support needs, they need the right tools at their disposal to pivot and change and be as agile as possible. AI can help provide that ability to pivot. With AI, teams no longer need to extend hiring plans or feel the need to fill more seats. When support volumes increase, AI can help teams scale to meet those needs by providing them with a line of defense that can deflect the most common and repetitive customer support tickets. This frees up agent time so they can get to the more complex customer inquiries.

By automating the repetitive and freeing up agent time, support teams can show that customer support is a revenue driver that provides great CX versus a cost center that just uses up resources. 

Frequently Asked Questions About How AI Is The Future Of Customer Service

How is AI Changing the Face of Customer Service?

AI is changing the way we serve our customers by streamlining the customer experience and making support interactions faster, accurate, and much more consistent. 

AI can be used within chatbots and chat widgets, it makes conversational AI possible, it can automate email interactions, allow for better self-service, and overall provide cost savings to teams trying to scale their support teams as the rest of their businesses grow. 

Will AI Take Over Customer Service?

AI will continue to be a driver for growth within customer service spaces. AI is designed to augment teams, not replace them. Artificial intelligence allows support teams to do more for their customers and improve the customer experience. AI is not only impacting customers, it’s also changing the agent experience for the better. 

Why is AI the Future of Financial Services?

AI has continued to improve support processes for many industries including the financial services industry. The use of AI within the financial services industry has come a long way and is making a big impact in customer service, in automating banking interactions, reducing customer wait times, and minimizing customer service costs. 

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