How AI Can Take Your Customer Service to the Next Level

person interacting with a chatbot via a smartphone

Artificial intelligence (AI) can give businesses an extra hand in keeping their clients happy while also amping up productivity and reducing costs — three important boxes to tick with the UK economy in stagnation and interest rates still high.

Assisted by the good old human touch, using AI in customer service allows your team to gather data insights from your clientele. With that, your company can develop a more personalised customer relationship management (CRM).

The best CRM systems in the market already come with AI-assisted tools, which reflects an rising trend: currently, AI is expected to play a role in 95% of customer interactions by 2025.

In this article, we’ll cover nine ways you can use AI in your customer service, peppered with some industry statistics that can help you identify trends in customer needs, as well as the direction the market is taking to address them.

How does AI in customer service work?

AI is a broad umbrella term that can be used to describe many tools. The one most applied to customer service is machine learning — a technology that allows computers to learn and perform tasks without being programmed to do them. It does that by recognising patterns in data you provide, which then allows it to make predictions and respond when new data is inputted.

When it comes to helping your customer service team, natural language processing (NLP) is the type of machine learning you should be looking out for. This tool allows computers to understand spoken and written language — the same way Siri or Alexa do.

With it, you’re able to utilise AI in sorting through emails and routing them to the most appropriate channels, for example. It can also analyse words in emails and calls to predict customer intention and the urgency each contact should have.

Why should you use AI in customer service?

You should use AI in customer service to gather precious insights on your clientele, help your customer service team better serve your customers, and offload some of the more basic tasks from your employees so they can turn their attention to more complex ones.

Considering the many ways AI can be incorporated into your business — including chatbots, phone automation, and generative content — we’re confident it’s a solution that’ll take your customer service to the next level. In turn, you’re likely to offer a more efficient and personalised customer experience, boosting your business’ reputation.

Furthermore, according to The Guardian, UK businesses are losing a whopping £11.4 billion a month in lost productivity due to poor customer service. Getting AI assistance for your team offers a solution to counter that, and avoid wasting money.

9 ways AI can help your customer service

AI can help your customer service team become more productive. In fact, IT services company Accenture predicts it’ll increase overall business productivity by up to 40% in the next 12 years. Coupled with some top project management software, it can greatly reduce the resolution time for contacts.

Several AI-assisted tools, such as text analysis, call routing, and multilingual support, can play a role in this. To help you find the ones better poised to help your business, we’ll go over some of the tasks that can be undertaken more easily with AI.

1. Chatbot feature

The feature: Chatbots are a way of dealing with quick queries through live messaging. Once instructed with your data, they’re able to take your customers’ questions and offer a range of solutions. Should they prove unsuccessful, they can then connect the customer with a customer service agent.

The benefit: Implementing chatbots means being able to offer customer support 24/7. It also gives your clients a primary port of call that can potentially solve their problem without taking up the time of your employees.

The data suggests that customers are embracing this solution: a recent survey found that 88% of customers had at least one conversation with a chatbot in 2022 and 67% of customers would rather do that than wait for a human agent to deal with their query.

2. Multilingual support

The feature: Some AI tools are able to understand emails in multiple languages and translate them before they reach your customer service team. When replying, the tool can run the same process in reverse, translating your team’s response into your customer’s preferred language.

The benefit: If you run an international business, the ability to serve your customers in their own language can be crucial to keep your clientele in the long run, and develop brand loyalty. Consider this: in a survey conducted in the US focused on software, 35% of respondents said they’d switch products to get support in their native language.

3. Email routing

The feature: Through text analysis, AI can recognise words or sentences and sort emails in categories you set, such as complaints, product queries, and supplier contacts. It can then route these emails towards specific inboxes or even other channels, depending on the urgency.

The benefit: It allows you to better prioritise work on the email front, or even take up the query via live chat if the situation calls for it. Overall, it performs the basic pre-sorting of queries that previously would require a member of staff to get done. This is crucial, especially if you run a small team that has to stay on top of a busy inbox.

