If you’re considering how to improve your customer service with AI, you’re not alone. You may even have tried and been dissatisfied with the results, like many others. But now is the time to act, if you can.
The secret of customer service is everyone knows it’s bad. It’s long been seen as a cost center more than anything else. Why invest more money in an area that only costs you money?
Customer service isn’t a cost center, though. In fact, it can actually help you generate revenue through upselling or offers, and is vital to not losing revenue. Thankfully the negative attitude toward customer service has changed as it has become increasingly digital, and the recent advances in AI technology have seen more become interested in improving their customer service by automating where possible, including entire interactions.
If you’re a customer service focused business, now is the time to embrace AI for two main reasons.
AI Should Improve the Customer Experience
Customers today expect a personalized service experience. And if they don’t get it, they’re willing to take their business elsewhere - and quickly. In fact, according to research from Coveo, 96% of people say a negative customer service experience affects whether or not they would buy from the company again, while 76% say they would drop a brand after three negative customer service experiences.
At the same time, 88% of customers have higher expectations than ever before, according to a HubSpot survey. This means that in order to provide the positive experience that will keep customers coming back, they need to improve their customer service experience to meet the new standards.
Businesses are more aware of this, too. It’s why they use metrics like CSAT (customer satisfaction) scores that help them track customer sentiment. It’s also why they’re investing in AI for customer service.
When used correctly, AI for customer service should enable self-service for simple, high volume use cases, and should provide intelligent routing to a customer service representative for more complex cases. On top of that, it needs to be intuitive and easy to use for customers. You can do this in several ways, including:
- Make the AI bots as conversational as possible - leveraging conversational designers to create natural interactions
- Allow users to opt out if they are uncomfortable talking to a bot - while there are some generalities based on age, you should understand your specific users and how they want to interact with a bot
- Let users interrupt the bot when possible to answer a question and continue the conversation
Businesses Still Want to Reduce Customer Service Costs
The second major reason businesses have been embracing AI for customer service comes back to the cost: they want to save money.
Customer service may not be seen purely as a cost center now, but it is expensive. And with 40% of Generation Z saying they will abandon a brand if they can’t resolve an issue on their own and nearly 60% of customers feeling that long hold and wait times are the most frustrating part of customer service, not meeting customer expectations can come with further financial consequences.
Because of this, 60% of companies are actively investing in AI for self-service capabilities, with the idea that you can automate partial or entire interactions and thus eliminate some, if not all, wait time. The idea works in two ways - eliminating the wait time will improve the customer experience and thus reduce potential lost customers, while the time customer service representatives spend talking to customers is expensive, often costing upwards of $1 per minute. With even simple tasks like authenticating a customer’s identity taking around 90 seconds on average, the costs for even simple tasks are millions of dollars a year.
It seems counterintuitive, but investing in customer service should mean it costs less.
If you’re presenting a business case to implement AI for customer service, improving your customer experience and the potential savings are likely the results you’ll need to tie it back to. However, it’s important to note that implementing AI in the right way for your customer is vital to the initiative having the desired effects. You may also have to act fast - if you’re not an early adopter comparatively, customers will compare you to your competition, and the bar will be raised above your current service level.
Throughout this series of blogs, we’ll continue to look at how businesses can get started with customer service, including common use cases and steps to effectively get started. We also have a guide on the topic called How to Get Started With Customer Service available for download, and experience in the AI-Enabled Customer Service space if you’re looking for help.