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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5 Ways to Use Artificial Intelligence for Customer Support

It’s no secret that the customer experience (CX) has risen to the top priorities of most companies today. Businesses are putting a lot of effort into ensuring that their customers not only enjoy their experience with a company or service, but that they want to share that experience with others.

One of the best ways to delight customers is to resolve questions and problems as quickly and seamlessly as possible. However, this can be difficult for organizations to do well, especially as they scale. Everyone can relate to stories of sitting on hold seemingly forever just to ask a customer support agent a simple question. What’s worse is that those agents have likely answered that question countless times already that day, and every day before.

Fortunately, this process doesn’t need to continue in the future. More companies are incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) into their customer support teams to improve relationships. Further, AI is able to assist these teams in ways not previously possible.

With this said, let’s evaluate five ways you can use artificial intelligence customer support to help your support team…

  1. Faster Answers – Agents and customers hate waiting. It’s frustrating for both parties, especially when the answers should be simple to find. AI is able to handle commonly asked, simple questions through live chat experiences and can refer customers to helpful self-service articles. In addition, they’re available 24 hours a day, meaning customers can get answers from your company at any time.
  1. Reduced Research – Customer support teams spend a lot of their time researching answers. This increases how long customers need to wait for a response and makes agents less available to other customers. With modern technology, AI can store answers and recognize trends in commonly asked questions. This way, agents can be provided with a choice of frequent answers to automatically insert based on the content found in the ticket.
  1. Stronger Customer Engagement – In the old days of call center customer support teams, agents were measured on how quickly they could get a customer issue resolved and end the conversation. With much of today’s customer support engagement being handled online, businesses are often looking to have more lengthy and engaging conversations with their customers now. This is where AI helps. By leveraging information procured from customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, AI can highlight key customer information and make it immediately accessible to agents. This lets them approach customer interactions with more intelligence than ever before (find out more about AI-powered and AI-integrated CRMs and get recommendations for products here).

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  1. Predictive Insights – Companies want to improve the customer relationship with more relevant information to increase transparency and communication. To help customers stay connected, companies are using AI with predictive insights to elevate their work. While a customer support agent isn't able to quickly scan previous products and inventory to recommend similar items a customer may like, AI is able to do that instantly.
  1. Next Steps in the Conversation - One of the toughest things for a support team to immediately gauge is the true importance of a customer issue, especially when trying to analyze something like an email or chat message. Online communication can be interpreted in many ways, and when there are hundreds or thousands of messages coming in each day, it can be difficult to know what next steps to take with a customer. This is where AI technology using sentiment analysis can help agents determine when to escalate issues and who should handle them. With sentiment analysis, tickets are automatically categorized as “excited”, “frustrated”, or other classifications, which helps agents understand how they should prioritize their work.

To summarize, keep in mind that AI is not here to replace customer support teams, but to make them more effective. AI can compile information quickly but struggles to replace or replicate real human relationships. The use of AI in supporting support teams helps them to be more strategic and work smarter.

***

Jessica Barrett Halcom is a writer for TechnologyAdvice.com, with specializations in human resources, healthcare, and transportation. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay and currently lives in Nashville, TN.

 

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