Global AI spending is exploding. According to current trends, it will go from $2 billion in 2018 to over $7.3 billion in just the next four years1. Many publications have proclaimed it as the “next big thing” in the business world. They seem to believe that it’s poised to change the way companies interact with customers altogether. They’re less clear, though, on how businesses can actually use it. But today, one of the best uses of AI is customer service. That’s especially true when companies use it to provide proactive support.
If you’re not exactly sure what that means, you’re in the right place. In this post, we’ve compiled four examples of brands using AI to provide proactive customer support.
4 Ways Brands are Using AI to Provide Proactive Customer Support
Despite AI’s constant presence in the headlines, many businesses have yet to properly incorporate it into their own support models. But here’s how four businesses are using it well. You can use these examples to get a clearer idea of the potential this technology might hold for your business.
#1 Help Customers Better Understand their Options
Research is an essential part of the buying process. After all, a customer can’t make a purchase until they decide what they want to buy. When customers realize that they need a product or service to fulfill a need, their first step is typically to learn what their options are and how those options differ from one another. Unfortunately, this process is often frustrating and time-consuming.
Take, for example, the research involved in buying a new car. Unless a consumer is particularly interested in cars, learning about different makes, models, and features can be tedious. That’s especially true if the process takes place in a dealership with the implicit pressure to spend tens of thousands of dollars based on the information that a salesperson provides.
Of course, customers could reach out to a dealership via email or other online channels. But unless the company has salespeople staffing their support team, this is unlikely to yield the same level of information.
That’s why dealerships like Feldman Automotive Group use AI as part of their support strategies. Instead of requiring customers to visit their showroom to learn about vehicles, they enable them to find that information with an AI-powered chatbot.
This bot is designed to help prospective buyers better understand what their options are. It asks similar questions to those that a salesperson would inquire about early in the process. That way, it can help shoppers narrow down their choices and choose the right vehicle for their needs.
This can help customers gain a basic understanding of what their needs are before they ever speak with a salesperson. By the time they arrive at the dealership, they feel much more prepared to make an informed decision. Plus, if customers use the bot, it can greatly reduce the frustration and pressure that many consumers experience while shopping.
They even designed their bot to engage with visitors within a certain radius of dealership locations. This way, it can do more than serves as a customer support tool. It can also aid the business in reaching and engaging with prospective buyers.
#2 Give Personalized Recommendations
Big-ticket items like cars aren’t the only purchases for which consumers seek advice and assistance. But in many cases, it’s not additional information they’re looking for — it’s product recommendations.
That’s especially true for shoppers who are looking to purchase gifts. After all, most of us don’t have trouble choosing products that we like for ourselves. But choosing gifts for others is an entirely different process that can be much easier with third-party input.
That’s why 1-800-Flowers uses AI to power their GWYN, or Gifts When You Need, tool. They built this “gift concierge” using IBM Watson. They’ve designed it to help shoppers find the perfect gifts for their needs. It first asks customers what they’re shopping for. Then, it gains further clarity with additional questions.
After that, it uses its understanding of their answers to provide personalised product recommendations — complete with pricing information and in-depth product information. If a shopper finds something they like, they can place an order within seconds. And if you’re wondering whether consumers actually like using this feature for product recommendations, the answer is a resounding “yes.”
In fact, the average user asks GWYN five to six questions and spends more than two minutes with the service. And after using it, 80% of shoppers said they’d use the service again. It’s clear, then, that shoppers are open to engaging with AI-powered bots for recommendations. And for businesses, the potential here is significant.
Using AI to assist your customers in choosing the right products increases the chances that they’ll find something they like and make a purchase. Beyond that, it can also decrease the amount of time your support team spends answering these types of inquiries. That gives them extra time to focus on more complex customer needs.
#3 Improve the Onboarding Experience
Onboarding is an essential step in the customer experience. A customer’s first few interactions with your product can determine whether they see value from it and, as a result, whether they become a long-term user.
For this reason, it’s in your best interest to do more than simply give new users all of the information they need. You want to make it easy for them to move through the process of getting familiar with different tools and features. Unfortunately, many businesses assume that new users will reach out to support teams if they run into issues or have questions. That’s what support teams are there for, right?
In theory, yes. But in practice, many users won’t do this. They won’t want to spend time waiting for an agent, and they won’t want to risk potential embarrassment if the answer or solution they need is a simple one. As a result, they get frustrated and stop using the product altogether. That’s an easy way to lose a customer before they really have a chance to enjoy your product or service.
Thankfully, this is an area in which AI excels. Slack, for example, uses a bot called Slackbot to help users make the most of their product right from the start.
The bot automatically messages new users to explain how Slack works and how they can use it. This way, if users have questions, they can first ask the bot to determine whether there’s an easy answer or solution. The bot also offers tips and recommendations to help them maximize the value they get from Slack.
This way, users have 24/7 access to support and information. Better yet, they can get this help without leaving the product’s interface — and without ever waiting for a response from a live support agent.
#4 Follow up Automatically
Collecting feedback is an important process for every business. It’s the best way to get an accurate picture of customer satisfaction, and it can provide extremely valuable insight as to where you have opportunities to improve. And while many companies rely on mass survey emails that they send on a quarterly or yearly basis, this isn’t the best approach.
In order to get an accurate picture of a customer’s experience with your brand, you need to ask for feedback when that experience is still fresh in their minds. And though contacting individual customers with timely surveys would be almost impossible to do manually, it’s easy with AI.
Freshbooks, for example, automatically sends customer surveys to users the day after they interact with the support team.
But beyond simply being timely, the emails also include details that help customers fill out their surveys accurately. They reference the support agent that the customer interacted with by name, and they even include a full transcript of the conversation for reference.
Without this kind of a refresher, it’s easy for customers to answer survey questions based on whatever they can remember about their experiences. But that can easily yield inaccurate results. Giving this information to users ensures that the responses they receive are accurate.
AI holds a lot of potential for customer support. It can be useful in a variety of context, but it’s especially promising for businesses that are looking to take a proactive approach to assisting their customers.
And while the four examples in this post illustrate the variety of roles it can play, they certainly aren’t a comprehensive list. If you’re thinking about incorporating AI into your strategy, it’s important to tailor your approach to your customers’ needs.
What do they contact your support team about? What issues do they run into? And how can you use AI to address those issues and concerns?
The brands on this page succeeded because they were able to answer each of these questions. As a result, their customers experience the benefits every day. Give your customers the same benefit by using AI for proactive customer support.
1 – https://towardsdatascience.com/15-artificial-intelligence-ai-stats-you-need-to-know-in-2018-b6c5eac958e5