Artificial Intelligence
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Best Practices for Integrating Conversational AI into Customer Service

Here are ways you can use artificial intelligence technologies to personalize your services as well as reduce cost and provide more efficient customer experiences.

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Companies in industries such as fashion and travel are increasingly using AI technologies to enhance their operations. AI can help these companies personalize their services, reduce costs, and provide a more efficient customer experience.

One area of interest is conversational AI, used in chatbots and virtual assistants for customer service. Conversational AI can provide 24/7 availability, reduce response time, and improve service quality by collecting data from customer interactions.

Customer service is one of the trickiest parts of a business; if you don't know your customers well, things get hostile quickly. Most people contact customer service only when there's an issue or frustrating unanswered question. AI can mitigate these uncomfortable moments and mediate between the customer and the eventual human customer service agent.

How AI Works in Customer Service

There is no shortage of news publications excited about how AI can be incorporated into different customer service settings, such as call centers.

Today's businesses envision an army of customer service chatbots serving the masses and calming tempers before a customer reaches someone. Will this work, though? Is AI advanced enough to confidently and compassionately communicate with customers in a way that calms rather than frustrates them? The answer is that AI is getting better at it.

Today's AI is programmed with conversational language, which humans understand and feel at ease. Not every customer service program is created equally, though, and it's up to businesses to decide what kind of conversation they want their AI to have with customers.

How to Use AI for Good Customer Service Results

a woman using a smartphone and chatting with AI chatbotHow AI Works in Customer ServiceiStock

Companies planning to introduce conversational AI into their customer service teams this year must be mindful that there's a right way to do this and a wrong way. The wrong way could spell disaster for your customers and your business. Things to avoid include:

  • Poor quality AI chatbots
  • Adaptation before testing
  • Unrealistically high expectations
  • Poor communication with customers

In short, don't implement before letting your customers know they're dealing with a chatbot. If they know this, they accordingly lower expectations and feel they're dealing with a more upfront company. Now that you know what not to do, what exactly do successful customer service AI interactions look like?

How AI Helps Your Workers and Your Customers

Companies experimenting with this relatively new technology still iron out best practices for conversational AI. But, for now, we know what seems to be helping the bravest of companies adopt what could be one of the most important technologies of the last 30 years.

1. Test your AI before unleashing it on customers

There are hundreds of AI chatbots available to businesses. Unfortunately, many are unsuitable for certain industries or might not fit your company's standards. Analyze how the AI conducts a real customer service conversation before opening it up to customers. Test before you put your bot workforce into action. Is the grammar okay? Does it babble? Is it offensive in any way?

2. Deploy conversational AI technology that matches the mindset of your customers

A recent study at Georgia Tech showed that cheerful bots don't always set the right tone for your customers. Think of your industry and the mindset of people contacting the bot (for example, a person setting up funeral services). Does "Have a nice day!" sound the right tone for this industry?

3. Monitor each conversation and have the analysis ready to go

Monitoring your conversational AI workforce is the key to catching early errors or detecting a bot that might not be right for your industry. There is always a need to analyze the performance of any workforce, even an AI one. If you detect early problems, you can quickly adjust or even go with another program.

4. Ask for feedback

Asking for feedback on consumer interactions shows your customers that you care what they think and want them to be a part of the process. If they're dissatisfied with the interaction, it gives them a clear chance to let you know this so you can adjust the experience for them.

How Conversational AI Transforms Customer Service

Very few people are talking about completely replacing a human customer service department. Instead, AI aims to quickly solve customer problems without deeper questions that only humans can answer. Sometimes it's as simple as "What are your business hours?"

Simple questions and interactions often tax a human workforce dealing with more complex issues. While they're solving the more challenging tasks and using human emotion to calm customers, conversational AI can quickly and pleasantly answer the simple, more straightforward questions that don't require a human voice or text.

There are both benefits and risks to using conversational AI in customer service. Still, thanks to good data analysis - often done by AI, too - we're getting closer to that moment where machines can learn to help customers.

However, companies need to balance automation and human interaction and continually monitor and improve their conversational AI systems to ensure the best possible customer experience.

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