With a recent surge in new tools, Artificial Intelligence seems to be the hot topic on everyone’s lips at the moment. Whether you love it or hate it, though, there’s one thing we can all agree on: AI helps to boost efficiency and make operations more streamlined. That’s why so many website builders and businesses have already adopted it in their everyday processes.
So how can it help your business? There are tons of ways, but right now, we want to focus on customer service. You don’t need us to tell you how important customer support is to the success of your business. After all, without top-notch service, there won’t be any customers. But just because this rule is set in stone, that doesn’t mean the way you deliver it has to be. There’s always room to improve and innovate on how you’ve always done things.
With the pandemic causing more consumers to turn to digital and remote services, AI has proved to be an intrinsic part of delivering effective customer service. From front-line chatbots to behind-the-scenes data analysis, AI could bring a ton of benefits to your business.
In this article, we’ll explore what those benefits are, as well as look at any drawbacks you might have to consider when implementing AI to your website. By the end, you’ll have all the information you need to decide if introducing AI to your customer service processes is right for you.
Before we get started, though, let’s take a look at what AI customer service actually is.
To put it plainly, AI customer service is an artificial intelligence system that is designed to replace humans in the lower levels of the customer service hierarchy, helping companies to deliver a robust customer service strategy that is more consistent and efficient.
It can do this in a number of different ways. For example, AI customer service could be a chatbot, using natural language processing and pre-programmed prompts to mimic human conversation when dealing with customer queries. Or, it might be in a more analytical sense, taking customer data and scrutinizing it in order to deliver personalized recommendations.
Although this all sounds pretty technical, ultimately AI customer service systems are designed to help companies nurture an engaged target audience. Through rapid responses and high levels of personalization, their role is twofold: keeping customers happy, while also driving value for the business. It’s no wonder that 79% of customer service leaders are already planning to invest in more AI customer service capabilities in the coming years. Plus, plenty of website builders like Shopify and GoDaddy have already started to implement AI tools to help their users get ahead of the curve.
This all sounds great, but what does it mean for you in real terms? Below, we’ll explore the six main benefits of using AI customer service.
#1. Automatically Answer Repeat FAQs
There’s no getting away from it – customer queries are a core part of running a business. Answering them as quickly and effectively as possible is a key part of ensuring that your customers are happy, and therefore more likely to use your service or purchase from you in the future.
But queries don’t just answer themselves. More often than not, businesses have to employ a support team or divert precious team members in order to meet the customer query demand. Not only is this timely, but it’s pretty costly, too. Plus, with 68% of agents reporting that they feel overwhelmed, business leaders should be looking for new ways to combat these issues.
Using an AI system to answer these common customer questions is a great solution. It immediately frees up team members so they can focus on tasks that are going to add value to the business and help it grow, rather than answering the same questions over and over again.
Plus, because chatbots use natural language processing, this means they’ve been built to learn and mimic the way that humans converse. As a result, although your customers will be ‘talking’ to an AI system, it won’t feel like it.
#2. Providing Multi-lingual Support
Have you ever been on holiday to a foreign country and forgotten your toothbrush? Cue a frantic trip to the local pharmacy and a stressful attempt to convey what you need in a language you don’t speak. Now, imagine trying to do that every time you need to contact a business for support. Suddenly, reaching out for help doesn’t seem so easy or appealing.
But a chatbot that’s been programmed to speak a number of different languages not only makes it easier to take your business global but also breaks down significant barriers to providing best-in-class customer service.
Customers will feel more comfortable working through a query in their preferred language and therefore, the chance of overall customer satisfaction is much higher. As a result, customer loyalty is likely to increase, too. Especially if multilingual service is something that your direct competitors aren’t offering!
#3. Collect Customer Data For Insight
Customer service AI isn’t just good for answering queries in a variety of different languages. In fact, it also produces a treasure trove of data that you can use to transform your customer offerings.
Data is the lifeblood of business strategy and it helps inform the big decisions that are key to boosting company growth and improvement. Although customer service AI systems might not be the most traditional way to collect data, it can provide some really key insights into how your customers think.
So many of the conversations taking place focus on your users’ pain points, some of which you might never have considered before. These discussions are ripe with opportunities to minimize these problematic areas of the customer journey, leading to higher customer satisfaction and a smoother experience for all involved.
