I just ordered a pizza for dinner with a few taps on my phone, and the delivery driver should be here anytime. It’s amazing how we are automating nearly everything around us, empowering end-users to achieve a wide range of tasks with minimum effort.
New Horizons for Customer Service
The customer service industry has joined this race to provide a smart and expedient customer experience at any point of the buyer journey. It’s no wonder. Evolving technologies like Machine Learning (ML) applications, chatbots and messaging platforms will have a significant impact on customer interactions in the upcoming years.
According to Gartner, “By 2020, 85% of customer interactions will be managed without human intervention.” One prime example is automated customer service chatbots or virtual agents, powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI).
More than any other internal business process, customer service interacts with your consumers along the buying journey. In general, a journey includes all the steps a customer takes when trying to purchase a product or service. (Learn more here about customer journeys.) These journeys can be comparatively straightforward or complicated, ranging from a short interaction between the consumer and service provider to a challenging, everchanging and ongoing process - especially when it comes to indirect sales channels.
To improve this experience, it’s critical to know the background of your customers and driving factors behind their purchase decisions - whether that means selecting a product, service or subscription. In fact, according to marketers, better customer journey visibility would boost their marketing return on investment (ROI) by a staggering 70%.
Insights Through Machine Learning
Machine Learning (ML) is transforming the way teams should approach these actions. With the help of some ML-enabled tools, the most tedious and repetitive tasks can be automated. But more importantly, better insights (patterns in customer demographics, social sentiment, purchase habits, etc.) can be congregated to improve the customer journey.
For instance, with the aid of Sales Navigator and based on your sales preferences (and several other factors), you can identify new prospects. You can even predict the best possible next steps with Salesforce’s AI-enabled platform Einstein, which is now leading the way with proactive suggestions to move agreements forward.
Chatbots = More Speed, Lower Costs
Chatbots can be central in shaping customer journeys, overcoming challenges and delivering great benefits. With the advancement of Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools, chatbots are now capable of understanding and responding to customer queries just like any well-trained agent. Interestingly, in most cases, these chatbots can find solutions to problems by processing a huge amount of data and actualize service requests far faster than humans can.
A recent Zendesk study reveals that consumers paralleled quick problem resolution to good customer service experience. As Jay Baer wisely pointed out, “Great customer experience happens when you exceed customer expectations.” Also, automation of customer service platforms saves huge time and costs, since these services (like Watson) only require one-time training.
4 More Benefits of Automated Customer Service
Some other benefits of automated customer service include:
1. Quick Response Time
Speed is critical when it comes to customer service. In fact, 25% of millennials expect to get a response within 10 minutes after reaching out for a service via social platform. Compared to applications, chatbots are 35% better at responding quickly to complex questions, according to the recent State of Chatbots 2018 research (conducted jointly by Drift, MyClever, Salesforce and SurveyMonkey). It’s not surprising when Gartner says, “Phone-based communication will drop from 41% to 12%.”
2. Personalized Interactions
AI can convert the process of making creative decisions from long and painstaking to nearly instantaneous. Organizations these days are utilizing AI and ML with customer data to deliver an unparalleled level of personalization throughout the customer journey. Personalized customer service interactions promote fulfillment and improve purchase conversions. Case in point: Coca-Cola’s millennial-minded “Share a Coke” campaign (featuring individual’s names on its bottles) boosted product consumption by a whopping 200 million bottles per day.
3. Proactive Solutions
AI and ML-embedded systems can screen through a nearly immeasurable amount of data (including website access patterns, in-app activities, etc.) to identify issues in the customer journey. These systems are capable of real-time response and offer support through FAQ sections or virtual agents across devices and platforms. The ability to resolve issues before they occur could significantly improve customer satisfaction while simultaneously reducing customer complaints.
4. Scalable Service
AI-driven automation gives businesses the power to scale customer service with an unprecedented swiftness. Upon launching a new product, brands can release interactive FAQs, which can resolve thousands of customer queries without the need for human interaction. Chatbots also empower businesses to act instantaneously on customer inquiries. When transitioning to new geographic locations, brands can avoid the hassle of employing and training staff who speak the local language - thanks to a combined effort of ML, NLP and chatbots.
What It All Means for B2B
You might be wondering how these AI applications can be integrated to shape customer experiences for B2B businesses. AI-enabled tools can enhance productivity and customer experience through the automation of consumer-oriented tasks. Again, one great example is Salesforce Einstein, which leverages ML algorithms to analyze customer conversations and then alert managers in real-time.
In a nutshell, from chatbots to automation, AI and ML help brands learn more about their consumers to personalize their journey. These tools provide numerous ways to customize campaigns to deliver content and experience based on customer intent in the moment. It’s high time for us to acknowledge that customer engagement is an investment in customer relationship management. With some imagination and application, AI can - and will - lift every aspect of the customer journey.
Want to learn more? Reach out to our experts anytime. We’d love to help.