When people think of AI, good customer service may not be the first thing that pops to mind. Most people are going to jump to robots that lack empathy and simply respond to queries based on their programming.
But today, AI is more Rosie the Robot. It’s here to help find answers and support customer service and sales teams. AI can provide instant insights that would take a person years or even a lifetime of experience to generate. Businesses that provide their customers with highly personalized experiences can benefit from increased sales and better ROI on marketing spend. Artificial intelligence used in this way can boost revenue by 58% while increasing engagement by 54%.
Here’s how AI is shaping the future of customer service:
Better personalization and better offers
We produce an ocean of data as we surf the Internet. Every time we visit a website, use an app, or interact with a company on social media, we leave behind bits of information that indicate our preferences or buying habits. It can sound a little unsettling to think we’re leaving all that information behind, but, done correctly, that information can be useful in producing highly personalized offers to customers while protecting their privacy.
AI is reaching the point where it no longer just recommends scary movies because you watched a couple of horror flicks a few years ago. It’s capable of analyzing larger, more complex datasets to create intuitive and useful experiences. This matters now more than ever as customer expectations are at an all-time high.
Say an online shopper has been browsing through a specific set of products. If they’ve made prior purchases from a particular merchant, then the merchant can notify the shopper when those products go on sale. Or better yet, predict related needs for that specific shopper before they even come up. In addition, the simple fact that the shopper is online doesn’t exclude offline conditions from making an impact on their purchasing. Advanced AI systems can now take into account external factors such as weather or economic conditions to hyper-personalize the online shopper’s experience.
Organizations are beginning to pay attention to customer sentiments too by analyzing customer support tickets and social media. Here, words really do matter and properly assessing customer experiences can be the difference between brand loyalty and brand fatigue. By anticipating brand fatigue and finding ways to avoid customer churn, businesses can improve profitability. “It is 6-7X more expensive for companies to attract new customers than to keep existing customers.”
The best part of all this is that AI can create these personalized experiences faster and faster. AI dramatically improves the way information is processed and thus an invaluable ally in delivering personalization. With proper implementation, personalization can even manifest in real-time, with a targeted message to the right customer at the right moment.
It’s a global market. Businesses are no longer stuck selling to people who live nearby. As a result, being able to provide a local experience on a global scale is something that matters to customers.
Providing customers with an experience that reflects their reality gives them a feeling of inclusivity. With localization, it’s sometimes the small things that make the difference. For example, AI and machine learning can help companies move beyond basic language translation to include actual localized content from a variety of sources.
Although true localization relies heavily on human-centric effort, AI can help deliver data-driven recommendations that can highlight differences in local behavior and culture. Everything from language patterns to naming conventions to local holidays can impact the customer’s experience with a company. Providing that localized experience can make customers feel right at home, regardless of where home is.
Provide answers faster
Eventually, everybody has questions when they engage with a business. It could be about a specific product feature or how something should be repaired. Regardless of the question, no one likes waiting around for an answer. Not at a physical location and definitely not online.
It wasn’t that long ago that emails and Polaroids felt instant. These days, instant has a whole new meaning when mere seconds can mean the difference between a happy customer and a negative review. Some things can still take time, but when it comes to customer service, customers are 7 times more likely to buy from a company that gets back to them within an hour. What is surprising is that 24% of companies take longer than 24 hours to respond and 23% never respond at all. Chatbots can help fill that gap by providing automated responses as soon as a question has been asked.
Successful implementation of AI-powered technologies such as chatbots can help reduce the customer query response time even further by providing answers in real-time, around the clock. Faster answers lead to happier customers.
Getting the best of both worlds
We’re just starting to experience how AI is changing the way we engage with our favorite brands, online and offline. Businesses across industries, from retailers to banks, airlines, and entertainment companies have all begun investing in AI technologies to improve customer service. When it comes to customer experience, the true promise of AI is not to replace the human element but rather augment it with better insights and recommendations in less time.
For a closer look at how companies are using AI for the many aspects of customer engagement, be sure to read our previous blog, “AI and the 5-star customer experience.”