Is Ditching Phone Customer Support a Smart Decision?

There’s an old saying – “the squeaky wheel gets the grease” – that sometimes rings all too true for customer support teams. When prioritizing support inquiries, there’s a hierarchy of channels. Email sits at the bottom, with response times ranging into hours or even days. Chat is somewhere in the middle, with customers expecting a response in a few minutes. Phone support sits at the very top. It’s common for customers to call in and expect to speak with a real person right away. If they’re left on hold, it’s a frustrating experience that contributes to driving customers away from a business.

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How AI Customer Support is Changing the Customer Service Industry

It’s no surprise that AI (Artificial Intelligence) is really starting to make an impact in the customer service industry. How companies interact with customers is being strongly influenced by this emerging technology. Sure, the “chat bot” comes to mind immediately, but even that has taken a backseat to larger uses of AI which still involve (and improve upon) the human element.

Customers often seek out service because they have a problem and they want a person to empathize with them and make it right. Even with extremely sophisticated AI, a chat bot won’t be able to relate to a human experience, especially if it’s fueled by an emotional attachment.

So, how is AI changing the customer service industry to enable agents to make these human-to-human moments more impactful? Here are a few ways…

Less reliance on manual processes – In the past, large customer service teams needed a “ticket routing agent”, or an employee assigned to route tickets based on their contents. When customer service software first became commonplace, this ticket management role was all but eliminated and tickets were assigned randomly. This then evolved into tickets being assigned based on automation rules (i.e. all tickets with “server” in the title went to Janice). But now, with AI, the contents of a ticket can be analyzed to not only pick up the meaning of the ticket – outage, broken product, and more – but also the tone (frustrated, satisfied, angry). This type of AI can help tremendously in getting a ticket to the right person from the start.

More informed agents – Before AI was directly involved in customer service, it was difficult for agents to obtain information that was relevant to them and their role in a company. Unless you had a stellar team that tagged every single ticket perfectly, key information would get misclassified or lost through the cracks. With the help of AI, it’s now becoming more common to see software solutions that automatically tag, categorize, and index tickets for easy reference. So, the next time there’s a weird issue with a software integration, a quick ticket tag search will be all that’s needed for an agent to educate themselves.

More intelligent responses – AI isn’t just helping with customer information, it’s also working to make agents better at conveying their messages to customers. Some customer service software solutions are implementing forms of grammar and spelling assistants to improve the written word skills of their employees. For example, instead of saying “it’s getting there”, the AI may suggest “we are completing” or a similar phrase that comes across as more professional.

Less tickets created in general – We’ve already discussed how AI helps with routing, categorizing, and responding to tickets. But how can it help with avoiding the creation of tickets in general? One of the new and innovative ways AI is being used to deflect tickets is by creating chat recommendations in real-time based on the contents of a chat before it’s submitted. For example, typing “I need to reset my password” into chat will suggest self-service links about resetting log-in information right in the chat window.

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Increased customer expectations – The last way has nothing to do with the capabilities of AI technology. Instead, it’s rooted in the ever-changing customer psychology. The bottom line is customers are now becoming used to living in an AI world. Companies that don’t incorporate some sort of AI into what they do stand out, and not in a good way. It’s making solutions that once felt sophisticated feel dated, and changing customer perspectives on how they view the businesses they choose to work with. It means more times than not, companies that are utilizing AI in service are seeing happier customers.

 

To summarize, AI is changing the customer service industry because it makes employees smarter and improves communication. It’s raising the bar for how companies talk to customers and what is and isn’t worthy of creating a ticket. In the future, expect AI to be even more closely knit with service agents so they can create better customer experiences.

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