“By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with enterprises without interacting with a human.”
– This was one of the most surprising predictions in Gartner’s Customer 360 summit.
These numbers are good enough to make any experienced customer support executive cringe! As alarming as it can be, it is an idea that needs to be well thought out before implementation.
So to get you up to speed, in this article, we have compiled everything that you need to know before making the bold move of merging Artificial Intelligence (AI) with your existing customer support system. As an add on, we have also mentioned some of the best AI based support solutions available in the market.
First, let’s find out why AI is emerging as a crucial technology in providing customer support.
Why AI + Customer Support?
Due to a large number of benefits associated with AI, it has begun to intermingle with customer support.
It reduces the staff required to serve customers. Also, AI based systems can assist you with the most tedious and repetitive work. This spares time for your employees to be creative, and perform the high-level work they are paid to do.
Let’s see why companies are adopting AI so proactively.
1. Increasing accuracy and productivity
Artificial intelligence enables customer service agents to help customers faster and with more accuracy. Earlier, customer service agents had to memorize company’s customer policies and promotions. They had to sift through multiple databases looking for relevant customer information and process it while on a call with the customer.
Now, instead of having multiple screens open simultaneously, the customer service agents work with virtual agents. They simply need to type or speak the search terms, and the virtual agents locate and share the required information. This helps in making information gathering quicker and accurate.
2. Managing support tickets in bulk without the need of extra agents
When an artificially intelligent system is kept as a buffer for support tickets, it directly deals with the tickets and filters them out. The ones asking redundant queries are answered by the AI system itself. Only those that require deeper understanding and analysis are passed on to the support agents. This improves the efficiency of the support center drastically without the need of extra agents during peak hours.
3. Utilization of collected customer data
The huge amount of customer data that is gathered by companies can be used as a ‘knowledge base’ for an AI system. This system learns from data and acts accordingly. The more data you feed the AI, the better it works. And the more pattern it recognizes, the better it can communicate and handle customers.
4. Multi-language support:
Most of the MNC’s may have customers who speak different languages. And it’s nearly impossible for them to set up a customer care center capable of handling queries in all the languages preferred by their customers. A machine, unlike a human, can easily learn the multiple languages as required and handle such scenarios.
5. Auto responding bulk emails and support tickets:
AI enabled ticket management system helps your support center by responding instantly to frequently asked questions raised through tickets, Tweets, Facebook posts, etc. It retrieves all of your company’s content to answer your customer queries. With the same data, it also responds to bulk emails.
In this section, we saw why AI worked with customer support. Now let’s see in what ways it’s implemented.
How Artificial Intelligence Is Used In Customer Support?
So, which type of AI solution is best for your business and how to implement it? There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Instead, it’s essential that you choose the right technology for your specific application. Some technologies that have gained huge traction during the recent times are:
As per NarrativeScience, 48.5% enterprises use Artificial Intelligence for automated communications.
Google Now, Siri, and Cortana have become an integral part of our lives. And we all love them. Similarly, to assist the customers personally, you could use a friendly chatbot.
Chatbots and conversational AI that leverage Natural Language Processing (NLP) and AI can handle a wide range of customer support queries. These chatbots are able to interpret the intent of a customer’s questions and search its knowledge base, company’s databases, and approved external sources in order to formulate a relevant, accurate, and personalized response to queries.
Chatbots can either be deployed via SMS’s or on popular messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Slack, Kik, and Hipchat, or on the company’s own websites and apps.
Here are some chatbots developed by companies by making use of the available data, in order to provide a seamless experience to their customers.
Tacobot by Taco Bell
It’s a customized chatbot developed by Taco Bell to serve their customers over Slack. It allows the customers to order anything from their menu without leaving their Slack messenger. Customers can even customize their order by adding or removing food items (no lettuce, etc.) just as how they would order to a Taco Bell executive.
Yoko, Toshiba France
Yoko is Toshiba France’s first-line customer service chatbot. She’s able to handle many of the issues that users have about their electronics (For eg, “my battery won’t charge,” “I get no picture on my TV,” etc.) and can escalate issues to customer support reps when needed.
DOM The Pizza Bot by Domino’s
DOM helps users effortlessly order anything on Domino’s menu through Facebook messenger. As you can see in the image, along with being efficient at its work, it also has his own humour sense.
Luigi, Fiat Argentina
It’s a proactive (eliminates problems before they have a chance to appear) as well as reactive (responds to events after they have occurred) chatbot. It helps Fiat owners after making the purchase. And helps prospective buyers with making the right decision while choosing their car.
