What do customers expect from AI customer service?

The customer is definitely always right about one thing, and that’s the kind of customer service they want and need. Interactive, simple, reliable and available is what customers want from customer service today. And for lots of businesses, AI customer service is already providing this for them. Essentially one of the main strengths of utilising artificial intelligence to provide customer service, through chatbots and the like, is that it alleviates many of the hiccups that can slow down the service businesses are able to offer customers. AI has the potential to satisfy both customers and businesses alike. Here are some of the ways artificial intelligence delivers what customers really want.  

AI customer service meets customers where they are

Let’s say your local council wanted to find out what issues are important to you, and you are an engaged community member who believes in making your voice heard. You’ve grown up in Wales and the language you’re most comfortable speaking is actually Welsh. You’re a busy person with a lot on your plate, but one evening scrolling through Facebook you see an advert from your local council inviting you to take part in a consultation about the future of your water supply. When you click the link to message the company, a friendly welcome message asks if you’d like to continue in Welsh or English. The conversation ensues in your mother tongue, and in the space of a few minutes you’ve taken part in the consultation and contributed to a vital conversation. It was an AI-powered chatbot that made it possible. We’re unsurprisingly quite proud we built the world’s first Welsh bilingual chatbot. Chatbots that live in Facebook Messenger have the luxury of being where customers are spending quite a lot of their time, Facebook boasted over 2.32 billion monthly active users as of December 2018. Why wouldn’t people want to be able to switch instantly between their favourite group chat and the friendly chatbot that’s telling them the right place to apply for a parking permit outside their new flat? AI customer service brings a more intuitive and unobtrusive experience that is in flow with modern life. Compare this with a customer needing to wait patiently on the phone, listening to nineties B-sides while the customer service team catches up with the demand.    

AI customer service is on demand

In today’s world, our Welsh friend and millions like him are used to life on-demand, and they expect rapid responses to their questions. They want to solve problems as quickly as they happen, and AI technology means that businesses can answer these questions 24 hours a day. Unless of course the question they’ve asked is a bit more nuanced and tricky. In that case their query can be assigned to a human to help them. AI chatbots can also respond to multiple queries at once, meaning that the queue for customer service agents becomes almost non-existent. We are often asked by clients to add a tiny delay to the response time to mimic a real-life customer service agent.   Rather than maintaining a robotic, unfriendly facade, ‘AI and natural language processing technology work together to “listen” to customer interactions in real time’. This means they are powered with tools to understand customer queries, and even the previously tedious process of filling in forms becomes much more fluid and conversational. AI customer service has the capacity to collect and interpret meaningful data about customers. And this means that businesses are able to use the conversational interactions the chatbot has with customers to improve their experience and the service they offer. A great alternative to laborious data entry taking up a lot of the time and effort of stretched customer service teams.    

AI can complement customer service teams, not replace them

Rather than sneaking their robot feet into the shoes of Jenny the customer service representative, AI and chatbots can actually shine Jenny’s shoes and make her job better. AI takes care of the simplest and more mundane questions a customer might have, the ones that don’t necessarily stretch Jenny’s capacity for creativity and problem-solving. As much as the team loves Jenny and wants her to stay in the team forever, chances are she’ll move to another team or organisation at some point. Employing AI as part of the customer service mix offers a level of stability and constancy that allows talented people to be more innovative and creative. If she’s more fulfilled, Jenny’s much more likely to stay longer too. She might even have a new career within the company as the person who trains the chatbot to answer questions.   IBM reports that ‘currently, in a 6 minute customer service call, 75% of that time is devoted to agents doing manual research, with valued customer interaction at a dismal 25%’. With the help of a chatbot to field the simpler and middling customer service queries, employees can have much more collaborative conversations with customers. AI customer service, rather than taking the human touch away from customer interactions, may actually enable customer service teams to be more human.