Exceptional customer service is an absolute must today.
For a company, however, it often involves a lot of struggle. Hiring and training support agents, buying expensive tools, working shifts – the list goes on. But don't worry, there is a solution!
Using AI in customer service can easily solve all of these concerns. AI can be an incredible helper in improving your support without sacrificing too many resources.
AI in customer service
Artificial intelligence (AI) is intelligence produced and demonstrated by machines and computers rather than human brains. AI comes in all shapes and sizes.
Typically, AI is of two types: narrow AI and general AI. Narrow AI is what we see in computers and smartphones in our daily lives. They’re intelligent systems that perform specific tasks without necessarily being programmed.
Examples of narrow AI are speech and voice recognition systems like Siri or Alexa, vision recognition systems in self-driving cars, medical AI scanning MRI results, and so on. General AI, on the other hand, is something we see more often in movies, the kind of AI that can learn on its own to do whatever tasks humans can do.
Narrow AI has a broader application in customer service. It supports customers by guiding them and answering any questions or requests throughout their journey. Additionally, it manifests in the form of customer support chatbots, customer self-service, machine learning to analyze customer data, natural language processing for voice recognition and support, and many other potential use cases.
AI in customer service is not that new. In fact, the very first chatbot (“chatterbot” as it was known) called ELIZA was developed in the mid-1960s. It was a psychologically intelligent assistant that helped doctors diagnose and treat patients.
The first commercial bots appeared just as the internet became a big thing. No longer purely “call” centers, contact centers introduced new ways of text communication. In the 1990s, the first true customer service revolution happened, and customers were inspired to talk to brands and businesses in entirely new ways.
How is AI used in customer service?
AI is a great tool for most support teams to provide exceptional customer service. Chatbots undertake various activities, from reminding customers to revisit their shopping carts to collecting feedback and asking them to write reviews. AI in customer service means 24/7 availability around the globe in any language, which inevitably attracts new customers and increases customer satisfaction.
AI can also work hand-in-hand with human support agents, replacing them in solving basic tasks while allowing them to focus on more complex cases. AI solutions like chatbots easily recognize the voice triggers and provide relevant information and guidance without human agents.
Another way AI incorporates into customer service is through data collection and analysis. The amount of data generated by customer communications is vast and can provide valuable insights into customer behavior, preferences, churn rate, and more.
Thanks to AI, you don’t need to analyze the data and draw conclusions from it manually. AI can also help gain a comprehensive understanding of customer intelligence, interaction intelligence, and conversational intelligence.
At this point, it’s obvious that all kinds of AI are widely used in customer service. However, how exactly can they help improve customer experience and satisfaction? What are the most compelling benefits of incorporating artificial intelligence?
Let’s find out.
How can AI improve customer service?
AI solutions can do a lot for customer service. They’re powerful tools that can help with virtually any daily task a human support agent performs.
Here are some ways AI can benefit customer service:
Improves lead generation
AI makes the buying process smooth, which unsurprisingly leads to more successful purchases. For example, AI makes it easy to analyze browsing history on company websites to determine what customers are looking for and guide them to what they need.
It also facilitates proactive support, allowing businesses to quickly identify customer issues before customers even know they have them. This type of approach inevitably makes lead generation seamless.
"AI within customer service serves as a channel to identify common trends and pain points for users. Rather than helping a customer one by one, we can now have hundreds of conversations simultaneously.
The expansion of data collection and customer touchpoints allows companies to get more insight into the customer experience than ever before.
With more and more personalized data, companies can now optimize entire businesses, from products and services to email templates and social media posts."
- Tony Do, Marketing Manager, Hubspot
As mentioned above, AI in customer service makes human agents’ work much smoother by solving fundamental problems while support agents focus on complicated cases that require human knowledge, empathy, and attention.
You can rely on your AI chatbot to take care of general inquiries. Chatbots monitor customer activity and can provide answers to frequently asked questions, help with abandoned cart recovery, offer assistance during the checkout process, and more. Even if a chatbot cannot solve an issue, it can easily transfer a customer to a human agent.
Facilitates stellar customer service
As artificial intelligence becomes more advanced, customer service bots are becoming exceptionally fast learners. An AI bot can collect relevant data about customers and improve customer satisfaction, resulting in better customer service. Personalized and targeted support, fast response times, 24/7 availability, and multilingual support are some of the things that improve customer experience and bring new levels of customer loyalty.
Using AI in customer service is cheaper than hiring customer service representatives as your business grows. You can even use free AI solutions for mundane tasks. Chatbot pricing varies from tool to tool, and every business can find its optimal solution. All in all, AI usually doesn't require a large initial investment if you plan to use it for customer service. However, the savings can be quite substantial.
Prevents employee burnout
Human account managers can't always be at their desks. Working in shifts and having too many people to cover every hour is costly. On the other hand, understaffing can lead to fatigue, burnout, and other problems in the team. So, what’s the optimal solution?