4. Text generation

The feature: AI writing may have its share of controversy in creative industries, but in customer service, it’s a surefire way to speed processes up. With AI writing tools, your team can easily draft emails based on templates you set and on previous similar queries you received in the past. One of your employees can then proofread the text, verify the tone and meaning are right, and hit send.

The benefit: The main advantage of AI writing is automating text that follows very similar structures. Queries related to deliveries or to the timeframe of your services tend to follow clear patterns that can be easily spotted and acted upon by AI, which greatly reduces reply time. Considering that nearly half of customers expect to be replied to in less than four hours, every minute saved can help.

5. Voice analysis

The feature: Similarly to the text analysis AI tools, these ones analyse speech. They’re able to identify words and sentences and then categorise the call. When integrated to some of the best business VoIP systems in the market, they can then route the call to the most appropriate channel or department, as well as generate a transcript of it for further reference.

The benefit: AI for call centres tends to provide better customer experience overall. Voice analysis helps you avoid forcing your clients to go through a long pre-recorded menu, which lengthens the time of the call and makes them impatient.

6. Staff focus

The feature: Granted, this is not a feature strictly speaking, but it’s something so worthwhile for your business that we feel it warrants a slot in our list. With your team freed up from being the initial port of call for your customers, dealing with basic queries, and sorting out emails and calls, they can actually use their time more efficiently.

The benefit: Customer service roles can be quite stressful and excessive work in them can lead to burnout. By adopting technology that eases your staff’s workload, such as AI-based tools, you can improve your overall employee satisfaction. In turn, this can give them more energy and time to provide better service.

7. Proactive recommendations

The feature: AI can use your customer’s data to offer personalised recommendations to your clientele. Some of the best ecommerce platforms allow you to integrate it with your webstore, so you can create workflows for AI to offer discounts, product suggestions, and abandoned cart reminders to your customers.

The benefit: If you run an online business, this tool can boost sales by continually engaging with potential customers. It also gives a personalised feel to the customer experience, and if you’re wondering how essential this is, let the data tell you: nearly two thirds of respondents of a 2022 survey said a brand would lose their loyalty if it provided a non-personalised experience.

8. Data management

The feature: Currently, the best CRM systems for customer service can be integrated with AI data management tools. The reason is simple: it’s a quick way to give data to your customer service team and allow it to further engage with your customers. For example, you can create workflows for AI to identify your regular customers and to prompt your staff to contact them if they haven’t reached out to you in a while.

The benefit: AI data management can enhance personalisation and brand loyalty. With your customers’ history at your team’s fingertips, they can contact them with detailed information on past purchases, prompting good, human conversations. AI can also identify customers that have the potential to become regulars and single them out to your marketing team to drive up sales.

9. Onboarding assistance

The feature: AI can also be used to train new customer service agents in your company. Through virtual assistants, an agent in training can use AI to recognise the patterns in queries, as well as refer to previous responses sent by your company. The AI tool can give suggestions and, as time goes by, offer the employee more complex cases for a progressive learning experience.

The benefit: This feature can save up productivity by handing a task that would previously take time from another member of staff to a machine. For customer service teams with a high staff turnover rate, like call centres, this is a major plus that can be measured over time.

AI in customer service: key takeaways

AI can offer useful, time-saving tools to your customer service team. By freeing up your employees from repetitive tasks, you enhance their work experience — which can help with your staff retention rates — and boost their productivity.

This can be a major factor in driving up the quality of the treatment you give your clientele, particularly in the cases in which AI takes the backseat: namely, the ones that require human empathy as well as deep understanding of situations. After all, a machine can’t gauge that forgiving a delayed payment is a good call to keep a customer in the long run, but a human agent can.

Written by:
Lucas Pistilli author headshot photo
Lucas is a Brazilian-born journalist and Expert Market’s go-to writer for all things EPOS systems, merchant accounts, and franking machines. Having covered business, politics and technology for many years, he’s driven by his passion for the written word and his goal to help people make well-informed decisions.