Customer service has evolved considerably over the years, transitioning from a simple human-to-human interaction to a tech-driven engagement process. One technology that has recently garnered substantial attention is Artificial Intelligence (AI). According to a Salesforce study, the share of service decision-makers who report using AI has increased by 88% since 2020, growing from 24% of respondents to 45%. This surge underscores the pivotal role AI is playing in reshaping the customer service landscape.
So, why is the industry shifting towards AI automation for customer service? What are the different ways customer service can be automated? In this comprehensive article, we will explore the ins and outs of automating customer service with AI.
How Do You Automate Customer Service?
Automating customer service involves utilizing software and technology to handle tasks that are typically managed by human customer service agents. From answering frequently asked questions to processing refunds, the range of tasks that can be automated is vast. The objective is to handle routine tasks efficiently so that human agents can focus on complex issues requiring emotional intelligence and nuanced understanding.
Automation can take many forms, including but not limited to:
- AI-powered chatbots for real-time customer interaction
- Automated email responses for common queries
- Knowledge bases that empower customers to find answers independently
The crux of automating customer service lies in integrating these solutions in a seamless manner, thereby providing an enriching customer experience.
Why is Automation Important in Customer Service?
The importance of automation in customer service can’t be overstated. With the digital transformation that companies are undergoing, expectations for quick and effective customer service are higher than ever.
Here’s a telling fact: 65% of the top-performing service organizations use automation, as compared to only 41% of underperformers. Automation offers multiple advantages:
Automated systems are fast, reducing the time it takes to resolve issues. They can handle multiple queries simultaneously, something human agents can’t do.
As your business grows, so does the customer base and the volume of service queries. Automation enables your service infrastructure to scale without proportionally increasing costs.
Automation ensures that customers receive round-the-clock service, thereby improving customer satisfaction and brand reputation.
Automation cuts down the costs associated with hiring and training human agents, thus increasing ROI.
The Types of Automated Customer Service
In the landscape of automated customer service, three prominent types stand out—AI chatbots, automated email solutions, and knowledge bases. Each of these offers unique advantages and plays a critical role in automating your customer service operations. Let’s delve into the specifics.
AI Chatbots: Your Website’s Virtual Concierge
When integrated directly into your website, AI chatbots become a powerhouse for managing a variety of tasks. Trained rigorously on your company’s knowledge base, they can guide users through intricate purchase processes, resolve common queries, and even offer technical support—all in real-time. The best part? A whopping 74% of website users actually prefer interacting with chatbots for quick, straightforward answers. This not only streamlines your customer service but also vastly improves user experience on your site.
Connected to Messaging Services
But why stop at your website? With advanced API or native integrations, these chatbots can extend their functionality to popular messaging platforms like Messenger, WhatsApp, and Slack. This multi-platform approach significantly broadens your customer service outreach, offering the convenience that today’s users not only appreciate but also expect.
Automated email solutions are far from being merely reactionary; they’re proactive tools designed to manage your customer service efficiently. By sorting incoming emails based on their subject lines or content, these systems can channel emails to appropriate departments or personnel.
And for common queries? Auto-responses handle them like a pro, freeing up human agents for more complex tasks. Let’s not forget the cherry on top: These AI-driven systems can flag emails requiring immediate human attention, ensuring that critical issues don’t get lost in the shuffle. I’ve previously outlined how to build an AI autoresponder for emails; it’s easier than you think!
Knowledge Base: The Self-Serve Information Hub
A meticulously curated and well-organized knowledge base is often the unsung hero in the realm of automated customer service. Designed for ease of navigation, this comprehensive resource empowers customers to find answers to their questions autonomously. Featuring FAQs, user guides, video tutorials, and more, a robust knowledge base not only enhances customer satisfaction but also serves as an invaluable training resource for AI chatbots.
How to Automate Customer Service: A Deep Dive
Determine Your Needs
Before you even think about implementing an automated system, you need a clear understanding of your unique business needs.
- Identify Pain Points: Start by identifying bottlenecks or gaps in your current customer service workflow. Are customers frequently complaining about long wait times? Are there issues that could be resolved with automated FAQs?
