Customer Service and AI: A Match Made in Heaven

Customer Service and AI: A Match Made in Heaven

If your customer service team is run by old-school customer service managers, you may not able to see how you can put these two seemingly unrelated concepts together. But the truth is, artificial intelligence actually goes well together with customer service. Chances are you might've already used one of those automated services like ordering pizza, booking a hotel room or plane tickets on Facebook Messenger or even Whatsapp. Many businesses are now turning their heads towards AI-powered self-service for more and more parts of the customer journey.

What is it that makes both users and businesses interested in this approach?

Before we get down to it, let's see what customer self-service is really all about.

What's Self-Help Customer Service?

Traditional customer service is when customers contact a support agent whenever they encounter a problem. Basically, you wait for customers to reach out to you because they're unsatisfied with your product. This makes the customer experience largely dependant on the quality of the customer service agent that they reach. Customer self-service works a little bit differently.

Although self-service is generally still reactive to the customers' needs, it lets them deal with their own problems without having to get a customer support agent involved in the process. You've likely already seen this in the form of FAQs, knowledge bases or online communities on a company website.

But, don't customers like to be served by agents?

Although it sounds counterintuitive, many people prefer self-service because they like to solve problems on their own.

Let Customers Solve Their Own Problems

Times are changing. Customers want to have control and autonomy when dealing with issues. Customer service given by support agents is still nice to have, especially in exceptional cases, but it's usually not the first choice of customers. In fact, customers today prefer self-help customer service because it allows them to solve problems in their own time and at their own pace. They generally expect a company to have at least one method of self-service available.

91% of the customers say they would use a knowledge base if it can solve their needs; 75% of the customers says self-service is a convenient way to address customer service issues.

Practically speaking, customer service over the phone is generally not convenient anymore. Just think of the ire you have for that one friend who always calls you instead of texting. Live Chat is better but it generally means the customer must remain on the website and wait for a response.

Don't Let Your Customers Walk Away Like That

In many businesses, customer experience is likely the only factor that can make your brand stand out from the rest. This includes the interactions you provide to your customers online. The standard of users coming to you with a problem, your human agents solving their issues & the customer leaving the conversation seems to be enough.

But trust me, you don't want the conversation to end like that. Here's what you want instead. Either create some engagement or open a channel that will allow you to build a relationship through some proactive customer service.

How exactly can I do that?

Give your customers choices. For customers that enjoy self-service build a knowledge base that allows them to explore everything your product or service is capable of.

Other customers will prefer a conversation. So allow them to contact you through the messaging app of their choice like Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Line or others. That way you can message them back later if there is an update to their issue.

At the end of the day, it's the personalized experience that you give to your customers that builds up your customers' loyalty to your brand.

How Does AI-Powered Customer Service Work?

Remember, your customers wants answers the minute they send out the request. You don't even want to keep them waiting for more than 1 minute; because I can promise you, by then they would've walked away.

And naturally, AI-powered customer support becomes the solution to this new customer trend. Essentially, what AI-powered customer support does is automate responses to customers requests through machine learning.

Allow me to explain it in English.

Basically, Artificial Intelligence uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) to understand when messages coming in from customers are similar in nature. Over the last couple of years, this has enabled developers to build complex and intricate conversation flows to that simulate a human when you're really speaking to a bot.

Actually, our platform in a similar way; but there is no setup or developer required.

Rocketbots brings all your messaging channels together and puts them in one centralized location. So no matter the channel your customers prefer to chat with – Facebook Messenger, Live Chat or Whatsapp, it's all being sent to one single platform where you can address these issues.

Rather than setting up a complex chatbot, just start answering your customers' questions. Our AI will learn how you answer common questions or phrases quite quickly and start delivering the same answers automatically.

Why Now?

Whichever way you choose to use AI in your customer service processes – the sooner the better. Using Rocketbots, the sooner you start answering questions the sooner a part of your conversations can be automated. For larger companies and more complicated processes just collecting the required data may be a struggle.

A recent Gartner report suggests that 55% of established companies either have started making investments in the potential of artificial intelligence or are planning to do so by 2020.

It's definitely no accident that businesses are pumping cash into artificial intelligence.

Here are the top 3 benefits AI customer service can bring.

#1: 24/7 Customer Support

Creating a 24/7 customer support system is difficult. To do so effectively you may need staff in 3 locations around the world to be able to support the different time zones.

Unlike human support teams, AI-supported customer service can work around the clock. Yes. We're talking about an efficient customer support assistant addressing inquiries 24/7. No matter which time zone your customers are in at the moment, most likely they will be able to receive instant support.

AI isn't always as good as human intervention. Exception cases do still exist and you will likely need a human to help get over those. But, you'll be able to help your customers most of the time and on some rare occasions, those in a different time zone will have to wait a little longer.

#2: Engaging and Simple Customers Experience

"According to Gartner research, 89% of the competition between businesses will be placed mostly on customer experience in a few years from now."

When you create your core product or service you probably spent some time optimizing functions to ensure that they work in a way that is intuitive and easy to understand. However, after adding some functions and responding to customer feature requests things get more complicated.

Remember that knowledge base you built, it may have gotten too big for customers to easily find what they are looking for. And that's what AI customer service can give to them. A very simple and familiar interface. After all, using a messaging app is not big deal right, you just type and you may get an answer or some options.

In the days of settings menus inside settings menus, this can be a refreshing and easy to understand.

#3: Increased Scalability

If you're reading this blog, company growth is probably on your mind quite frequently. Maybe you're even growing way too fast and you don't have enough staff or resources to deal with issues? We've been there and implementing a little bit of AI in the right parts of your business can let you stretch your current staff to their full potential.

In our case part of it had to do with the time zone issue we have already talked about but implementing Rocketbots in our own business helped in a lot of different ways.

The first is that we needed to hire fewer people for service, this meant that we could spend more time looking for quality hires and we were able to skip people who we did not think were perfect for the job. Although it seems easy, with so many different messaging app possibilities it takes someone who can understand the technical limitations of each specific channel clearly as well as someone who can understand a customers business in depth to guide them in using the functions we have created for the best results. This is a not an easy job.

Because of smart replies, it was also easier to train new hires. Although we have built up documentation that clearly explains how everything works sometimes customers just ask things using words that we wouldn't normally use. Smart replies guided our new employees much more quickly to understanding what is being asked.

Automating smart replies removed the burden of repeat questions from our service staff. This allowed them to focus on understanding new problems and gives them time to relate that feedback to our product team in a structured way.

If you're a growing business looking for some of these benefits why don't you give us a try?

Author
Taylor Wong

Content Writer @ Rocketbots. Previous student reporter at South China Morning Post. English major from Hong Kong Polytechnic University. A quirky storyteller. Tech enthusiast. Loyal believer in the religion of food. Dog lover.

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