AceBot on Slack
It’s a Slackbot that helps you track expenses, upload invoices, classify and assign expenses, etc.
AceBot could also be your personal task manager on Slack which could help you manage tasks and collaborate with your teams effectively.
Enhancing Functionalities of a Chatbot
First of all, is that even possible? Yes, it is.
Whatfix makes this possible for you with the help of ‘guided walkthroughs’.
Understand it this way, while performing a task on your website, a user gets stuck somewhere and doesn’t understand how to proceed. So he goes ahead and seeks help from the chatbot. The chatbot might just give some suggestions and that could be the end of it.
But, with Whatfix in use, the chatbots provide a URL that redirects the user to a page where an interactive walkthrough can be run to provide live contextual help. The walkthrough then handholds the user towards the completion of the task.
Doesn’t it become simpler this way?
Watson: Virtual Agent by IBM
It’s often said that, what Siri is to your IPhone, Watson is to your business.
Watson is a Question Answering based computing system that got its name from IBM’s first CEO, Thomas J. Watson. It was initially developed to compete on the famous quiz show – Jeopardy!
In 2011, it defeated the former winners of the show and came out as the winner.
But that was just the start. Hardly anyone could have predicted that Watson was taking a lead to revolutionize the future of digital customer support.
Watson at Jeopardy!
Taking a step ahead of chatbots, IBM Watson acts as a cognitive service agent, helping customers find the answers they need in a natural, engaging way. This is done with the help of pre-trained industry and domain knowledge.
Consumers who interact with Watson can ask questions and get quick answers without any hassle. This beats the wait to connect to the traditional customer service centers.
Additionally, Watson’s analytics engine provides insights on your customer’s engagement and helps in understanding the constantly changing customer needs. Once Watson is deployed, the ‘Engagement Metrics’ dashboard that comes along with it can be used to understand more about the conversations that Watson has with customers. It helps you know about your system users which can help you deploy Watson in a better way.
Here’s a sneak peak on how the ‘Engagement Metrics’ looks like
Watson comes with a 30-days free trial, so you can easily start using it to find out its utility for your business.
According to experts, artificial intelligence should rather be called as augmented intelligence. Because AI augments human effort rather than replacing it completely.
Here, in the case of customer support, deploying an artificial intelligence based system between your customers and support agents can enhance your support functionalities by a great deal.
Let’s take an example to understand this better.
When customers contact you for help through a support call, they have to go through a frustrating experience with the IVR (instant voice response) till the call gets routed to a support agent. An AI based IVR would solve the frequently asked redundant queries by itself, passing on only the complex ones to the support agents. In this case, humans and AI are working together towards the same task.
Companies have been working dedicatedly towards providing augmented intelligence in customer support. Here are few of the most prominent ones.
Their AI based system gives reply suggestions to customer support agents. So that, instead of starting to type from scratch, an operator can edit a suggested response, saving support executive’s time significantly. It can easily be integrated with your favorite chat tools. The system also learns from past conversations to mimic human operators.
It improves the productivity of customer service agents by letting the machine pre-fill solution details, and answer repetitive questions through the use of machine learning and artificial intelligence. It unites computing power with the human ability to empathize and provides a seamless customer experience.
IPsoft has developed Amelia. She is a digital AI employee that is used to respond to queries within a chat. IPsoft boasts that what sets her apart is her ability to interact in a human way opposed to other AI chatbots that still has a robotic demeanor. IPsoft believes that a better customer experience is directly tied to the empathy shown by the agent. Amelia has an Emotional Quotient (EQ) that enables her to keep track of every client interaction and allows her to adapt her responses.
What is the Consequence of Merging AI with Support?
We have now come to a time when even the machines need to be made intelligent to increase human efficiency and productivity.
Integrating AI with your customer support tools would bring in a multitude of advantages, few of them are:
1. Increased efficiency and low cost of maintenance
2. Round the clock support
3, Intelligent machines do not require training, they learn from data
Due to a lot of advantages associated with AI, several nascent technologies have emerged that are leveraging its benefits to provide an unmatched customer experience.
But as of now, AI can only lay the foundations. Businesses still need people who can build on it. If organizations remove personal interactions, they might damage customer relationships. AI doesn’t yet have the complete ability to understand human emotions. Meanwhile, employees need to be equipped with soft skills such as listening and collaboration that serve modern customers promptly.
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We at Whatfix, enable companies to provide self-service support, with our intuitive guided walkthroughs. If you like the idea then we urge you to give it a try.