Artificial Intelligence in Customer Service: The Ultimate Guide
This article is part of a larger series on Customer Service.
Artificial intelligence (AI) in customer service provides businesses with workflow automation and intelligent tools to streamline and expedite customer outreach. AI tools, such as chatbots, data enrichment, and intelligent routing, enable customer service teams to speed up case resolutions and personalize service supported by data insights. This article explains how AI can effectively improve customer service experience and operations, along with examples of its usage.
Why AI in Customer Service Operations Is Essential
AI customer service tools provide swift, human-like assistance to customers—decreasing the time agents spend interacting with customers, especially for simple queries. It also helps businesses provide smarter, more personalized service to customers by analyzing relevant data in their profiles. Agents can utilize this data when speaking to customers and resolving their concerns.
Today’s customers demand fast, efficient customer support, with some expecting real-time responses or immediate resolutions to their queries. However, there are instances when this is not possible—especially for small businesses with tight budgets and limited human resources. This is where artificial intelligence in customer service comes into play.
Pro tip: Follow our step-by-step instructions and download our free template for creating customer profiles to build a profile for each of your company’s ideal buyer types.
How Artificial Intelligence in Customer Service Works
Artificial intelligence in customer service works by integrating tools in customer service software that mimic human intelligence or behavior, reducing the need for actual human interaction. Ultimately, its goal is to automate customer service processes and produce instant results—versus waiting for longer turnaround times.
AI for customer service also employs machine learning (ML) techniques. These encompass the interpretation and analysis of data to provide teams with actionable insights, accurate predictions, and data-driven recommendations. Combining these allows customer service teams to give their customers highly personalized and tailored services and solutions. It also boosts overall agent productivity by accommodating more customers quickly.
Natural Language Processing vs Machine Learning
Machine learning (ML) is the technology that makes it possible for an AI program to learn and improve its capabilities based on its experience. Natural Language Processing (NLP), on the other hand, is a branch of consumer AI that utilizes machine learning algorithms to enable computers to process and understand natural human language. It ties up artificial intelligence and customer service.
Freshchat, by Freshworks, is an example of live chat software that uses AI-powered chatbots to simplify the customer and user experiences. It also provides you with a unified platform for all your messaging channels, including WhatsApp, LINE, and Facebook Messenger. This platform offers a free plan for up to 100 agents and paid plans that start at $15 per agent, per month, billed annually. You may sign up for a 21-day free trial before committing to a subscription.
Advantages of AI in Customer Service
AI for customer service unloads many of your customer representatives’ tasks, lessens the time needed to resolve cases, and operates around the clock. Below are some ways in which AI can improve customer experience. The list also includes clear benefits businesses experience when using AI in their customer service activities.
AI customer service technology significantly decreases human interaction, especially for simple, frequently asked questions bots can answer. This allows agents to focus on more important and complicated queries. For example, simple questions about business opening hours or basic product information can be provided by chatbots, while more complex concerns like requests for product returns or refunds can be handled by agents.
AI tools, specifically chatbots, help hasten case resolutions. They dramatically reduce customers’ waiting time for simple and routine queries that can be answered without human assistance. Tools like response suggestions also provide agents with ready-made answers they can easily feed into chatboxes, eliminating the need for agents to find answers on their own.
Apart from expediting responses, chatbots also work 24/7, so customers’ queries are always attended to. If they are unable to answer questions, a customer service chatbot can request contact information. These include emails and mobile numbers agents use to reach out to customers during business hours.
Who Benefits Most From Using AI in Customer Service?
The primary purpose of AI in customer service is to prevent customer service agents from doing manual, repetitive, and routine tasks through automated tools and data analytics. Below are members of your team who can benefit the most from using AI in customer service.
Users running small businesses without a dedicated customer service team can rely on simple AI customer service tools, such as chatbots, to handle simple queries. Contrary to what business owners might expect, AI tools aren’t necessarily expensive. Some providers, such as Freshchat, offer chatbots in their free plan and offer paid plans for as low as $15 per user, per month.
Agents tasked with taking and managing customer service calls and queries benefit from AI tools, specifically customer profile analysis and suggested responses. These tools help agents pull customer intelligence and data in real time to provide better solutions based on the customer’s profile and history. Tools like suggested responses also eliminate the need for them to manually find information for not-so-common questions.
Customer service managers benefit from AI tools, particularly customer sentiment measurement tools. They get an overview of the individual performance of their customer service representatives and the overall sentiment and satisfaction rate of customers. These tools help contribute to improving general customer service operations.
While AI technically removes the human element in customer service, new technologies are constantly being developed to mimic human interactions accurately. These technologies offer a more personalized customer service approach. Freshchat, an AI-powered messaging platform, is an example of this technology. Learn about other AI technologies for customer service in the next section.
Examples of AI in Customer Service
AI is the solution for your customers’ demand for low-touch, fast, and up-to-date service. Now that we’ve explored the importance and benefits of AI for customer service, let’s dive into some real-world applications. Below are several examples of AI in customer service and how they can help you improve the overall support you provide to clients.
Chatbots, or “chat robots,” automate and simulate human conversations through an embedded chatbox on a user’s website. Chatbots are programmed to answer frequently asked questions (FAQs) to save customer service representatives from answering simple questions. Chatbots also capture customer queries and email addresses around-the-clock, so an actual agent can reach out to them once available.
Freshchat offers an AI-powered messaging system for sales and customer engagement teams. Through its no-code builder, you can design a chatbot that can answer FAQs and execute actions based on triggers. You can set up workflows to guide your customers through a step-by-step troubleshooting process to resolve their issues. This saves customer service reps from answering simple questions chatbots can easily manage and resolve.
