Ronn Torossian, CEO, 5WPR
Until a couple of years ago, who would have thought consumers would embrace AI and chatbots?
A fall 2019 survey by global tech company LivePerson revealed that more than 70% of respondents in the UK, France, and Australia used AI in the past year. Here in the U.S. and Germany, participants had a better than 50% rate. AI is on the rise. Of those polled, 80% of Americans used AI for customer care last year, increasing from 67% in 2018. In response to the increased demand, 67% of the 307 brands surveyed by Forrester Consulting and NICE inContact said they intend to increase their AI funding over the next year. In yet another recent global survey, MIT Technology Review Insights found that 87% of the 1,000 brands in 11 different industries had already employed AI. Nearly half (41%) reported improved customer experience as a benefit.
What Others Are Saying
Technology research and consulting company OMDIA reported that today’s consumer wants easier access to self-service solutions. Business consulting company Accenture went on to state that well-designed bots can now resolve 80% of interactions with customers, something digital PR can help with a lot. And global research and advisory firm Gartner predicted that by 2021 50% of brands will spend more on developing bots than traditional mobile apps.
Self-serving resolution and assistance via AI can be timesaving and helpful except when it stresses consumers with the often-customary responses of “press one for… or press two for… or press three for…” Similarly, asking the same question several times is often the norm, quite frustrating to consumers, and must be discontinued.
Well-informed and up-to-date live agents are the best solution to removing these stress points, but it’s also not realistic. It’s easier and faster to regularly update chatbots with the correct information and data to answer the most frequently asked questions, removing a lot of stress and load on agents. They can be better utilized to handle more complex issues with customers.
Historically, brands have measured customer satisfaction on such things as how long a customer was on a call with an agent or chatbot, whether the issue was resolved on that first call, and the comments received afterward.
The studies mentioned earlier point to consumers’ willingness to engage in conversational AI if they can also speak to a “live” person, when necessary. Giving customers control over the option empowers them, and gains their confidence and loyalty.
What raises the importance of AI are heightened consumer expectations for 24/7 customer service. This extends the value of AI and increases the demand and necessity for faster advancements in technology.
AI for brands that sell products can also help increase sales. Bots that simply inquire if a customer wishes to add such things like a $5 purchase to get free shipping or purchase a second item to take advantage of a “buy two, get the third free” promotion often boost revenue.
Smaller brands that rely on live agents to serve customer queries and issues may consider investing in an automated call center. There are several on the market, and any serious consideration in such an investment should address the following questions: Will it help deliver better customer service? Will it result in increased revenue? And will it foster stronger customer loyalty?