- Analyze Customer Queries: Dive into the data. Assess previous customer service interactions to identify common queries, issues, or roadblocks.
- Resource Allocation: Make a realistic assessment of your current human resources. Are your human agents underutilized or overwhelmed? This will help you decide which tasks should be automated.
- Stakeholder Input: Consult different departments (Sales, Marketing, Technical Support, etc.) to collect feedback on what an ideal automated service should offer.
Tools & Resources:
- Use data analytics tools to assess customer interactions.
- Internal survey tools can be employed to gather employee feedback.
Build a Knowledge Base
Your knowledge base isn’t just a repository of answers; it’s the foundation upon which you can build an effective AI system.
- Content Curation: Populate your knowledge base with relevant and accurate content. This can include text articles, video tutorials, and step-by-step guides.
- Usability: Ensure the knowledge base is user-friendly. Employ a robust search function, intuitive categories, and a clean design.
- SEO Optimization: Make your knowledge base searchable not just within your website, but also via search engines. This increases the chances of users finding answers without even needing to contact you.
- Ongoing Maintenance: Assign a team or individual responsible for continuously updating the knowledge base.
Tools & Resources:
- Platforms like Notion can help in creating and maintaining a rich knowledge base. Here’s a free Notion knowledge base template.
Create an AI Chatbot
Building or integrating an AI chatbot involves several steps:
- Natural Language Processing (NLP): Opt for a chatbot that uses NLP to understand the context and nuances in human language.
- Choose an AI chatbot: Setting up with Lexy is both quick and effortless, and according to user surveys, it consistently outperforms competitors in delivering superior results.
- Training: Use your pre-existing knowledge base in Notion to train Lexy. The more data you have, the smarter your chatbot will be.
- Multi-Platform Integration: Your chatbot should be versatile enough to be integrated into various platforms like your website, Messenger, or WhatsApp.
- Pilot Testing: Before going live, run a series of tests on previous support queries to iron out kinks.
Create an AI Email Solution
An AI-driven email solution can be a game-changer.
- Consult the Comprehensive Guide: For an in-depth walkthrough, consult the complete Zapier and Lexy API integration guide to set up your email automation effectively.
- Set Up a Zapier Workflow: Begin by creating a Zapier automation workflow that integrates your chosen email provider with Lexy.
- Integrate with Lexy’s API: Configure Zapier to connect with Lexy’s API, ensuring that incoming emails automatically trigger responses from Lexy’s intelligent AI responder.
- Organize Customer Emails: Utilize labels or tags within your email provider to effectively filter and categorize customer emails, making it easier for your AI solution to respond appropriately.
- Implement Follow-Up Automation: To close the loop, employ automated follow-ups that ensure all customer queries have been addressed to satisfaction. This not only enhances your customer service but also provides a system for continuous improvement.
Tools & Resources:
- Platforms like Zapier and Lexy offer AI-powered email auto responders that can are perfect for customer service.
Create a Ticketing System
For those issues that require a human touch:
- Ticket Generation: Any issue that can’t be resolved by the automated system should automatically generate a ticket.
- Ticket Assignment: Use AI algorithms to assign the ticket to the most appropriate human agent based on their expertise.
- Status Updates: Automated updates on ticket status keep the customer informed, improving their overall experience.
- Post-Solution Feedback: Once the ticket is resolved, use automated systems to gather feedback for continual improvement.
Tools & Resources:
Update the Knowledge Base
As your automated systems evolve, your knowledge base should too. Make it a practice to periodically update the knowledge base with new information, especially those extracted from resolved customer service queries and tickets.
Tools & Resources:
- A combination of web scraping tools and AI algorithms can automatically update your knowledge base based on common new queries and solutions.
Deeply integrating AI into your customer service operations isn’t just about adopting new technology; it’s about strategically reimagining how you engage with customers. By determining your needs, building a comprehensive knowledge base, adopting AI chatbots and email solutions, and refining your approach through continual updates, you can provide a customer service experience that is not just efficient, but also deeply personalized. Welcome to the future of customer service.