Articles/The new ABCs for customer service – Automation, Bots and Conversational AI

The new ABCs for customer service – Automation, Bots and Conversational AI

What business are you in? If your response is ‘customer experience’, congratulations. No matter what product you sell or service you offer, everyone should be in the customer experience business, too. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is giving customer service teams the leg up they need to sail over a service bar that continuously gets raised in the always-on world we now live in.

The new digital customer wants faster, better outcomes from all their interactions. That means customer service teams need to give individual personalised attention en masse. 

AI and automation have the superpower to give customer service teams a  platform to provide such one-on-one service experiences. Connecting with what consumers really want at scale to enhance customer satisfaction, reduce costs and ultimately grow revenue and your business.

Satisfied customers are loyal customers 

When you use AI to deliver on customer expectations for timely, effective personalised interactions on their terms, they repay the favour through loyalty, referrals, sales and revenue.

Using AI-based customer intelligence in your contact centre improves customer satisfaction by up to 20%, revenue by up to 15% and lowers the cost of serving customers by around 20%. 

Results show that when contact centres solve issues on the first call, 99% remain customers. When you don’t get it right the first time? You lose 15% of them. American Express has an even scarier number. It found one in three people consider switching companies after just one poor customer service experience, leaving little room for error. 

Customers don’t just want issues resolved the first time, they also want answers fast. Nine out of ten customers say getting an “immediate” response to a service question is very important. 

When the clock is ticking, AI delivers answers faster than any human possibly can, instantly putting all the information needed to resolve a customer issue at an agent’s fingertips in real time, including suggestions and prompts based on sentiment and past interactions.

A dynamic duo - bots and human beings

AI and automation give you flexibility. Conversational AI-powered bots can start conversations with customers and easily answer routine enquiries, like opening hours or changing a password. When the bot identifies more complex issues, it can seamlessly direct queries to the right human agent to manage and ensure their time is spent with customers who need it most. 

Bots have the ability to free agents from mundane enquiries so they can handle more satisfying, higher value, complex requests and issues. The result? Your agents are happier, more engaged and effective. Furthermore, engaged call centre employees are four times more likely to stay, than dissatisfied employees, and three times more likely to feel extremely empowered to resolve customer issues. 

Add up the savings

Poor customer service experiences cost businesses big bucks – around $75bn every year according to Forbes

On the flip side, conversational AI and automation deliver cost efficiencies. Chatbots reduce staffing and training costs, they don’t work to a roster, or take holidays and sick leave. 

Making sure you pick up every call saves money. A simple 1% improvement in first call response rate equates to approximately $276,000 in annual operational savings for contact centres. 

Always on, scale as needed

Implementing a Conversational AI strategy means your business can respond to customers around the clock. They get the answers they want, when they want it, without having to wait in a queue – or for standard business opening hours to come around. 

And, AI makes it cheaper and faster to scale up as your business grows or during spikes in demand due to seasonal or unexpected factors. When calls to contact centres skyrocketed when COVID hit, it was contact centres with AI-powered bots that could deal with the unprecedented spike. No need for recruitment ads and the need to very quickly try and train up a new, quickly pulled together human team. 

A small step before a giant leap

Digital is a necessity, not a novelty. But implementing conversational AI-based customer service delivery is not a case of all or nothing. It’s a journey of continuous improvement. Dip a toe in, start small, learn, validate the data to ensure you’re on the right path, and make incremental improvements with absolute confidence every small step will lead to a service improvement.

The most important thing is not where to start. It is to make the right start.