Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the hottest topics today. It has been for years. In an age where customer experience (CX) plays a pivotal role in a customer’s decision to stick with a brand long-term, it’s no surprise that brands are turning to this technology to help them meet their customers’ ever-growing expectations. Not to mention, to empower and help ease the load for their support agents. Enter AI customer service.

Companies today are implementing AI in their key customer service processes on their different channels (website, social media, IVR, etc.) to best support their customers wherever they are in the customer journey. It’s important to remember, though, that AI in customer service is best used to enhance human customer service, not replace it.

In this post, we look at the growing role of AI in customer service, the advantages of automating certain aspects of customer service to improve the support experience, and AI-powered tools companies can consider to elevate their customer service experience.

What is AI customer service?

AI customer service, or AI customer support, is the use of artificial intelligence, including machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP), to automate and augment aspects of the customer service experience and help companies and agents deliver quick, accurate, and consistent answers that meet customers’ expectations.

AI Customer Service Examples

How is AI used in customer service? Artificial intelligence offers many opportunities to evolve the customer service experience that can benefit companies and customers alike. Before diving into these benefits, let’s look at three use cases of what incorporating customer support AI into service experiences can look like.

AI customer service chatbot

One of the most common ways brands leverage AI today is through the use of chatbots. For example, the number of monthly active bots live on Facebook Messenger, one of the most common channels through which brands are using chatbots, jumped from 100,000 to 300,000 from 2017 to 2018. This number is likely only to keep growing in the coming years.

Implementing an AI support bot on your website, mobile app, or even on your social media profiles (e.g., via Facebook Messenger) helps customers help themselves at critical stages of their journey and on their preferred channels. A customer service chatbot helps customers get instant answers to their questions. It also helps them get instant gratification, limiting their need to search around or contact an agent to obtain answers. For example, to help them:

  • Gain in-depth product details to help them make a purchase decision
  • Get product recommendations based on their specific needs
  • Obtain product troubleshooting information to help them get the most out of a product

Automated customer service email triaging and drafting

How many customer service emails do your agents receive every day? How much effort do they need to read, analyze, triage, and escalate every support request as it comes in? What about to draft a response to help resolve a customer’s issue on the first attempt?

One study found that a support ticket costs a company an average of $15.56 to address. That comes to about $1.60 per minute of handle time. Companies now can leverage AI-driven email virtual assistants to help lower these costs and help agents more effectively complete each of the tasks mentioned above. As a result, AI can help agents better provide the fast and accurate responses that customers expect today. In the process, this can help potentially improve or maintain customer satisfaction (more on that in the next section).

Real-time keyword, topic, and sentiment analysis for social media posts

Word spreads faster than ever. Nowhere is this truer than on social media. Today, brands must be paying close attention to how people speak about their brand on social media. Most importantly, they must respond quickly to the most critical posts, especially the negative ones.

Brands can leverage artificial intelligence, specifically conversational AI and natural language processing (NLP), to identify in real-time how customers speak about them online without needing to review each of these mentions as they come in manually. Not to mention how they talk about the brand via sentiment analysis, keyword analysis, and topic categorization. These AI-powered insights then help social media and customer service stakeholders to escalate and respond quicker to critical social posts.

How is AI improving customer service?

A strong mix of human and automated customer service can be very effective in helping brands deliver quick, accurate, and painless support experiences their customers expect.

Here are just some of the benefits of AI in customer service:

Meet customers’ growing expectations of “do-it-yourself” customer service.

When it comes to customer service, people want to do things their way. More than six in 10 customers prefer digital self-serve options to answer their questions. They only want to speak with an agent for more complex issues. The growing use of AI-driven chatbots, ones that also allow customers to escalate to an agent when needed, help support these new preferences.

Help customers obtain quicker answers to customer service questions.

Ninety percent of consumers find it important to answer their support questions within 10 minutes. With such a tight timeline, brands can’t afford to let support cases sit in the queue. It’s paramount for companies to have the measures to address customer service questions quickly and accurately, 24/7. Leveraging AI in customer service processes helps meet these growing demands without customers worrying about operating hours.

Guide people seamlessly along the customer journey.

From the time they start their research to when they start using your offerings, brands can leverage AI to support customers at each stage of their journey. For example, more online shoppers turn to AI-driven chatbots as shopping assistants to help them more confidently make their purchase decisions and complete checkout without jumping through hoops and between pages to do so.

Empower customer service agents to act more confidently and quickly.

On a given day, agents can find themselves answering many of the same questions from customers. That can contribute to taking longer to get to more urgent requests that come in, especially when they need to research internal knowledge bases for solutions. AI is helping lighten the load for support agents and help them address more complex tickets more quickly. For example, using an AI-powered tool like an email virtual assistant (as examined in the previous section) can automatically sift through these tickets and draft responses based on internal knowledge bases or how other agents successfully addressed this type of request in the past.

Identify and flag critical issues in real-time.

Companies today must act fast for their customers. They can’t afford to “get to it when they get to it”. When someone reaches out to your brand (e.g., support ticket) or mentions you online (e.g., social media), you must act quickly. They need to be able to escalate these items to the right stakeholders so they can address critical issues quickly. Leveraging AI and NLP can help brands process and analyze incoming messages and social posts in real-time to give agents the information they need to prioritize their next steps better.

How Astute helps brands power their customer service with AI.

Artificial intelligence’s role in customer service will continue to grow alongside customers’ expectations for quick resolutions. When leveraged correctly, AI can help elevate human customer service and prove vital to any customer-centric companies’ CX initiatives.

Astute offers AI-powered customer engagement solutions to help you deliver the exceptional service customers crave from your brand.

  • Astute’s award-winning AI-driven chatbot makes it easy for customers to engage with your brand and help themselves at any point during their purchase and post-purchase experience.
  • Our Email Virtual Assistant (EVA) does the heavy lifting of processing and coding every incoming support request. EVA also helps draft responses based on how agents successfully addressed requests previously, also pulling from internal knowledge bases.
  • Astute’s social media management platform performs sentiment, keyword, and topic analysis for every message and posts mentioning your brand on social media, helping you identify, escalate and address urgent messages to ensure timely responses.

See how Astute can help you elevate your customer service with AI-driven tools. Request a personalized demo today.