Mainstream media has left little doubt that AI has a strong future in the often repetitive world of customer support. One of the primary implementations of early AI is in the form of chatbots or chat assistants, and with good reason. On average, a well planned support chatbot can save companies millions by reducing tier one requests alone.
However, there are a number of other ways that adding AI to your support presence can drive significant benefit. Here are ten ways that we have seen AI support chatbots revolutionize support:
1. Shorter queues, particularly in tier one scenarios
The obvious place where chatbots can have a huge impact is simply by solving a very high percentage of tier one type questions. Recent experience suggests that AI agents can routinely handle up to 90% of tier one requests. Research by Tableau predicts up to 30% of customer service jobs will be replaced by AI automation in the near future.
Bots are particularly well suited to answering common questions such as “What is your address”, “what are your hours” and “how do I return something.” More advanced bots can go a step or two beyond your FAQs:
- Bots can be taught to help customers with troubleshooting
- You can give your bot the ability to calculate complex costs or look up where an order is
- Bots can also determine if a given system is online or provide health monitoring
2. Providing a better customer experience in today’s “immediate” economy
We live in a time where consumers increasingly expect, and oftentimes DEMAND an immediate answer to their questions. Not surprisingly, recent research proves the point with “time waiting to get help” ranking as the single highest pain point for customers contacting support.
Providing this level of support is exceedingly difficult and expensive as it requires maintaining more personnel on staff than needed at any given time. Deploying AI bots can provide immediate “human like” help for customers that scales as needed.
3. Increasing agent efficiencies
In many companies, agents follow a well worn path of question and answer at the beginning of every interaction. This is equally tiresome for agents and customers, and can be handled from beginning to end by an AI experience. As the bot gathers data, everything is logged and by the time the issue is handed off to a human, half the work is already done.
This has the potential to improve first call resolution, and significantly drive down your cost per incident.
4. Providing coverage “off hours”
For AI bots, there are no “off hours”. For many companies, providing 24/7 support is simply too expensive to be feasible. Deploying an AI agent provides a way to offer support that is one or two steps better than a knowledge base, at all hours of the day and during all holidays.
5. Improving the knowledge base experience
Knowledge bases help businesses reduce the number of inbound tickets by asking customers to spend time solving their own problems. This benefits the company but adds considerable friction in the customer experience. Spending an hour searching and reading for a solution before giving up and contacting support is a terrible experience- especially when it can take hours to get a response.
With a customer service bot on duty, customers can interact with a company representative directly at the point of pain- skipping the hassle and opportunity cost of searching google and a helpcenter site for an answer that may not even be there.
6. Your human agents will have to level up
The word is out that AI is coming for customer service jobs. In fact, Public Tableau estimates that 30% of today’s customer service jobs could be automated through chatbots, at a savings of $23 billion in salary alone.
Adopting an AI chatbot in your company will send a strong message to your human agents that they need to start doing things that the bot cannot.
7. Handle demand spikes in stride
Dealing with a sudden spike in demand can be great for sales, and equally bad for customer support. Getting caught flat footed with a massive influx of inquiries can result in huge backlogs and poor satisfaction as customers clamor for answers to their questions.
Scaling support has always been a massive challenge- you can only hire and train so many people per day, per week, etc. The high turnover endemic to customer service jobs only exacerbates the problem.
With AI chatbot agents, you finally have a viable and infinitely scalable solution for when you get an unexpected jump in inquiries. Bots can engage many customers simultaneously, resolving many questions autonomously and doing preliminary troubleshooting before handing the customer off to a human agent.
8. AI can traverse product silos seamlessly
In today’s world of complex products, human agents are often silo’d and can only provide support for the specific products, services or features for which they have been trained.
As a customer that means when you call in with a technical problem then need to resolve a billing issue, you get the joy of waiting on hold twice. Companies simply cannot realistically expect everyone to be an expert on everything,
AI agents remove this barrier, as they can be trained to answer questions about all products and services.
9. Ability to switch to sales mode
Similar to the ability to jump between product silos, customer service AI bots have another trick- the ability to provide sales information. When a bot determines the customer may be a good prospect for a cross sell or upsell, the bot can either attempt to close the transaction immediately, or pass the lead to a sales rep for a follow up.
10. Strong ability to provide legacy support
As products advance, the cost of supporting previous versions mounts. Keeping staff trained to support legacy or obsolete versions of a product is an unfortunate cost of progress.
This cost can be mitigated by using support bots to help with support for older versions as there is no incremental cost. Once a bot is trained to answer common problems for a given product version, it will not quit or forget what it knows.