Using AI to Improve the Customer Experience

By Ruth Favela

According to CCW, customers and brands say they care more about the customer experience than ever, but interactions are not universally improving. This comes at a time where solutions for customer support pain points are more available than ever before. 

With digital channels becoming more popular during the COVID-19 pandemic, you’d think companies would have improved the experiences they offer their customers via those channels, but that was not the case.

Only 42% of customers feel that brands have improved delivering great customer support or service via digital mediums of chat, email, or socials. 

Customer Contact Week Digital found that customers are still facing the same pain points they have experienced in the past and continue to. They state: 

  • 64% of customers claim excessive wait times to be their biggest pain point, which is actually up from 58% the previous year 
  • 53% of customers claim their biggest pain being finding the right agent or system for their issue
  • 43% are dissatisfied with needing to repeat information to various representatives
  • Another 43% say their pain points stem from a requirement to use self-service prior to reaching a live agent

What if you could solve some of these issues and help your customers engage with high-quality customer experiences? 

We mentioned that solutions for these customer support pain points are more available than ever; companies have hyper focused on building tools that can change the way teams do support, manage incoming inquiries, and allow for automated self-service. 

So why aren’t they being utilized to their fullest potential? 

The best of these tools use artificial intelligence to help agents better triage tickets and pull accurate answers. “AI” is still a bit of a buzzword and it can be difficult to demystify what it is and what it’s not. But it’s difficult to dispute the power these AI-powered CX solutions have had on various orgs. 

Today we’re here to chat about the importance of utilizing the right tools in your organization to positively impact your CX and the experience of those who offer support and great experiences, your agents and employees. 

Let’s start from the top. 

What is Customer Experience? (CX)  

These days we hear a lot about “the customer experience” and how important it is. It can be confusing trying to find a solid answer for it, especially when there are so many different ways you can work to improve the one you offer your customers. 

Customer experience is the journey, process, and sum of all the interactions that a customer has with your organization. It focuses on the relationship between a business and its customers.

In the customer support and contact center industry, your CX is the process you put your customers through on their journey to resolve their support issues. 

What is Artificial Intelligence? (AI)

Artificial intelligence, also referred to as “machine intelligence,” is simply intelligence displayed by machines. It’s the theory and development of computer systems being able to perform tasks normally requiring more than basic machine intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and even translation between languages.

As opposed to more traditional software, customer support AI is a system that does not need to be explicitly programmed to return specific outputs according to some given input. 

AI has come a long way and has changed the customer experience for the better by supporting customers on their entire journey interacting with your business. 

AI & CX: A Perfect Pair 

Customer support has evolved over the past few years and will continue to do so as customer expectations change and evolve.

While many companies have taken to a “watch and see” approach regarding the use of AI within their business, the time is now to see the impact it has had for other companies and their support teams. At the end of the day, AI is improving the customer experience and you can’t look the other way to how revolutionary it can be for your org. 

To paint a better picture of why AI is needed in the customer support space we’ve collected some CX stats that you should keep in mind when looking to improve and create a solid CX strategy. 

  • Customers prioritize positive customer experiences; according to Forbes 74% of consumers are more likely to purchase from businesses they know offer excellent CX. 
  • Companies face a lot of pressure to deliver excellent customer experiences; every year, US businesses lose $35.3 billion due to avoidable CX issues 
  • According to Gartner, 58% of consumers will use AI to save time and money. The more time they save, the more likely they are to purchase a product and the more they save, the more they’re likely to be repeat customers. 
  • Accenture states that by 2035 AI technologies are projected to increase business productivity by 40%, further showing the adaptableness of many organizations 
  • Customer expectations have never been higher; Hubspot research shows that nearly ? of customers expect responses within 10 minutes of any marketing, service, or customer service inquiry. An immediate response is important to 90% of consumers. 
  • ? of consumers state waiting is the most frustrating part of seeking customer support, while another ? claims repeating yourself lack of seamlessness support is the most frustrating aspect of seeking support. 
  • Providing a high-quality CX can increase retention rates by as little as 5%, resulting in increased profits by between 25% and 95%.
  • 40% of consumers now prefer self-serve channels over human contact; Dimension Data found that 73% of customers prefer to use a company’s website instead of social media, text, or live chat support 

The relationship between business and consumer is very different than it was even a decade ago. Fair prices and high-quality goods don’t make the cut anymore; consumers now want an experience that will keep them coming back and businesses want to offer that experience no matter what. 

