Artificial intelligence (AI) is taking the world by storm, and its popularity is only growing.
Clearly, AI has or will have implications for most areas of business, including customer support. While customer service may seem as human-centric a job as there can be, AI customer support is increasing in popularity. Yet only 27% of global consumers say AI can deliver the same or better service than humans.
So, is implementing AI in your customer support a must-have or a big mistake? Read on to learn the basics of AI-powered service and the benefits and drawbacks of making this decision for your business.
Who Uses AI Customer Support?Any business that offers some form of customer support can use AI to enhance and streamline the experience. That includes SaaS companies, ticketing software providers, IT teams, and companies that have a help desk portal where users can submit issues.
How Does AI Customer Support Work?
Artificial intelligence in a customer support context can work in several different ways and can be implemented in numerous use cases. We’ll touch on some of the main ones here:
One of the most common usages is implementing an AI-powered chatbot. A chatbot uses AI, natural language processing (NPL), and natural language understanding (NLU) to imitate human speech and communicate with users.
Most chatbots are programmed to manage more routine questions, such as "what is my ticket status?” or “how do I reset my password?” A user will select from a list of questions or type in their own, and chatbots pull information from the internal system to assist. If the chatbot can’t answer the question, it will automatically escalate the concern to a live agent.
2. Ticketing Automation
AI can also streamline ticketing processes by categorizing customer support tickets. AI can analyze incoming tickets and, based on specific keywords, automatically tag and prioritize each ticket so that it’s assigned to the right tech every time.
Similarly, AI can route and sort incoming emails and other correspondence. For example, if an inbox receives an Out-of-Office automated response, AI can “see” that and autonomously resend an email to that address the following week.
3. Text and Survey Analysis
As AI gets more advanced, it can analyze text and customer surveys and detect whether the language is positive or negative. Also known as customer sentiment analysis, this process helps businesses understand how consumers feel toward their brand. It allows analysts to view the aggregate data collected by AI and discover any kinks in the customer experience.
One way to ensure a positive sentiment? Using AI to detect a user’s language and respond accordingly can make a big difference. 68% of consumers would switch to a different brand that offers support in their native language, and AI can enable that multilingual support.
The Benefits of AI Customer Support
- 24/7 Support: A chatbot and other AI customer support tools don’t need sleep! Using AI shows a sizable reduction in waiting time. Consumers can often get their questions answered by a chatbot or knowledge base within minutes without ever interacting with an agent, which significantly boosts customer satisfaction.
- Increase Staff Resources: When techs don’t have to spend time answering simple questions or collecting basic customer information thanks to AI, they can focus on high-priority, complex tickets. This frees up tech time and shows a marked increase in team productivity.
- Handle Large Volumes of Data (at a Lower Cost): Companies that use AI can handle and track a larger influx of data without having to hire a whole new team of employees. The AI can also analyze and provide valuable insight and predictions about customer behavior, which makes data-backed strategic planning simpler.
The Drawbacks of AI Customer Support
- Cost & Maintenance: Purchasing, implementing, and maintaining AI – especially because it evolves so quickly – can be costly. Using a chatbot alone can cost as high as $10,000 per month. Plus, training agents to feel comfortable with AI can take months.
- Improper Escalation: AI is still at a stage where it can make mistakes. While it might lessen the chance of human error, artificial intelligence may improperly escalate tickets and not know how to handle issues that aren’t run-of-the-mill.
- Losing the Human Element: As mentioned earlier, only 27% of consumers think AI delivers the same level of support as humans. Some customers will always want to talk to a real-life agent, and dealing with AI has the potential to cause them serious frustration.
AI Customer Support: The Conclusion
Whether you want it or not, AI customer support is here to stay and changing the entire customer experience. Most agree that the benefits of using AI in this context, including the 24/7, high-capacity support, outweigh the drawbacks. Before deciding whether AI customer support is right for your business, determine your size, needs, and strategic goals and move forward from there.
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