How AI 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…

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The Importance of Building Positive Relationships With B2B Customers

According to Forbes, B2B customers take their time to invest in new products or software for their work environment and employees as there is little margin for error. For example, a poor business decision can delay customer operations, forcing them to spend even more time and money to find a better solution.

This process can actually be advantageous as it allows your business to develop a strong relationship with potential customers during the marketing and sales process. However, even current customers expect the same level of attention and service they received during the sale, with the duty of maintaining this relationship falling to your customer support team. When agents act proactively and are quick to respond to incoming tickets, customers feel just as appreciated as they did during the sale.

B2B Customers Drive Retention and Churn
According to B2B International, most businesses lose 45 to 50 percent of their customers every five years. This can devastate a company that operates purely in B2B (Business to Business) industries. As opposed to the one-time payments or small subscription fees B2C (Business to Consumer) businesses see, B2B companies handle contracts, licenses, and subscriptions spanning hundreds and thousands of dollars. Should a customer leave, a significant portion of the business's revenue vanishes.

This is why it's imperative for B2B companies to place customers at the center of every aspect of their business. Increasing retention and reducing churn ensures a stable source of revenue and increases a company's share of the market. Customer satisfaction should drive product development, sales, marketing, and support efforts to keep customers engaged and prevent them from leaving.

It's better to keep current customers happy than to try and find new ones.It's better to keep current customers happy than to try and find new ones.

B2C companies can achieve a base of customers numbering in the millions, but this is less common in B2B where there are typically fewer customers and the value of each customer is greater. One thing many B2B companies do share with B2C is they both face fierce competition, so it's more cost efficient to maintain existing customer relationships. With this said, businesses should focus on customer relationship management and customer support.

B2B Customers Will Talk About Your Business
People like to talk, and they love to praise a service that goes above and beyond their expectations. At the same time, customers won't hesitate to send a negative review or comment if they're dissatisfied. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, as it shows exactly how your business is performing and indicates what you need to do to increase customer satisfaction.

Your business should also make attempts to interact with customers who never make contact. Just because they aren't speaking up doesn't mean these people are satisfied. They might be quietly researching the competition or engaging in conversations with other dissatisfied customers. Your agents should reach out to these individuals instead of waiting for them to approach the customer support team with an issue or concern. Online customer support software helps support teams understand their customers' needs, allowing agents to provide helpful tips and suggestions or address potential issues. These solutions also monitor a customer's level of satisfaction based on factors like number of open tickets and average resolution time.

Agents can also monitor online channels like social media and industry forums to identify dissatisfied customers. They should always respond courteously and show they will work hard to improve the customer relationship. If the customer does submit a ticket to your support team, the right B2B portal software helps prevent ticket collision and displays related tickets in a way that they can be resolved quickly and efficiently. This keeps all agents aware and informed so clients aren't frustrated by poor internal communication.

Customer satisfaction is imperative for the success of any B2B company. Without happy customers, a business will struggle to achieve the rest of its goals. Your customer support team can help maintain positive relationships and improve customer retention rates.

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