– Effective customer support relies on using the best tools and technologies, including AI, to create value for the customer and the business.
– Offloading too much to automated responses or self-service platforms can lead to frustrations.
– AI can play a crucial role behind the scenes while the support team provides personalized interactions.
– AI can cut through busywork, reduce admin, accelerate processes, and find information to fulfill customer requests.
– AI tools should be trustworthy and rooted in guidelines that protect sensitive information.
– Customer support leaders should scrutinize AI tools and collaborate with IT partners to ensure data protection.
– Organizations that focus on delivering a personalized, human, and empathetic experience using AI tools will flourish.
– AI can be applied behind the scenes to build efficiencies while support reps remain center stage and ready to help.
When a customer reaches out for support on a product or service, it’s a crucial time for any business. Today, making those moments count isn’t as simple as answering a phone call or responding to an email. Effective customer success relies on using the very best tools and technologies – including AI – to help drive a seamless interaction that creates real value for the customer and the business.
This smart use of technology can make the difference between a customer becoming a promoter that goes out of their way to recommend a company, or turning tail to head to a competitor.
However, there’s also a balance to be struck. The best support teams thrive on human connections as customers desire meaningful, personal interactions. Offloading too much to automated responses or self-service help desk platforms can lead to unintended frustrations. To drive true value and impact, support teams and their AI helpers need to divide and conquer.
Head of Customer Success, EMEA, Slack.
Identifying AI’s support role
To build an idea of AI’s role in the support team, let’s look at a couple of potential scenarios for an imaginary customer, Salim. He’s looking to renew a yearly coffee subscription using a giftcard from his aunt. In the first scenario, he calls the Quick Coffee Co and hits an automated, AI response. Unfortunately, there’s no option to use a giftcard over the phone, and the AI is unable to connect him with a real human. Online, he tries again, but hits another wall with an AI chatbot. Frustration builds, and eventually he gives up and looks for his caffeine hit elsewhere.
This is what happens when AI is used to replace humans or to try and offer shortcuts for businesses that fail to account for the complexity of delivering a great support service. In a different scenario, though, AI can play a crucial role behind the scenes while the real support team provides a personalized interaction.
In this alternate scenario, Salim hits the live chat app armed with his giftcard and is connected with a real person – Nuala. Nuala is able to set up his subscription there and then, take the gift card code, and before the call’s ended Salim has a confirmation message and knows he’s good to go with his morning brew safely secured.
While the experience has been seamless, Nuala was using an AI helper behind the scenes to keep things moving. She pulled up an instant recap on the giftcard process by using an AI assistant while Salim was on the line, kicked off an automatic workflow to create a new subscriber to the coffee package, and then shared all of this in a channel with her co-workers who can ask AI to recap what’s happened.
Rather than replace the human interactions that make support work stand out, Nuala was able to use AI to cut through the busywork, reduce admin, accelerate processes and find the information he needed to get Salim’s request on track. AI took on the tedious work, while Nuala stuck to the stuff that’s not only more enjoyable, but makes a real difference for the customer.
Building AI on a trusted foundation
Simply having an AI tool isn’t enough to deliver a great service. For customer-facing teams to make the most of the benefits of AI, like Nuala did, it also needs to be trustworthy and rooted in guidelines that keep sensitive information safe.
This is key, because today almost 50% of people don’t trust organizations to use AI ethically. Before embracing AI, support leaders should scrutinize tools and ensure there’s a trust-layer built in that ensures customer and company data will be protected.
It’s only with these assurances in place that customer support can start unlocking the benefits of generative AI tools. With protections verified, AI can draw on relevant content to provide helpful recaps on customer interactions, craft summaries of recent challenges, automate processes tied to CRM inputs and much more. And as AI and automation capabilities evolve, the efficiency gains for customer-facing teams will become exponential.
By taking the time to look into how solution providers are implementing AI and collaborating with partners in IT to ensure sensitive data is protected, customer support leaders can start weaving AI into their workflows with confidence.
Keeping the spotlight on human teams
There’s no doubt that interactions between people and AI tools are going to increase. Yet as the technology advances, organizations that focus on delivering a personalized, human, and empathetic experience using tools that respect data protection and privacy, are the ones that will flourish.
That doesn’t mean ignoring the progress and benefits that AI can offer, however. Instead, it means applying them safely, behind the scenes to build efficiencies – like automated processes and instant access to helpful customer information – just as Nuala did in her interaction with Salim. And while that work is being accelerated behind the curtain, support reps can remain where customers want them to be: center stage, and ready to help.
AI Eclipse TLDR:
When it comes to customer support, businesses need to make the most of technology, including AI, to provide a seamless and valuable experience for customers. However, there is a balance to be struck, as customers still desire personal and meaningful interactions. Offloading too much to automated responses or self-service platforms can lead to frustration. To drive real value, support teams and AI helpers need to work together.
In one scenario, a customer named Salim tries to renew his coffee subscription using a gift card. He encounters an automated AI response over the phone and an AI chatbot online, but neither can help him use the gift card. Frustrated, he gives up and goes elsewhere. This happens when AI is used to replace humans without considering the complexity of support services.
In another scenario, Salim uses a live chat app and is connected to a real support person named Nuala. Nuala is able to set up his subscription, take the gift card code, and provide a confirmation message. Behind the scenes, Nuala uses an AI helper to streamline the process and provide instant recaps and automate workflows. This allows Nuala to focus on the important tasks that make a difference for the customer.
Having an AI tool is not enough to deliver great service. It also needs to be trustworthy and follow guidelines to protect customer and company data. By ensuring the proper safeguards are in place, support teams can leverage AI to provide helpful recaps, automate processes, and access customer information more efficiently.
While AI will play an increasing role in customer interactions, organizations should focus on delivering a personalized and empathetic experience. AI should be used behind the scenes to build efficiencies, while human support reps remain at the forefront, ready to assist customers.