#4. Personalized Customer Experience
You don’t need us to tell you that personalization is key to securing customer loyalty; nowadays, 76% of customers expect it when browsing online. But what we will tell you is that AI customer service systems are a great way to deliver recommendations that your customers will actually want.
Customer service AI can observe customer behavior through the conversations it has with consumers as well as taking note of their browsing patterns onsite. This will then allow it to offer products that will match your customers’ needs.
Alternatively, some AI systems operate a service whereby customers can tell it what they’re looking for upfront. The AI then searches your site’s inventory to find items that match the stated requirements. Handy, right?
#5. Deliver a Consistent Customer Experience
For a human, no two days are the same. For an AI, every single day is ruled by a pre-programmed set of codes. That means where humans struggle to deliver the exact same level of service every time, AI is designed to do just that.
Why is this good? Well, it means that customers know what they’re going to get. As a result, there’s less chance of a bad experience and customers will feel more confident reaching out, secure in the knowledge that your AI system will be able to solve their problem.
Not only this, but AI is available 24/7. This means that your customers won’t be waiting around for a response – they’ll always be able to access a high level of customer service regardless of the time or day, with a much-reduced wait time, too.
#6. Save Money
Hiring and keeping staff takes money, especially when it comes to customer service. Companies deal with a ton of enquiries on a day-to-day basis, which means if you’re planning on using staff members to provide front-line support, you’re going to have to keep a chunk of your budget set aside in order to pay for it.
Using an AI customer service system, however, helps to keep costs down without forcing you to compromise on effectiveness and efficiency. It does the work of several humans at a fraction of the cost.
Of course, implementing an AI customer service system isn’t free. You’ll need to cover an initial payout, but you’ll make heaps of savings in the long run because an AI system doesn’t need a monthly wage. As a result, you’ll have spare cash to dedicate to more exciting projects that could help the long-term growth of your business.
Despite the good that AI can bring to a business, lots of customers have preconceptions about its effectiveness that could impact its overall success.
Generally speaking, many consumers prefer to ‘speak to a human’, especially if their issue is more complex than your usual run-of-the-mill query. Although 86% of customers expect online self-service options, there will always be pockets of people who would prefer to avoid AI completely.
Their reluctance isn’t completely unfounded. After all, AI systems aren’t conscious, and all of their actions are determined by a set of pre-programmed prompts. If a query falls outside of these parameters, there’s room for error that could ultimately lead to frustration for customers.
Equally, if in the past, your AI system has dealt with a basic query, your customers might be disappointed if it can’t replicate this good experience with an issue that is more complex.
So how do you manage this challenge? Well, ultimately it’s about balance and recognising that, although AI customer service systems can bring a lot to your business and help to streamline your support offerings, they can’t do everything. You need to work out where AI is going to have the biggest impact on your business, rather than just applying it as a one-size-fits-all blanket solution.
When all is said and done, AI customer support systems are computers, and computers can be vulnerable to bugs and glitches that can take services offline and result in temporary downtime.
This can cause frustration for both you and your customers, especially if they have a time-sensitive problem that needs solving. However, the only positive is that crashes like this aren’t a common occurrence and most AI support will be working hard to fix the problem as soon as they detect it. After all, it’s bad for their reputation if their platforms aren’t in tip-top shape 99.9% of the time.
Hang on, didn’t we just say that AI customer support systems can help you save money? Yes, but it’s important to acknowledge that using AI also comes with attached costs, too.
Many of these are upfront, but some systems might come with extra costs for upgrading the system and maintaining it. Additionally, some are more expensive than others, especially if you want something that is custom-made and requires a load more work to implement and manage.
It’s important to make sure you thoroughly research any systems you’re considering so that you aren’t surprised by any extra charges that might crop up further down the line.
AI is here to stay and it brings with it a range of benefits for your business, especially your customer service operations. From saving money and human resources to helping you collate data in order to improve the customer journey, an AI customer service system is well worth considering.
That’s not to say, however, that there aren’t a few challenges you’ll need to think about before you take the plunge. Consumer perceptions are ever-shifting, and it’s important to be wary of the occasional glitch and the total overall costs of implementing the system successfully.
Despite this, though, in the coming years, AI is set to become a regular feature for the vast majority of businesses. With customer service being one of the areas it’s best suited to, now is the perfect time to examine your current customer support offering and decide whether joining the host of organizations already using AI is the right move for your business.