Customer service is a far too often forgotten component of a well-rounded digital marketing program.
It represents the fine line between just having a one-time customer and having a repeat customer who is happy to spread the news of your brand’s products and services.
Customer service bridges the gap between a purchase and a return customer by providing help, answering questions, and handling complaints or issues.
Unfortunately, it’s often put to the side in favor of other marketing or sales activities, leading to understaffed and unhappy departments.
Thankfully, Artificial Intelligence, or AI, is changing the name of the game in regards to customer service.
New tools, platforms, and techniques for managing customer requests are made possible through machine learning.
In this article, we’ll discuss how AI is changing customer service, how it benefits customer service teams, and ways you can learn how to use AI in customer service applications today.
How AI is Changing the Face of Customer Service
For generations, the quality of customer service behind a brand has been determined by employee headcount and bandwidth.
Customer service representatives struggled to manage workloads with the influx of questions and calls from customers.
AI has completely changed the way customer service runs in a business setting.
With AI, customer service departments can free up their days from repetitive and time-consuming tasks.
With extra time, customer service representatives have time to do more and improve the customer experience.
When customers feel like they have more connections to your brand and that their concerns are quickly and efficiently addressed, they are more likely to return.
Returning customers are the best way to control marketing costs and get positive brand feedback, as well as more sales.
What are the Top Benefits of Knowing How to Use AI in Customer Service?
Understanding how to use AI in customer service can help your brand grow and keep your customers delighted.
AI provides many benefits to customer service teams because they don’t have the time or ability to manage on their own, which creates a better work culture and ensures that effort is spent on important tasks.
Personalization is a common buzzword in marketing.
In short, personalization refers to the practice of tailoring messaging, offers, content and experiences for audience segments based on key identifying factors.
Personalization helps to increase customer satisfaction and deliver what each customer is looking for, rather than treating every person the same.
AI helps in personalization efforts by taking data and generating buyer personas which it can then connect products and services with, making each customer’s experience unique.
A common example of this is a recommended viewing list from a streaming service or a related products list email from a retailer.
Productivity and efficiency in employees are key elements of any successful business.
Not only does it ensure that everyone is doing their job, it means that employees feel satisfied in their positions.
AI automates the daily recurring or repetitive tasks that take up much of our productive time.
When certain tasks can be taken off the plates of customer service teams, they have more time to focus their productivity on more important tasks that grow the business.
Speedy and Always-Available Response
Is there anything worse than calling in to a customer service line and spending hours on hold?
Or typing in a live chat box to speak with a salesperson and being left waiting for a response?
Customers expect speedy responses at any time of the day.
AI helps to improve the customer experience with always-available bots that have instantaneous responses.
While these are obviously more limited than a real personal conversation, they still provide a wide array of possibilities to answer questions and let customers know they are being heard.
People want to reach your brand on their favored platforms.
Just having a Facebook bot or a website plug-in isn’t enough to satisfy today’s customer.
Thankfully, many chatbot and customer support AI platforms have built-in multichannel capabilities, meaning you don’t have to recreate your experience across different platforms.
After setting up your bot, the same program will be implemented across your network.
Reduction in Churn Rate
“Churn” refers to the number of customers that leave your brand to go to a competitor.
While there are many reasons for churn, like a better product or price, there is a significant amount of churn as a result of a bad customer experience.
AI can improve the overall quality of experience your customers have while on your website or social platforms, which in turn reduces the churn rate in your company.
5 Ways to Use AI in Customer Service Experiences
Now that you understand the benefits of knowing how to use AI in customer service experiences, let’s take a deep dive into some of the ways your business can utilize machine learning.
Outsiders to AI might think that it requires dedicated teams of developers and engineers, but the opposite is true.
AI can be weaved into your marketing strategies in many different ways with simple tools you might already have access to with your software.
1. Solving Users’ Most Frequent Questions
Customers will often have similar or even the exact same questions regarding your brand, your products and services, or your policies.
While creating a FAQ page on your brand’s website is always a best practice, sometimes customers want to get that information in other ways.
Chatbots and AI communication tools can connect customers to the answers they are looking for in a friendly, interactive, and engaging format.
Many customers prefer the experience of a conversation, even if it’s with a bot.
When your customer service teams aren’t fielding the same questions every day, it frees up a lot of time in the day to focus on other, high-level tasks.
Both customers and your customer service team will benefit from bots.
2. Learning Customer Behavior Patterns
While your marketing and sales efforts are taking in a large amount of data, parsing through all that data and gaining actionable insights isn’t as easy.
AI can go through massive data sets and pull out information related to customer behavior patterns.
When you understand the patterns exhibited by your customers, you can better predict the solutions or alternatives that will appeal to your audiences, as well as be able to predict important events and trends.
3. Speeding Up Response Times
In today’s fast-paced world, customers don’t want to wait for answers.
When a customer sends a message through a chatbot or a customer service form, they want an immediate response to their concern.
If you can’t quickly respond to customer needs, they can easily become frustrated with the experience and either leave to a competitor or be disillusioned in the customer service capabilities of your team.
Responding quickly is key to increasing customer satisfaction.
AI technology helps customer service teams bridge the gap between when a message is submitted and when a response is sent.
Whether it’s a chatbot that talks to the customer in place of a representative or an automated response that directs customers to an after-service line, there are many ways AI helps speed up response times.
4. Measuring Customer Wait Times
AI isn’t just used for shortening the gap between responses in chatbots — it can also be used to measure wait times for customers online, on the phone, or even in person.
AI can measure how long your customers wait for responses for live chats, hold times, and can calculate how long it takes for a customer to be seen after checking in for an in-person appointment.
When you understand how long customers are waiting, you can start to strategize on how to improve and expedite to make the experience better for your audience.
5. Capturing Large Amounts of Data
While some data is captured in forms or from purchase histories, AI can dive much deeper and capture large amounts of data.
Complex data that most team members wouldn’t know how to interpret or even collect can be mined by AI tools.
Even more so than capturing data, AI can comprehend and organize the data into actionable steps and clear insights.
AI finds patterns that people won’t notice and transforms complicated data sets into easy reports.
Wrap Up: AI is Changing the World of Customer Service
And it’s also making things easier and more efficient for customer representatives and teams.
With new tools, techniques, and applications for AI and machine learning, marketing teams are changing the ways in which they operate and moving forward with digital transformations.
If you’re interested in learning more about AI and how it is impacting the world of marketing, then check out our recorded webinar with Founder and CEO of PR 20/20 and the Marketing Artificial Intelligence Institute, Paul Roetzer!
This jam session goes over ways AI can be used in marketing, how brands combine tech and human touches, and how technology is changing marketing across the globe.