It was about 4 years ago that I got my first Alexa device. With it came all of the hype and mystery of what this artificial intelligence (AI) device could provide. Over the next few years, Alexa expanded its’ capabilities through external applications, internal development, and data analysis. Now Alexa stands ready at a moment’s notice to answer questions, automate activities, communicate, or just entertain.
Fast forward and the AI revolution has made its way into the customer service arena. Soon to be gone are the days when customers with issues or needing assistance will have to call a customer service line and be routed to a representative to resolve concerns. We are already experiencing a customer’s initial interactions with a company not being with a human at all. Instead, AI via chatbots and automated messaging platforms are increasingly becoming the first line of contact to address customer needs. This shift is revolutionizing the customer experience and making customer support more efficient for customers and companies.
Why AI is so alluring to business operations
Using AI technology improves customer service interactions and promotes customer loyalty while enhancing the customer experience, enabling speed and efficiency of responses, and promoting cost savings. Another important benefit of AI platforms is their ability to make data more accessible to companies. These data-driven, intelligent platforms help companies gain more detailed data and insight into their customers’ needs and product preferences through their ability to collect and analyze massive amounts of data. This allows companies to learn more details about their customers and more effectively target them to prevent churn.
Companies using AI for customer service are also seeing valuable cost savings. Call centers involve a significant investment, requiring companies to hire customer service staff, train them, and provide them with a place to work. Adding to the overall expense, employee turnover is often high in many centers. By automating customer service platforms, businesses are able to minimize costs – rather than training and retraining customer support staff, companies can instead train the platform. Then, as they collect and analyze interaction data, they can re-configure it as needed, or whenever introducing process changes. This reduces the overall number of call center employees while using employees with higher skills to address more complex issues. It also allows for continuous customer support service at any time of day or night.
AI for Customer-Facing Support
Automated customer service platforms also respond to customer queries with exceptional speed and accuracy in a way that human agents are unable to achieve. AI technology can gather data and effectively analyze it to identify customer issues and behavior patterns, respond to queries with accurate solutions, and offer 24/7 real-time support. Furthermore, technology can easily process information and then learn from that data in order to continuously improve and become more accurate and efficient at addressing customer needs.
AI for Agent-Facing Support
While AI can provide direct customer support, it can be equally as effective in assisting customer support agents. AI decreases the amount of time that customers have to wait for resolutions on their issues by providing back-end support to the customer support agents as they work to resolve issues. The same technology that helps to address customer inquiries can also be used to support internal processes for addressing concerns. This extra technological approach helps customer support agents resolve issues more quickly thanks to the ability to conduct searches on internal databases and other support mechanisms, thus helping improve customer satisfaction.
Using a Blended Approach
While using AI technology alone can help improve customer service experiences, a blended approach that also uses technology to guide customer support representatives may be the most effective option. With this approach, AI technology is used to handle common, low-level inquiries. The technology can promote the early resolution of issues before they escalate into larger problems. However, it is also important to remember that using technology does have limitations. AI platforms typically are not able to answer highly complex, technical questions. To resolve those situations, a real customer support agent is still necessary to provide more detailed and nuanced responses to complex issues. This blended approach takes the most effective aspects of AI and customer support agents to provide excellent customer support and an overall positive customer experience.