Should you use AI for Customer Support?

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Should you use AI for Customer Support?

Customer service is the lifeblood of every business – the frontline that can make or break your reputation. In today's fast-paced, digital world, customers demand quick and efficient support. That’s where AI customer service steps in.

With 80% of customers saying they expect bots and AI to improve their experience, AI-powered tools can work wonders for your customer support and bring a whole host of business benefits. We look at the pros and cons and show you how to make customer service AI part of your UX.

How is AI used in customer service?

There are plenty of ways to include customer service AI in your business, such as:

  • Chatbots

One of the most recognised AI-powered tools in customer service, chatbots, like Intercom or Ultimate AI are virtual assistants that can instantly answer questions, guide customers, and troubleshoot issues – in any language.

Best of all, chatbots can operate 24/7 across websites, messaging apps, and social media for anytime support. And customers love their accessibility - 64% say 24-hour service is chatbots’ biggest benefit.

  • Email responses

Forget the generic holding emails we’re used to. AI-generated emails can automatically categorise and understand customers’ questions, and tailor their replies to suit – instantly. That’s a huge win, given 90% of people say an immediate response is important.

  • Self-service

More and more customers are preferring to sort out problems on their own. AI can power user-friendly, intuitive ways to resolve their issues without the need to wait for a team member.

  • Natural language processing (NLP)

NLP helps AI systems talk and interact naturally. You can use NLP with chatbots, email and voice recognition systems for a warm and friendly approach that customers appreciate.

  • Sentiment analysis

Dealing with the occasional angry customer is part of every business. And as more people head online to leave reviews or ask questions, using AI for sentiment analysis can quickly analyse customers’ language and tone to gauge their level of satisfaction and reply appropriately, resolving issues in real time.

  • Predictive analytics

By looking at sales, customers’ data and website activity, AI can recommend products, offer discounts and even pinpoint customers who might be slipping away to keep everyone happy. It can also divide your customers into different categories, giving you the perfect opportunity to create a suite of targeted marketing campaigns.

Pros and cons of AI in customer service

While AI customer service offers lots of business benefits, there are a few things you need to keep in mind before diving in.

Pros

  • Improved efficiency

AI can take on those repetitive and time-consuming jobs so your team can focus on more important things. In surveys, two-thirds of businesses say investing in customer service AI resulted in significant performance improvements.

  • Consistency

The way your teams reply to people can sometimes depend on how they’re feeling, how stressed they are, or if the customer is treating them with courtesy and patience. AI can make sure everyone receives the same level of service, every time.

  • Increased customer satisfaction

Round-the-clock service and lightning-fast resolutions mean even more satisfied customers.

  • Reduced costs

Automating tasks and working smarter can improve efficiency and save money. Over half (54%) of businesses said AI tech helped cut costs.

  • Personalised customer experiences

By understanding your customers’ unique needs and preferences, AI can offer a personalised service that can make them feel truly special. Almost half (47%) of customers are interested in personalised deals, while 42% like AI-driven product recommendations.  

Cons

  • High initial costs

Once up and running, AI can be rewarding, but the initial investment in software, hardware, and staff training could be pricey, especially for small businesses.

  • Complexity

Implementing AI can be complex, and you may need to adjust your current customer support journey.

  • Employee concerns

Your customer service team might be worried about AI, so make sure they know it’s designed to help them. In fact, a survey of over 5,000 customer service professionals revealed AI helped them increase their productivity by 14%.

  • Technical challenges

Like any tech, AI isn’t infallible. Don’t get too dependent on it because if the system goes down or can’t handle certain issues, your customers will quickly vote with their feet. Over half will switch to a competitor after one bad experience, so always have a backup plan to manage your IT and customers’ needs during any downtime.

How to incorporate AI into your customer service journey

Ready to embrace the benefits of AI? Here are seven steps to show you how.

  1. Identify pain points

Pinpoint the areas in your customer service journey where AI can have the most impact. Whether it's speeding up response times, improving personalisation, or handling routine enquiries, know your goals.

2. Choose the right tools

Research the AI tools that match your objectives and your budget. Choose ones that are user-friendly and will integrate easily with your current systems.

3. Ensure data security

When nearly 82% of customers are concerned about AI and data security, complying with data protection regulations is non-negotiable. There’s no leeway for AI, so make sure you have the latest and best data protection measures you can afford to protect your customers’ info.

4. Train your team

Make sure your team fully understands the technical aspects and explain how AI will work alongside them.

5. Test and refine

Don’t rush. Add AI gradually and continuously monitor its performance. Analyse the data and get feedback from your customers and teams so you can tweak its performance.

6. Provide the human touch

Although AI is incredibly useful, make sure your team are on hand to handle complex issues and provide empathy where it’s needed. The perfect blend of AI and the human touch is a winning combination.

7. Continuous improvement

Tech and online business move fast. Regularly review and upgrade your AI to stay competitive and meet your customers’ changing expectations.

Including AI within customer support can make a big difference. With the right approach and AI tools, you can provide the exceptional service customers expect, while reducing costs, increasing customer satisfaction, and boosting your business.

Want to find out more about including AI customer service? Get 1-2-1 support from our V-Hub Digital Advisors

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