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How AI customer
service can help
enable better
interactions

Author: Rose de Fremery

Customer service is one of the most crucial aspects of the customer experience. Organizations must consistently deliver satisfying customer service if they hope to earn continued customer loyalty and win new customers, but they may struggle to achieve this goal at the scale and speed required.

That's where artificial intelligence (AI) comes in. AI customer service technologies can help organizations create the capabilities and agility required to provide positive service experiences, pitch-perfect service every time. Yet, according to Zendesk's Customer Experience Trends Report 2021, AI remains an underutilized tool despite its adoption among larger firms. Here's how artificial intelligence customer service enables better interactions, improves satisfaction and contributes to a high-quality customer experience.

How artificial intelligence customer service raises the standard

AI is helping organizations raise their standard of customer service by improving customer interactions and enhancing customer service processes behind the scenes. Chatbots are the first AI-enabled technology that many people associate with customer service—and with good reason. They represent an essential initial touchpoint, in some cases providing 24/7 self-service capabilities to customers on a multitude of channels including messaging apps, SMS messaging and live website chat apps.

Because artificial intelligence customer service chatbots are well-suited to handle simple queries, such as a request for product information or a status update regarding an order, they can give customers satisfying service on demand—even while human agents are fast asleep. And since these digital helpers are always available on the channels customers find most convenient and familiar, they eliminate the burden of having to make a lengthy phone call just to get an answer to a basic question. This omnipresent, omnichannel availability meets busy customers' needs, allowing them to get quick service and then get on with their day.

AI customer service chatbots can also simultaneously assist multiple customers, making long hold times over the phone unnecessary. This way, customers feel like they are receiving prompt, individualized service instead of waiting at the back of the line. In the event that chatbots cannot address a particular issue or question on their own, these AI customer service agents can use intelligent routing to escalate it to an experienced human agent—with crucial contextual information included—for rapid resolution.

How AI customer service can help teams improve satisfaction

Artificial intelligence customer service assistants can also help their human counterparts deliver better interactions when they do engage with customers. For example, AI and customer service bot assistants can use natural language processing to help chatbots better understand the intent behind a customer's question or concern and then serve up accurate answers or relevant information that allow the agent to quickly respond. With this timely AI help, the customer service agent is still able to bring a pleasant human touch to the interaction while resolving the customer's issue in less time than they otherwise could.

This AI-powered customer engagement helps human agents resolve customer queries more quickly and empowers customer service teams to improve the consistency of the services they offer. AI technology also allows agents to deliver personalized care by offering each customer personalized suggestions for a related product or service they might find appealing or useful. Not only does this individualized service make customers feel valued and understood, but it also creates the trust necessary to enable more effective upsells at the right moment.

AI technology can even make the dreaded customer service phone call a thing of the past. Rather than forcing frustrated customers to navigate labyrinthine phone menus in search of a human who they hope will be more helpful, AI-powered interactive voice response (IVR) can identify customers as they call in, anticipate their needs and let them interact with the system more naturally using their own words. With effective voice self-help options through AI customer service, customers can get answers without getting lost in an unresponsive phone tree or enduring lengthy hold times.

Improve your customer service with AI

Organizations are looking for ways to improve their customer service, and artificial intelligence customer service gives them several options for doing just that. Not only can AI customer service chatbots provide instant, helpful responses on all the channels customers find most convenient and easy to use, but they can help human agents deliver accurate answers more quickly and provide the crucial personal touch that wins customer trust and results in upselling opportunities.

AI customer service can even enhance the quality of the interaction when the customer finds it necessary to use a traditional support channel like a customer support line, letting them get the answers they need using natural language without having to escalate the call to an overburdened human agent. This represents a win-win for customers and organizations alike, surprising customers with a useful voice experience while reducing the volume of incoming calls.

At a high level, AI can allow organizations to ensure that the service they offer is rapid, relevant and consistent regardless of whether customers are interacting with a chatbot or a fellow human. With these strategic capabilities in hand, organizations have increased opportunities for creating an exceptional customer experience that both keeps loyal customers and earns new ones.

Explore how Verizon's customer engagement and experience services increase customer satisfaction.

The author of this content is a paid contributor for Verizon.