AI customer support can continuously work to support and replace human teams as needed. That doesn't mean chatbots can completely replace employees. It simply means that AI can help employees solve simple tasks and provide them with a good work-life balance.
Examples of AI in customer service
AI is mostly associated with chatbots in customer service. Undoubtedly, chatbots make up a large part of the market as they offer diverse support. However, there’s always more to discover when it comes to AI in customer service.
AI-powered customer service chatbots are computer software that mimics human conversations over chats to facilitate customer support. A chatbot can do a lot for a business. It engages website visitors, improves lead generation, answers frequently asked questions, and more.
Chatbots are available 24/7, answer questions in real time, and speak numerous languages. Even better, most chatbot setups don't require any coding knowledge. Chatbot design isn't rocket science these days, so it's definitely worth trying.
Self-service powered by AI helps customers solve problems, complete purchases, or navigate a website without asking human agents for help. Modern customers are busy and picky, preferring to solve their problems quickly and independently. AI in customer service can do just that.
Natural language processing (NLP)
Natural language processing is another widespread tool customer service teams use. It can be deployed in chatbots, phone calls, voice requests, emails, and pretty much anywhere you want people to write or say something.
NLP transcribes communications across different channels and analyzes the data to improve customer experience. It saves companies a lot of time and financial resources in data collection and analysis.
AI in customer service not only helps customers but also enables collaboration between employees. Human account managers can benefit from sustained and ongoing training to further develop their skills. In fact, AI can provide such training, at least in part.
AI can become an actual employee training expert, simulating thousands of situations that may arise while communicating with customers and assessing employees' ability to solve these problems.
Machine learning is now an indispensable part of practically every corporate development. It’s an essential mechanism for analyzing large data streams and deriving valuable insights. Machine learning empowers human agents by analyzing thousands of conversations and predicting common questions and possible answers when it comes to customer support.
Machine learning also enables chatbots and similar tools to improve responsiveness and solve problems based on the results of previous conversations, enhancing customer experience.
FAQs about AI in customer service
Integrating AI into your customer service can be a little daunting. But if you know the basics, you can ensure success right from the start. Let's look at some common concerns surrounding AI in customer service.
How is AI changing customer service?
AI is transforming customer service in every way imaginable. The way we interact with customers today is very different from what we did years ago. The processes are much faster, simpler, and more efficient.
Customers expect exceptional treatment and an outstanding experience – the need satisfied through AI. It reduces waiting times, answers all inquiries and questions in real time, recommends relevant products, and handles complaints.
Is AI in customer service expensive?
Short answer: it depends. However, the range of AI tools is so large that every company finds something for their wallet. As mentioned earlier, many AI tools, including chatbots, AI training, or NLP solutions, are available for free.
Many only have free trial periods; others are freemium solutions. Businesses generally don’t require a huge initial investment. You can customize how you spend money on customer service AI to suit your unique needs.
What do you need to set up AI for customer service?
The good news is that many AI solutions like chatbots can be added to your website quite quickly. It may sound unbelievable, but you need to follow only a few steps to set up AI in your customer service.
- First, you need to determine the primary purpose of your AI solution. Will it answer your customers' questions with a chatbot? Analyze data with machine learning or NLP?
- Next, you need to choose the primary channels. For chatbots, for example, there is a whole range of options: website, social media, messengers, mobile applications, and more. Choose a specific tool that suits your needs.
- Finally, adapt your solution to your needs. Train it, test it, and see if it's right for your business.
What are the risks of using AI in customer service?
The risks depend on your business’ specifics, the purpose of using AI, your customers, and many other factors. Simply put, common concerns revolve around potential privacy issues, maintenance of AI solutions, and tool limitations.
However, technology is evolving every day, and the risks are becoming less and less significant. If you feel that a particular tool isn't worth it, you can always switch to another or a completely different solution.
AI can be an extremely powerful tool in customer service, but only if used properly. If you choose to go intelligent, here’s a quick recap of things to keep top of mind.
- AI in customer service is now more than a buzzword – it’s becoming a must-have. AI can be in the form of customer support chatbots, customer self-service, machine learning to analyze customer data, natural language processing for speech recognition and support, and many other potential use cases.
- AI has diverse applications in customer service, from answering customer questions and inquiries to collecting and analyzing data and transcribing text and speech for insights.
- Setting up AI for support pays off. It improves lead generation, streamlines workflows, delivers a great customer experience, saves costs, and prevents burnout, among other things.
It's pretty obvious at this point that AI is here to stay in customer service. It's practical, revolutionary, and doesn't require a large initial investment. Additionally, the number of tools on the market today is overwhelming, and every business can find something to suit their needs.
All in all, using AI in customer service is becoming a gold standard for businesses, and it's high time to consider it.
Want to find out more about AI-powered software that'll do wonders for your customer service? Learn what intelligent virtual assistants are and how they improve customer service.