How AI Has Changed Customer Support 

It can be difficult to meet every single one of your customers’ needs, but it can be pretty easy to solve their top issues in one go. 

In a world where people expect resolutions right when they need them, there are a few things you can do to implement quick fixes for some of the pain points your customers come across when seeking customer support. 

Decrease Response Times

One of the largest issues customer support agents and teams face is being unable to respond to tickets and incoming inquiries as fast as they’d like. We mentioned that up to 90% of customers believe immediate responses to be one of the most important parts of customer service, and when you’re not meeting those expectations, it can be difficult to keep customer satisfaction high. 

Companies like Typeform have found that when they implemented an AI solution for their customer support needs, they could reduce time spent on replying to tickets by up to 20%. AI helps agents learn how to do their jobs faster and can 

With AI solutions like those offered from Forethought, agents spend less time manually labeling and resolving tickets and more time getting through more nuanced inquiries. 

Deflect Repetitive Inquiries 

Customers expect immediate responses and oftentimes can’t get them because of the way a support team deflects inquiries. Most of the time, support organizations have agents manually labeling tickets. This means someone is spending countless hours tagging tickets for spam, different tiers, and sometimes escalation needs. 

What if you could automatically label tickets as they come in? 

With AI for customer support, support agents are able to automatically triage tickets as they come in and deflect the ones they already know need easy answers. 

Route, an innovative shipping tracker, expected their ticket volume to triple during their holiday season in 2020 and decided AI would be the best solution. Since implementing, Route has been able to deflect 40% of their ticket volume, while still maintaining a great customer experience that provides customers with what they need when they ask for it. 

Increase Cases Closed

Working to improve your customer experience results in two things: satisfied customers who want to return to you over and over and support agents and employees who feel more capable and comfortable with their jobs. 

Hiring and ramping new employees within support teams takes time and energy. Did you know that AI for customer support could actually help you onboard agents faster

With the right AI tool, you can have an AI assistant pull relevant past tickets, articles, and templates into a side dock app to quickly help agents resolve incoming tickets that can’t be automatically deflected. 

Desire2Learn, a cloud-based online and blended classroom learning software used by schools, higher education, and businesses across the globe saw their software use increase tenfold during the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in a massive uptick in their ticket volume. 

They needed an innovative solution that could reduce ticket handle time and increase the average number of cases an agent could close in an hour. And with AI, they found their solution. 

Using AI for customer support, D2L was able to deploy a solution that reduced Route’s time to close tickets by 13.7% and increased the number of cases closed per hour by 32% all while reducing first response time by 56%. Agents using AI found that they were more likely to hit their ticket quotas and learn how to find solutions faster. 

The impact AI can have within support organizations is clear. 

Where To Next? 

There’s a lot that goes into creating seamless processes and quality customer experiences. 

Your efforts will pay off in the long run, as seen in the above stories. In fact, according to the Temkin Group companies who invest in CX can see a doubling of their revenue within a few years. 

With CX playing as big a part in what companies offer, the time to strategize and improve yours is now. You can make the most of your efforts by venturing into customer support AI solutions. AI solutions like those offered by Forethought are powered by machine learning and natural language understanding that can learn from your data and understand the intent of a customer inquiry. 

If you’re interested in learning more about the intricacies behind piloting and implementing an AI solution for your support organization, check out our eBook on Piloting AI for Customer Support. 

You can download your copy today or set up a time to chat with us to learn more! 

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