If user experience is the new marketplace battlefield, then customer service is your front-line defense.
But there’s a twist … according to current trends, the battle isn’t conventional; it’s digital. Right now, nearly 38% of business have implemented artificial intelligence (AI) in their customer service department. By 2018, that number will rise by 62%. This is not a passing fad or trend of the day. Artificial intelligence in customer service is the future.
So how are people doing it?
In the following article, I’ll touch on 3 of the most successful ways businesses are using AI to boost their customer service operation.
- Enhanced Customer Experience
- Front-End Chatbots
- AI-Assisted Virtual Agents
With these models in mind, I want to help you start thinking about how you can use AI to keep up with your competitors. Let’s talk a little about each one.
1. Enhanced Customer Experience
Service begins with experience. By using AI to tailor a personalized experience for each customer, you’ll not only increase sales but decrease customer service requests.
Here are some examples of AI customization in practice:
- Amazon uses AI to drive personalized product recommendations.
- Facebook uses it to automatically tag photos.
- Google Maps and Waze use AI to route according to traffic patterns and volume.
- North Face employs IBM’s Watson to help users locate the perfect jacket.
Simply put, the best way to implement AI is to serve your customers before they have to ask to be served. If you can use machine learning and predictive analytics to give your customers a personalized experience, their overall impression of your business will greatly improve.
2. Front-End Chatbots
The humble chatbot: an automated responder designed to process your text inputs and perform basic functions. This little guy may not be one of AI’s most sophisticated achievements, but he’s a helpful guide nonetheless.
Curious? Check out Expedia’s Facebook Messenger bot to see a chatbot in action.
As exciting as chatting with a computer may be, AI alone is not yet ready to service customers 100% of the way. According to Robert LoCascio, CEO of LivePerson, customer satisfaction rates on these kinds of front-end bots is an abysmal 70%.
According to LoCascio, companies would do better with something he calls a Cyborg. Before we leave chatbots, however, we can’t entirely discount their utility for online customer service— especially when it comes to ticket deflection.
3. AI-Assisted Virtual Agents
What do you do when a chatbot can’t quite grasp the complexity of a customer’s particular request? Enter the Cyborg: part-robot, part-human, all service.
Companies like Dutch airline KLM have gone so far as to “assimilate” their entire customer service corps (wink, wink, Star Trek fans) by using complex machine learning algorithms and CRM-integration to virtually do all their customer service representatives’ work for them.
For most community managers, however, a modest appropriation of AI will be more than enough to add a necessary human touch to their online customer service efforts.
The virtual agent—basically, a chat bot with the addition of a face and a faux persona—can help customers feel a bit more at ease during their customer service interaction.
The virtual agent does more than just appear as a human, however. Like a chatbot, virtual agents can point customers to an established knowledge base. Unlike a chatbot, however, the virtual agent is backed up by a human being who can step in at a moment’s notice with more personalized advice.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, artificial intelligence is beginning to affect every aspect of business—especially customer service. Don’t get left behind. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, you must begin strategizing how you’ll use AI to enhance your own service operation.
Have you implemented AI yet? Leave us a comment with how it's been working for you.