How AI transforms customer service into a profit center.

In this demonstration of customer support bots in action, Freshworks CEO Girish Mathrubootham explains how AI-powered bots can induce repeat business by improving the customer journey – from initial inquiries to in-person customer experiences to even post-sales customer satisfaction.

Girish Mathrubootham

Founder and CEO, Freshworks

What's in this discussion

  • Training bots to deliver human-like responses
  • Delivering proactive engagement with bots
  • Context-sharing to ease collaborative resolution

 

 

Part 1: How trainable bots emulate support agents

Host: In this demonstration, we’ll walk you through the day in the life of two individuals, John and Amy. We’ll observe their customer journey during a visit to the Zoo, and how AI and 360-degree customer journey visibility vastly enhanced their experience. 

Let’s take a closer look at how their customer journey begins. Amy wasn’t sure if the Zoo was open, so she called their telephone number to find out. The Zoo cleverly installed an AI-powered bot on their phone line as a deflection tool to ensure that customers didn’t have to wait to receive simple answers. Here’s how the conversation went:

Bot: Thank you for calling the London Zoo. How can I help you?

Sophie: Hi, are you open today?

Bot: The London Zoo is open every day of the year except Christmas Day, between 9 am to 5 pm.

Sophie: I just want to know when the Zoo opens today.

Bot: Between 9 am to 5 pm.

Girish Mathrubootham: As you can see, the London Zoo has thoroughly customized their bot (which happens to be Freshdesk’s chatbot, called Freddy). They’ve also imported their FAQs and knowledge base into the bot, so it can provide definitive answers to common questions like “When will the Zoo open?”. You might also have noticed that the bot provided correct answers to the same question phrased in two different ways. The London Zoo had trained their bot to identify similar, yet differently-phrased questions, creating a consistent customer experience for every user. 

However, it is a bad practice for bots to end customer interactions by answering basic questions. That’s a very support-centric view of customer interactions – rather, bots must be utilized to create seamless customer experiences. Most customer support teams are trained to operate in silos and are focused on providing correct answers. However, support teams should also try to create value for the customer. Think about it – why would someone want information on when the Zoo opens? It’s safe to say that they’re planning to visit. This is a great opportunity for bots to guide a simple inquiry into becoming a business opportunity.

Part 2: How business bots close the sales loop

Girish Mathrubootham: Here’s where things get interesting. Once a customer asks a question like, “When do you open today?”, the chatbot can be configured to trigger a ‘ticket booking’ business workflow right after it answers that question. This accelerates the sales loop and allows the customer to skip multiple steps in their customer journey (visiting the Zoo’s website or a physical ticketing machine), saving them significant time and effort. 

Chatbots are a great way of absorbing context from customer interactions and anticipating their needs. For instance, if someone asks about the price of a child ticket, they’re probably planning on bringing children along. A business could use this knowledge to guide potential customers towards child-friendly attractions within the Zoo, thereby creating value and nudging them towards visiting. This way, bots can actively go beyond providing support and assist in generating business.

Here’s what that interaction would look like, as administered by the London Zoo: 

Part 3: How AI enhances post-sales customer experiences

Girish Mathrubootham: Now that John and Amy have purchased their tickets, let’s observe the next stage in their customer journey. During their visit, they find themselves waiting in a long line for the popular Penguin show. The Zoo anticipates this scenario and deploys a timed workflow that checks in with their customers to see how they’re doing. Amy gets a WhatsApp text from the Zoo’s bot, asking her if she’s enjoying her visit. Amy replies with “Not really, I’m stuck in a long queue for the Penguin Show”. The bot’s AI detects annoyance and escalates the chat conversation  to a live agent, who immediately presents two solutions to Amy:

  • “There’s a shorter line three minutes away – here are directions to get there.”

  • “We can offer you a VIP pass that will help you avoid the queue entirely. Would you like to purchase it?”

Both options are excellent ways to enhance customer experiences in real-time. These CX-boosting tools are revenue-generating channels. Closing a sale is not the end of the revenue cycle – great CX can subtly increase the chances of repeat business as well.

Let’s observe how Amy’s customer journey progresses. At the end of her Zoo visit, she begins her trip back home, and realizes that she doesn’t have her phone anymore. She must have left it at the Zoo, so she asks John to contact the Zoo’s support team on WhatsApp. He complains that Amy lost her phone, and this conversation is immediately routed to a live agent, given the urgency of the request. The agent reassures them that the team will locate the lost phone, and turns the WhatsApp text into a ticket, so the entire team knows it.  

Here’s where the context-driven collaboration of a well-equipped customer support platform (Freshdesk, in the London Zoo’s case) comes into play. The support agent heading the search for Amy’s lost phone has full visibility into her customer journey. He sees that she visited the Penguin show, so he alerts the lost-and-found department to check that venue for a missing phone. This visibility drastically reduces the turnaround time, since it eliminates the need to comb the entire Zoo for the lost device. 

The customer journey ends with turning a support experience into a business opportunity, thereby creating a customer for life. Again, the customer success agent notices from Amy’s user profile that she visited the Penguin Show and mentions it in his follow-up email.

This level of personalization and proactiveness generates opportunities for repeat business. It is a great way to demonstrate that customer support is shifting away from being a cost center and is slowly becoming a revenue-generating, sales-accelerating function.