I’d welcome you to the future, but in the modern digital world, robots do most of the welcoming.
Just take a look at the numbers:
- 2017 spending on artificial intelligence for businesses was estimated at more than $12.5 billion. Of that hefty sum, one of the largest investments was in automated customer service agents.
- More than 80% of sales and marketing leaders are either using or planning to use chatbots in the near future, according to a 2016 Oracle report. It’s a natural evolution for industries that already rely so heavily on technology.
- A 2017 survey of 35 AI executives further confirmed this trend, marking consumer-facing virtual agents and conversational chatbots as the number one area of AI growth over the next five years.
Mostly, it’s money.
A 2017 Salesforce press release projected that artificial intelligence (AI) powered CRM activities will add more than $1.1 to the global economy, along with 800,000 new jobs by 2021.
But behind the dollars, there’s a lot of practical sense too, backing the move to AI-based customer service with cold, hard logic.
Explore a few of the big benefits to using AI-supported customer service:
AI Levels Up Your Current Customer Service
Like any other technology, AI enhances what we’re capable of, making us smarter and faster while making our jobs easier.
Simple AI customer service increases productivity by freeing employees from simple or mundane tasks to focus on the creative and complex decision making that AI can’t do quite yet. For example, an automated phone system is now capable of figuring out who you are, what you want and where to send you before you ever speak to a live person.
AI sorting and routing of support requests via instant message and phone are extremely common today and much more covert than ever before. When this synchronized service is deployed via instant message, you may not even realize when you’re subtly passed to live representatives for complex questions or chatbots for simple ones. HubSpot Messages is a new platform for this type of support.
Not only does AI work alongside your human customer service team, it makes navigating complex requests that still need to be powered by real people easier.
Conversational AI can listen for cues in conversations and serve up the most likely and relevant answers to customer service agents before they even begin searching. By instantly serving the right content to your team, businesses can significantly reduce their overall customer service response and handling time.
AI Speeds Up Your Sales Cycle
Buyers don’t wake up in the morning wanting to buy something without a reason. It’s a process and it takes time.
As a sales professional, you want to help make that process as quick and straightforward as possible. After all, in this scenario, time literally is money.
At the beginning, AI accelerates the sales cycle by using simple information and contextual clues to identify and target leads based on their habits, preferences, location, nearly any factor you can think of.
Digital advertising and social media make this type of AI-powered targeting simple. Just tell the platforms exactly who you’re looking for. Is it Idaho moms that have recently purchased an SUV and and love walking for charity? Simple.
What would normally take market research firms a lifetime to track, AI does in an instant. By simply looking at the content we all post and share casually online, from photos to reviews to location-tracking, AI draws conclusions faster than people. One of the coolest facets of this is technology is when image recognition is used to identify products and brands in our photos. When used with social media and search engines, similar technology shows our connections to the people and places we are most familiar with, even the type of communication we prefer.
Once you’ve targeted leads, you can qualify and convert them by using AI to personalize the website content and digital marketing they see. Just use those leads to create individual buyer personas and create content based on each persona’s unique pain points. Now, you can feed that content to contextual marketing or smart content AI and deliver exactly the right message, to the right people, at the right time.
Time and intent-based marketing automation are two ways of using AI to automate content, like emails, to your leads. The former uses a schedule to send out each piece of the marketing campaign while the latter relies on the customer’s actions to trigger its actions, such as emails pushing products related to a recent purchase, or a set of web pages you recently visited.
Once your leads are nurtured enough to become customers, conversational AI can perfectly imitate a living, breathing sales rep on your website. It’ll answer questions, set meetings and even close deals for you, 24 hours a day.
You’ll look like the hardest working company on the block while you and your whole team was actually having a life after 5 p.m.
AI Makes Your Decisions Smarter with Data
On a large (read: gigantic, massive) scale, AI can understand data faster, devising insights from huge datasets easily be missed by people. This information can be used to back an endless array of smart, data-driven business decisions.
SEO has been leveraging data to improve the customer experience for years. Data is watched and weighed to forge paths for potential customers, as well as keep them on the right pages. And why not?
Why rely on instincts when math is so accessible?
AI can identify and track patterns, such as the number of customer inquiries for a particular product or service, increased call volume and social media buzz. All these features alert the right people to problems before they escalate.
AI Creates Happier Customers
AI in customer service isn’t really about saving money by eliminating the need for humans. It’s about spending and making money smarter, by using AI to better deliver the right message to the right people— at the right time.
Every company wants to deliver real-time responses, 24 hours per day, with seamless communication from website to sale. But that level of customer service comes with a premium price tag.
The cost-effective alternative is AI platforms, conversational programs that can integrate with a company’s existing website to supplement their existing customer services.
Drift, a conversational AI platform, is what we use here at Impulse Creative.
We’re a small team, spread along the East Coast, serving clients all over the country. Visitors to our site can set a meeting with any one of us in minutes, when it’s most convenient for them and when they’re ready to talk. In that way, Drift makes time zones and location irrelevant while serving us leads on a digital platter.
As a customer support tool, conversational AI platforms help to create a seamless customer experience. Whether you’re ultimately working with a bot or an agent, all of the information from your previous inquiries and orders is automatically retrieved in real time for important context, saving time and confusion. (Be honest, not having to repeat a 20+ digit tracking number is always nice.)
Internally, Drift allows us to save and share sales conversations with our whole team, attaching important notes for context. That helps us to deliver quick, cohesive responses to sales inquiries, no matter how busy we are with our current workload.
Quality control is another easy win with AI assistants and chatbots, driving a consistent, efficient customer experience without emotions. No matter how irate the customer may be, your AI customer service remains calm and unaffected by the situation.
The Bottom Line
As AI integration in the world of business picks up momentum, every business needs to take a hard look at how AI can improve their bottom line. The type of AI platform and tools you should invest in will depend on your business and goals, but no matter what you do, there’s already a way that AI can help you do it even better.
It’s time to welcome AI.