The future of customer support
Customer support was once confined to in-person, one-on-one interactions. It has come a long way since then, and there is more to come on the horizon.
With the advent of technology such as bots, artificial intelligence (AI), and much more, customers support will transform significantly over the next few years. Gartner predicted that by 2020, 85% of all customer interactions with a company will be handled without human involvement.
The technology that will transform customer support is already all around us. Let’s take a look at the technologies that will help pave the way for the future of customer support.
Artificial intelligence (AI)
AI takes massive amounts of data from multiple touch points, filters, analyzes, and ultimately learns from the information. AI does all that with two capabilities:
1. Machine learning
is how AI learns from data. It processes mountains of data to learn from it. Everyday applications of AI include spam email folders and Facebook suggestions.
2. Natural language processing (NLP)
is AI’s ability to understand, process, and interpret both spoken and written speech. Some examples of well-known NLP applications are Apple’s Siri and Google’s Alexa.
AI is the best student because it never stops learning; it only gets smarter the more data it’s given. This technology will help enhance customer support because it takes all that data (previous interactions, saved preferences, etc.) to paint a complete and cohesive understanding of what the customer wants, needs, and expects. With this deeper understanding, AI will help businesses anticipate, predict, and better cater to their customers’ needs. 32% of executives believe that AI will help guide their sales, marketing, or customer service functions by 2020.
Chatbots marry AI’s machine learning and NLP together in an instant, personalized experience for your customers. They’re logic technology wrapped up in a conversational user interface. Everyday examples of bots are iMessage or Facebook Messenger.
A lot of the same issues often come up and as a result, support agents spend a lot of their time repeating answers to common questions – bots can help automate this process, enabling agents to focus on more complex support issues. 79% of support agents feel they have a bigger impact when chatbots take on the easy questions.
Customers these days seek support on multiple channels. The challenge for businesses to to provide an omnichannel support system and meet customers at each touch point, ready to help. More and more businesses have been building chatbots into their messaging platforms. Chatbots combine data and the machine learning of AI and uses data to deliver a personalized experience when their customers reach out for support. Research has found that chatbots messages have a high response rate; private messages sent by businesses have a 96% response rate.
- 24/7 support. They’re always on, allowing you to offer around the clock support
- Scalable support. Even the fastest agents can only help one customer at a time, but with bots, you can automate responses for mass simple inquiries.
- Reduced costs. You also save on the costs of hiring and training more agents as you grow.
While chatbots are not able to tackle the more complicated support issues, the technology can be taught to escalate cases that require a live agent’s help.
Customer now expect more self-service options like a knowledge base when they reach out for support.
Self-service support is brilliant because it reduces your operating costs (customers are enabled to find answers themselves), as well as provide a method that meets your customers’ evolving expectations of support. These days, customers want to figure it out themselves; 72% of millennials feel that calling support isn’t the best way to resolve their issue.
Big brands and industry-leading companies such as Amazon have started providing webcam-facilitated support.
Amazon launched a Mayday button on their Kindle Fire tablets and phones that connects users and support agent with webcams. Among tablet owners, 75% of customer service interactions come from the button, and the average response time is 9.75 seconds.
A common misnomer is that machines will replace humans but that’s not the case. These new technologies automate mundane, routine tasks, which frees up your support agents to concentrate on finding the answers to the customers’ issues quickly, delivering the most value to your customers. Customer support is primed to become one of the main competitive advantages in winning customers’ businesses and new technology will help businesses get there.
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