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The role of AI in managing modern customer expectations and improving the customer service experience

  • Written by Philipp Heltewig, CEO and Co-founder at Cognigy

Modern consumers crave immediacy and the global pandemic, and acceleration of technology it delivered, has only enhanced this demand.

With technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots gaining ground, people expect solutions and services that are both personally tailored and delivered quickly, subsequently increasing pressure on companies to handle customer requests as fast and efficiently as possible.

KPMG research shows that customer expectations and behaviour shifted dramatically during the pandemic, as customers favoured a ‘back-to-basics’ approach by businesses, with an increased focus on transparency, online channels and the reliability of delivery. How can Australian businesses manage customer expectations in the age of AI without setting unrealistic expectations?

Boost communicability

Good communication is one of the key, and most important, elements in achieving customer satisfaction. Driven by increasing numbers of communication channels, consumers expect transparent and consistent communication and that questions and problems will be quickly resolved.

AI offers a variety of automated consumer service options, ensuring consumer needs and requests are met as quickly as possible. With the ability to filter common requests, AI can assist human agents acting as an effective first like of communication. Often able to resolve simple issues before a customer is passed on to a human agent, this further improves communication and reduces waiting times.

AI systems can offer the immediacy that consumers crave, helping to build trust and loyalty. Another advantage is AI’s ability to respond, 24/7 meaning consumers are no longer restricted to business hours and can expect a much quicker response.

Reduce customer service response times

Human agents need time off, whereas an AI solution can run continuously enabling businesses to provide out-of-hours support and to cater to multiple time zones. It is reported that some Australian consumers have spent as long as five hours on hold before getting through to a company representative as call waiting times increased 182 per cent year-on-year. This significantly increases the risk of customers turning to an alternative business to get the service or product they want.

According to research byPwC, 32% of all customers would stop doing business with a brand they loved after one bad experience and 59% would walk away after several bad experiences.

Leveraging AI technologies, such as conversational AI, can significantly improve response times without the need to hire more people in the team, providing the ability to respond to customer questions and requests 24/7.

Additionally, staffing traditional call centres and training human workers is a costly and time-consuming expense. AI can further help to reduce business costs while exceeding customer expectations.

AI and chatbot technologies are not set to replace human agents but should act as a first-line response. As customer issues get more complex, these can be seamlessly escalated to a human representative instead.

Use data to personalise the customer experience

Another significant benefit of AI-led customer service is that it allows for more personalised customer experiences. According to research by PwC, personalisation is recognised by Australian customers as the number one driver for customer experience.

With the ability to store, read and analyse large amounts of data, AI makes it easier for businesses to better understand customers and to offer tailored solutions and suggestions based on previous browsing or buying behaviours.

AI-led algorithm systems can be programmed to suggest complementary products, fully automating the traditional upselling technique and reducing the amount of time and effort required for a business. This tailored shopping approach is not only designed to upsell, but to boost the overall customer experience, making it more convenient.

Improve the possibilities for customers to help themselves

AI can also empower customers in navigating self-help functionality, making self-service more straightforward and accessible. Using technology such as conversational AI means that people no longer have to rely on phone hotlines, staffed by human beings. Instead, consumers can start a conversation via a business’ webcat, social media or messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

This empowers consumers, giving them more choice and the option to contact a business via the channel that is most convenient to them at any given time. It also means that a business doesn’t need to handle each channel in silo, instead they are integrated into a single conversational AI platform for outstanding omnichannel experiences.

Automated customer service is the future of great customer service. This does not mean that human agent led customer service will disappear but that a modern funnel approach will enable more autonomy for each customer. Modern customer service can provide consumers with the tools to help themselves, with the support of AI-driven chatbot technology, only moving to a human agent for help if the issue has greater complexities.

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