Article

Artificial intelligence (AI) and customer service: what it is, how to use it and its impact on the company

By Douglas da Silva

Published February 25, 2021
Last updated April 16, 2021

Scaling service and improving the customer experience are just two of the benefits of applying artificial intelligence to customer service

The truth is that integrating AI into customer service offers clear advantages to the customers, who receive immediate, high-quality support 24/7 via channels that they are familiar with, such as WhatsApp.

This is without taking into account the various gains that the companies experience, such as increasing customer service capacity at less cost and more efficiently, without depending on human agents to resolve minor customer issues. 

Customer service data does not lie and shows that customers’ priorities extend well beyond the price of a service or product. The reality is that 61% of consumers say that good service is more important than the price or quality of a product. That is why 72% of companies say that improving the customer experience is their top priority.

And what about your business? How much importance do you place of improving the customer experience in your company? 

A path towards improving the customer experience

“But will using robots to deal with my customers improve the service? And what if my customers don’t like this type of interaction?” 

This is a common question from companies which have yet to use AI in their customer service. 

Without doubt, you need to know your company’s customer profiles before implementing any new strategy, but it is worth saying that 35% of people prefer an instant reply from a bot to waiting for a human agent to respond. 

Another point is that chat is Generation Y’s preferred support channel (people born between 1981 and 1996) and 86% of B2B executives prefer to use self-service tools rather than speaking to a sales rep.

It is also important to look at the market and understand the behaviour of other companies when it comes to this technology. The reality is that the number of companies planning to offer an AI chatbot to their customers has increased by 120%

Putting this information together shows us that avoiding using AI in customer service for fear of giving the customer a bad experience could be exactly what will damage the relationship between the customer and the company. 

It cannot be denied that even among those companies which are slow to introduce AI to their customer service, customers want an immediate response to their request. They do not want to be left waiting on the telephone by a customer service agent, and are even less keen to wait for an email reply. 

We live in an era when immediacy is king, and this is more evident than ever in the relationship between a company and its customers. 

How AI in customer service works

Now that we understand the role of AI in customer service, let’s move on to understanding how it works in practice. 

Here, it is interesting to note that AI is a branch of computer science that develops technologies that copy human beings’ ability to reason and make decisions. This is all done using software such as the chatbot.

An artificial intelligence chatbot is software that can be integrated with communications systems such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, your webchat app and more. Through these channels, the AI chatbot can:

  • Receive customer information, 
  • Apply reasoning to it, 
  • Find the best answer, 
  • Process data, 
  • Make decisions, 
  • Provide an answer, 
  • Learn from every customer interaction. 

All this also applies to a human customer service agent, who receives a support request from the customer, thinks about the best way to deal with it, assesses the options, decides what to say to the customer, learns from each contact, and moves on to other requests. 

This is why a chatbot with AI can be used in customer service, integrated into a system such as WhatsApp, for instance, and offering intelligent support through that channel. 

Artificial intelligence is an area which aims to develop machines with cognitive ability, or rather, with the ability to reason, think, make decisions and learn. 

All this technology allows machines to carry out complex tasks such as customer service

To sum up, AI in customer service works through chatbot software (service bots) integrated into the message platform. Examples of AI include bots on WhatsApp and site chats. 

These bots have cognitive ability and are able to understand the customer, choose a good answer and learn from each interaction. 

For all this to happen, a number of technologies are used to build an AI system to support customer service, including:

  • Simulating the human thought process, 
  • Machine learning
  • Data mining,
  • Natural language processing, and more. 

Do you want to find out more about how chatbots work in practice? Watch the video below. 

The contribution of artificial intelligence to customer service

Now that you know how a chatbot uses AI, it is important to know the benefits of AI for customer service and resolve any doubts you may have about introducing this kind of system to your company. Some of the advantages are:  

  • Scaling customer service: when you only use human customer service agents and the capacity of the service is related to the size of the team, if you want to handle more customers, you need to increase the size of the team, making growth more expensive and restricted.
  • It is better to give support on the channels which the customers are already using: examples of AI include the WhatsApp bot or the Facebook Messenger app bot, or even SMS messages, which mean that you enable the customer to resolve an issue without needing to move to another channel, such as email or using the company’s website.
  • Immediate support 24/7: no-one likes to wait and your customers like it even less. Many requests arise outside normal business hours and a chatbot with AI can respond to the customer without delay
  • A bot can handle multiple customers at once, while a human agent can only deal with one customer at a time.
  • High-quality omnichannel service at low cost: you can be present on all your customer service channels and provide the same experience on all of them using the AI customer service system.
  • No more waiting for customer service: you can give your customer the good news: no more waiting for the phone to be answered or in the queue for support on the webchat service.
  • Improving the customer experience: we can offer you all the benefits listed above! A better experience, greater customer loyalty, more business and bigger profits.
  • Frees up time for your customer service team to focus on more strategic activities or the more complex support tickets,
  • Data integration: for a better overview of customer requirements and needs to support the creation of strategic solutions – and more.

AI chatbots: where to start?

Many people are still suspicious of the words “artificial intelligence”, and many businesses still believe that the technology is far removed from their normal business operations. However, the truth is that contracting an AI chatbot service is very easy. 

For example, Zendesk offers solutions that enable you to connect and add a bot to your company’s communications channels, optimise the work of your team and create better customer experiences

As well as speaking to consumers in real time, the AI chatbot produces reports on your team’s performance and customer satisfaction levels.
Want to try out an AI chatbot and see the results it can bring to your company? Find out more about Zendesk’s Chatbot and ask for a free demo. 

Customer service software

Zendesk Support is customer service software to monitor and resolve support tickets more quickly and efficiently.