Putting the ‘Service’ in Self-Service: AI that Solves Problems

By Machielle Thomas

Artificial intelligence (AI) comes with a lot of baggage as the technology du jour. It can sometimes feel like what AI is meant to do and how it can help get lost in the shuffle of its newness to the mainstream. AI can help us write copy, come up with ideas, and automate practices, just to name a few.

Where AI is really revolutionizing work and relationship is with customer service. Customer support AI is changing how customers get answers and when (read: much faster than before!) and empowering customers to do this on their own through self-service virtual assistants—also known as chatbots. 

Here, we’ll go through how AI chatbots help put the “service” aspect into self-service, unpacking where and how chatbots elevate the customer experience, and what businesses need to consider when implementing this technology. 

What are AI chatbots? 

AI chatbots are different from other bots because they use AI algorithms, knowledge bases, and data to understand and process user queries. With Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning (ML), this type of virtual assistant can respond to customer questions with human language, providing answers and asking questions the way a live agent would. 

How AI chatbots can elevate customer service 

Chatbots don’t exist to solely take the roles away from live agents. Rather, there is a great harmony between what a chatbot can do for a customer and how live agents can spend their time on more complex issues. 

AI chatbots are great at enhancing and elevating the customer service experience in ways that live agents might not be able to do. Primarily, speed is a common factor, which helps generate more positive customer reviews and overall satisfaction. According to a report from Salesforce, nearly 70% of users appreciate how fast a chatbot responds to their query—and that’s not all this technology can do to help customers have a better overall experience. 

Below are several ways that AI chatbots help promote a better customer service experience and encourage more self-service agency. 

Offer solutions such as refunds, replacement shipments

While refunds aren’t always the ideal solution for many businesses, AI chatbots have the intelligent capabilities to ensure customers can return their products or services with this one query without having to escalate to multiple live agents to get it done. 

Additionally, similar to how chatbots are able to place purchases for customers, chatbots have the capability to offer replacements in an effort to reduce a loss on refunds. Armed with the knowledge of the business, customer support AI can offer product recommendations, go through the FAQ with a customer, and even check on the status of an order. 

AI chatbots can perform all of the same sales tasks that live agents can but with speed and consistency.

Multilingual support 

Not every live agent is going to speak a number of different languages. AI chatbot support, on the other hand, can be programmed to have multilingual support. Customers whose first language isn’t the primary one wherever they’re based are able to feel comfortable and at ease with this. They can ask questions in their first language and get intelligent responses back.

This part of AI chatbot capability is as important as personalization in customer support. Customers love having their service tailored to their specific needs, rather than a one-size-fits-all solution. Customers will be much happier if their concerns can take language into consideration. 

Omnichannel support and sales

Be where your customers are, right? Well, customers are nearly everywhere online these days, and while that can seem overwhelming, AI chatbots are up for that task.

Customers want to be helped no matter the channel they’re using—be it on the phone via SMS, social media, or messaging apps like Facebook Messenger. The ability to meet a customer where they’re at, while also seamlessly moving along channels without any glitches, is important for both support and sales. 

Consistent, 24/7 customer support

One of the most important aspects of AI chatbot support is that it delivers consistent, round-the-clock help for customers. No matter what time of day, day of the week, or time zone, AI chatbots are there to help customers with their questions and find solutions to issues. 

This elevates the customer experience because of its accessibility functions. Live agents aren’t always on call, no matter how big teams may be. There is always potential for a gap in timing. Here, customers can choose to get support on their own terms, at whatever time is best suited to them, and not the other way around. 

Re-route customers to right agents

Sometimes issues require the help of another person on the line. AI chatbot capabilities, as well as intelligent ticketing classification, can take a more complex issue and re-route it to the right agent. Ticket classification via AI is an immensely helpful automation using data from the business and customer queries to tag and process customer service tickets that need to be escalated with urgency to a live agent

Provide details only one time

If customer queries need to be escalated, another massive benefit of engaging with AI chatbots first is that a customer needs to input information only one time. If an agent needs to go through the case with a customer, the information has already been collected and processed by the AI chatbot, and, often, agents will be confirming or clarifying it with them. This saves both customers and live agents time on data and information collection, and they can work to get speedier results.  

Encourage customer agency and self-service

AI chatbots encourage customers to handle and solve issues on their own. Customer agency is a powerful quality to promote for a business. There’s a time and a place for customers to be served, and served well by people, but to keep up with today’s pace and expectations to deliver consistent, fast service, deploying AI chatbots helps businesses achieve that. 

What to consider when using AI chatbots

Now that we’ve gone through how AI chatbots support both a business and its customers, there’s importance in considering what a business might need to have before implementing this into their customer service strategy. 

Below are three key considerations before deploying any AI chatbots: 

  • The needs of the business.
    Not all businesses have a robust customer service arm that needs to have chatbot capabilities. First ask what the needs of the business are and how an AI chatbot would support that. Is customer satisfaction and service an important part of your business’s retention strategy? Then maybe investing in AI chatbots is the way to go.
  • What knowledge the chatbot needs.

AI functions well when it has an abundance of data, business and product or service information, and context to pull from. Does your business have enough of that to make the chatbot as intelligent and useful as it needs to be to support customers?

  • What is the customer experience? 

Understanding how customers experience service is important for any business regardless of AI chatbot implementation or not. Consider where improvements and optimizations can be made in regard to speed, resolution rates, escalations to live agents, and any other metric that can tell you how the customer is experiencing service to solve their issues. 

Dive in.

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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