Who can blame consumers for expecting smart, transparent, and instant customer support? They’re used to asking a question out loud and hearing an immediate response from a smart device, or typing a few keywords into a browser and getting a buffet of answers in seconds.
This is AI in all its user-friendly glory.
And that raises the bar for businesses. Customer experience (CX) expectations are rapidly reaching an all-time high. Zendesk research suggests that prompt responses and resolutions to their issues are customers’ top priority and a key driver of their loyalty to a business. Consumers are no longer willing to sit on hold or wait for an agent to be available online. They want to have their request answered or their problem solved on their preferred channel. Nowplease.
AI is the right technology to help service and support organizations deliver personalized customer service and drive faster, more satisfying resolutions. There is still huge potential for how it can be used to better serve customers in all service interactions – and support organizations are paying attention to it. Every year, our Zendesk CX Trends study shows that more businesses and customers expect to use and interact with AI. In fact, industry analysts predict that in the near term, AI will impact the majority of customer service interactions.
With the busy holiday season approaching, it’s a good time for businesses to think about how AI can have an immediate impact, especially for retailers. Here are three ways to take advantage of it.
1. AI as the first line of response
Zendesk analysis shows that 80% of customer inquiries can be reduced to just 20 issues. For example, the retail industry typically sees the same types of questions related to returns, shipping, order status, and similar transactional issues. With AI, support software can be trained for these types of interactions and handle the highest volume of queries quickly, efficiently, and automatically.
AI can also be used to strike the right balance between bots and humans, creating more personalized and informed interactions that better serve customers. For example, specific requests, such as “I have payment issues,” can be prioritized and automatically escalated to an agent who is equipped to handle billing for faster resolution. Machine learning can even detect negative sentiment in requests that include things like all-caps or sarcastic language and route them to the top of the queue.
This allows customers who prefer to be self-service on a specific channel to get the resolutions they want and frees up agents to handle more complex issues and provide personalized service, as well as revenue-generating support and service. income.
2. AI as the best assistant for your agents
Our research found that 72% of agents report being frustrated with having to search for customer data. Fortunately, customers aren’t the only people served by AI. AI can also help agents by gathering relevant customer information in advance and forwarding a ticket to the right agent. Pre-trained machine learning can automatically guide agents on the best way to solve a customer’s problem in real time, understand context and intent, and recommend solutions.
This allows agents to be proactive in helping customers faster and more efficiently. And because AI solutions rely on keeping the agent in the loop and the agent making the final decision on how best to handle customer requests, AI accuracy is continually improved through the agent’s constant feedback on these recommendations.
These AI features can be a game-changer during the holiday season, when ticket volume and tensions are high. By allowing AI to take care of the massive task of data collection, then presenting context and resolution options, agents can focus on delivering the kind of personalized assistance that only a human (with a little help) can accomplish. New agents will also be onboarded faster by already having an expert assistant when they join a new company.
3. AI for long-term insights
While AI support solutions can provide fast, real-time relief during peak periods, it’s also important to consider how they can transform the organization over time. AI can help streamline operations by automating triage, routing conversations by intent, and increasing visibility into priorities. With insights like this, businesses can improve their operations by consistently delivering exceptional customer experiences.
As AI continues to evolve, support organizations can expect even more features that will enhance CX, both in frontline customer interactions and in business operations. AI will soon expand to encompass all service needs, starting with a notification from a bot that identifies a customer and detects customer intent, leading to the best course of action. But AI’s biggest impact may come from the insights it can provide to help you take preventative action. Identifying trends will allow you to anticipate issues that arise and identify common customer needs and areas of tension. In short, she will know when a customer experience is less than ideal and when a customer may not return. The results can be nothing short of transformative in terms of the data and analytics you can leverage.
Currently, some customer-facing AI features are already integrated into existing support technology. Many companies do not need to purchase and implement additional AI tools to take advantage of machine learning capabilities. For example, Zendesk’s AI capabilities are designed for businesses of all sizes, modeled on billions of data points, and can be configured quickly and easily. We recently launched new AI solutions such as Intelligent Triage and Smart Assist to enable businesses of all sizes to automatically triage customer support requests and access valuable data at scale.
The ultimate goal of AI in support functions is to ease the burden and complexity on customers and enable businesses to build powerful applications on a solid foundation. We are well on the way to democratizing this experience for companies in all sectors.
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