Conversational AI is a term used to describe support technologies like virtual assistants or chatbots that can “talk” or interact with people. It is an effective way to streamline the process of answering FAQs and routing customer inquiries to the right agent or department. You can often find this on websites, ecommerce stores, and social media channels.
HappyFox Chatbot has enhanced messaging functionalities that mimic human conversations. It uses NLP and ML to understand and learn from customer interactions and to improve with continuous feedback and training. It communicates with customers and provides them with answers using a combination of content that include quick replies and knowledge base articles.
Want to see why HappyFox is one of the most popular customer service software solutions for small businesses? Check out our in-depth HappyFox review for more information on features, pricing, and overall usability.
AI assistants help save customer service agents’ time by enabling them to request any information or provide instructions using voice commands. This lessens the need for them to manually scour their customer relationship management (CRM) system for information they need or do simple tasks, such as finding a contact, pulling up customer service data, or checking the status of a case.
Zoho CRM’s predictive AI assistant, Zia, offers users conversational AI that helps them perform and complete their tasks faster and more efficiently. Zia is capable of helping customer service reps with tasks like creating new contacts, adding call notes, or finding information about customers.
To learn how this CRM meets the needs of many small businesses, read our comprehensive Zoho CRM review.
AI helps free up support agents by allowing customers to consult chatbots, automatically answering their questions or concerns anytime. You can embed this tool into your help desk software so it can learn from your historical data to serve your customers 24/7. It gets answers from data from past tickets, your internal company knowledge base, customer-facing knowledge base, and agent notes.
Zoho Desk features an AI assistant called Zia that helps agents improve their productivity by providing pertinent data and smart suggestions. It searches through activity histories to identify patterns and suggest workflows. It also analyzes sales patterns to recommend products for cross-selling and parse email signatures to fill in information about your leads. Moreover, reps can chat with Zia to dictate notes or update records.
Head over to our Zoho Desk review to learn if it is the right customer service platform for your support team.
AI is capable of analyzing customer sentiments based on the reviews or feedback customers leave after purchasing a product or service or experiencing after-sales support from a business. Through AI, businesses can gauge the average satisfaction rate of their customers in different areas, such as response times, agents’ level of helpfulness, and overall satisfaction level.
HubSpot Service Hub has a customer feedback tool that can analyze qualitative survey responses and evaluate them for positive or negative intent. It uses NPS (net promoter score) surveys to determine whether a customer’s review was good or bad and segments them based on sentiment. Customer service managers can view the results through a dashboard that provides a general overview of customer satisfaction.
Read our HubSpot Service Hub review to find out what it does best and how it helps customer support teams and small businesses achieve their goals.
Net Promoter Score, or NPS, is a customer satisfaction benchmark that determines the likelihood of your customers to recommend your business to a friend. Learn more about how to calculate and measure your NPS scores in our comprehensive article about how to measure customer service satisfaction.
AI can help you automate your ticket creation process by allowing your customers to send questions using a chatbot widget embedded into your website. The AI-powered chatbot then creates tickets for questions that cannot be answered automatically or require a live agent. This helps customers get in touch with support while reducing the workload of your agents.
Zendesk features an Answer Bot that automatically collects customer information, such as their name, email address, and type of issue. These data are then mapped into ticket fields for automatic ticket creation. This helps your agent reduce the time spent on repetitive tasks, like the manual creation of tickets.
To learn more about this customer service software, read our Zendesk review to explore its rich feature set.
While many support teams still route their tickets manually, you can automate this process to eliminate the bottleneck of tickets. Use AI technology and ML to automatically route tickets based on previous examples. This way, the program automatically tags or sorts incoming tickets by topic, language, sentiment, and urgency and then assigns them to team members most qualified to handle them.
There are customer service platforms like HubSpot Service Hub that support automated ticket routing features. This allows you to automatically assign incoming tickets to agents or move them between pipelines based on category. Again, this saves time because agents no longer have to manually send tickets to the right agent or department, as the system does it for them.
AI tools help support agents automate email responses with the help of both NLP and ML. When agents receive customer inquiries, they can access a widget embedded into their help desk software. AI tools help agents surface the correct answer to the customer’s question based on stored data and previous examples, and the information is displayed on the widget.
Freshdesk features a smart assistant called Freddy AI that offers suggested email responses based on the ticket text. Agents can either use the recommendation or select another predefined email template to respond faster to customers’ queries. With this, agents no longer have to repeatedly type the same set of responses to multiple customers.
AI helps customer service teams analyze customer profiles and qualify leads based on their past actions. It uses collected customer relationship management (CRM) data to provide users with AI-backed insights and recommendations—helping them give a more personalized approach when offering solutions to their clients.
Salesforce’s AI tool, Einstein, provides comprehensive and up-to-date profiles of customers based on information and data saved in the CRM. It analyzes historical data, including past issues and previous purchases, to provide the next best actions or suggested resolutions based on their queries.
Read our in-depth Salesforce review to learn more about how this platform helps small businesses grow.
AI bots can understand the flow of chat conversations and suggest common or predetermined responses to agents when chatting with customers. This helps speed up resolutions and standardize customer experience. Bots can present answers based on FAQs or an existing knowledge base without requiring agents to dig up the information themselves.
LiveChat’s chatbot function integrates with business websites or social media messengers, such as Facebook, and provides canned or suggested responses for agents. Suggested responses minimize the need for agents to manually type responses or look for answers they may not have readily available responses for.
AI in customer service can help save on costs and alleviate the workload of customer service teams by enriching customer data and providing smart suggestions and answers to queries. AI for customer experience can benefit both business owners with a limited workforce and established businesses that handle large volumes of customer queries. AI tools like Freshchat help you provide more efficient and personalized service to your customers.
Get started with Freshchat for free, or sign up for its 21-day free trial before committing to a subscription.