When I reflect on the evolution of my engagement with the topic at hand, I am reminded of the comments I made long ago, delving into the forecasted influence of AI on brands' online interactions with consumers. From those early days, when AI's applications were primarily algorithmic and confined to apps and tools only, we have traversed an impressive journey. Today, the landscape has undergone a remarkable transformation and the advent of generative AI has brought about profound changes across various facets of marketing. It's truly remarkable to observe the significant strides we've taken since those initial reflections on the potential of AI as of 2023.
Customer service expectations are at an all-time high now more than ever. Thanks to the internet, customers are far more aware and know their rights and remedies. Despite business leaders' belief that their efforts to enhance customer service are effective, reality often falls short.
If you are a business leader reading this, I urge you to go and test your customer service via social media or chat.
Brands know what customers expect but struggle to deliver support that matches the quality promised by their products. While marketing may help you sell your product once, a brand’s true worth is equally reflected in the service and experience it provides to customers during and after the purchase.
As we move from 2023 to 2024, the customer service sector is seeing a shift, largely fueled by artificial intelligence (AI). The modern consumer expects more than just high-quality products; they demand an equally superior service experience. This behaviour shift for many companies is revealing a critical gap between expectation and reality.
Leading this change are AI platforms like OpenAI's ChatGPT and Google Bard, which are innovating and reshaping the customer service landscape. Large Language Models (LLMs), the foundation of ChatGPT and similar text-based generative AI tools, empower these applications to produce responses in text and voice that are strikingly human-like. They can focus more on complex inquiries.
Areas where Generative AI will have the most impact include:
1. Human Customer Service: By integrating AI to human agents, we can create a seamless transition towards a more optimised customer service system. With AI to handle simple and hygiene tasks like validating the consumer, building a small synopsis of this query, case generation, etc., human agents are free to focus on their core strengths or solving complex support challenges, leading to more productivity, cerebral work, and higher morale.
2. Better Customer Experience: By Enhancing Interaction Quality and Operational Efficiency AI can elevate efficiency and experience both. This is due to its ability to maintain context in conversations. AI can check for relevant customer information from a brand’s CRM, sales, and marketing records. This allows agents to seamlessly continue conversations from where they left off. With these customer interactions recorded across all channels, AI empowers agents and ensures that customers do not have to repeat their stories, thus enhancing their overall brand experience.
3. Making ChatBots Intelligent: AI-powered chatbots effectively handle routine queries and FAQs, directing them to appropriate self-service tools. This not only negates basic queries but also reduces the flow towards agents and allows human agents to focus their time on meaningful interactions. Furthermore, AI improves the efficiency of customer query handling by intelligently routing inquiries to the most suitable agent or team based on their skill set and current workload. This leads to more balanced case distribution among support teams.
A well-trained AI/ML-based bot can handle basic queries, and as conversations become more complex, human agents take over.
4. Revamping Email Support: With AI In the realm of customer service, handling the influx of emails efficiently is a challenge. AI tools are adept at scanning and categorising emails, ensuring they reach the right department swiftly for effective resolution. Additionally, AI can declutter inboxes by filtering out spam and promotional content, allowing agents to focus on essential customer queries.
5. Harnessing AI for Data Management and Predictive Analysis: AI's capability to process and intelligently manage vast volumes of customer data is transforming how businesses interact with their customers. It efficiently gathers and organises data from various touchpoints, centralising all information related to each customer's interactions. This allows businesses to be personalised. Also, AI's ability to analyse historical data helps agents predict behaviours.
6. Cost Efficiency: AI's sophisticated algorithms play a pivotal role in segregating and prioritising messages that require engagement, thereby conserving resources that would otherwise be spent on spam. This differentiation between actionable messages and irrelevant noise leads to significant cost savings.
Consumers are forcing a change in the way brands treat them. They purposefully move their conversations online, and they expect acceptable resolutions, a better experience, and speed with personalisation. If you're a CS leader, AI has to be your new best friend.
There’s a lot more to AI applications for customer service than what the surface shows.