Here’s how customer service teams are actually using AI
AI tools for customer service driving higher productivity, happier agents, and satisfied customers
Last updated October 9, 2023
Let’s take a moment to recognize how hard customer service teams work to keep your customers happy. That’s a big mandate even during the best of times. Today, it feels like businesses are dealing with higher ticket volumes and more customer issues than ever before. Add uncertainties to the mix—like supply chain issues, staffing shortages, and hiring freezes—and agents have a lot cut out for them. Your customers are probably seeing more friction in their experience than they need to, as well.
When we talk about AI in customer service, a lot of people immediately default to thinking about chatbots that act like humans. But that’s not the case. One of the most powerful ways businesses are using AI is by making their service teams more agile, especially when dealing with high volumes of customer requests.
Service teams have a ton on their plates
Between high ticket volumes and repetitive tasks, support agents have their hands full. As customer issues come in, service teams can spend a lot of time and resources categorizing each one manually to ensure it gets to the right place. Inside the actual conversation, they might lack crucial insights that could result in a quicker resolution. All the time spent inside conversations doing repetitive tasks eventually amounts to hours that could be spent on higher-value tasks.
Of course, automation isn’t meant to replace humans. It should make their jobs easier. On top of that, your customers still want a human experience. Rather than replace your whole service team with sentient bots, AI can be used to automate repetitive and time-consuming tasks to enhance the experience for your customers while creating a more efficient workflow for your agents.
Automation isn’t meant to replace humans. It should make their jobs easier.
Here are ways businesses can use AI from Zendesk to make their service teams more efficient. First, there are advanced bots that come with pre-trained customer intents, specific to CX teams, which means more personalized and accurate responses, more productive agents, and faster setup. Second, intelligent triage, which automatically classifies and categorizes incoming customer conversations based on customer intent, sentiment, and language. It helps service teams automatically prioritize and route the conversations to the right agent. Third, there’s intelligence in the context panel, an agent-facing application that provides insights about customers that can help agents respond more effectively. Fourth, macro suggestions for admins, AI-powered suggestions for new shared macros that admins should create to make their agents more effective. And lastly, generative AI tools that touch every part of the service organization to make agents and admins more efficient.
Bots are a support agent’s best friend. They’re extremely effective at taking repetitive questions and tasks — like password resets and refund requests — off a service team’s plate, enabling agents to focus on higher-value conversations. Bots powered by Zendesk are easy to set up and deploy across all messaging channels, and they’re also easy to customize and change on the fly.
Zendesk’s bots are not only easy to set up across all messaging channels, but also simple to customize and adjust as needed. With the addition of Zendesk AI, these bots become even more potent and user-friendly.
Zendesk’s bot builder, a tool that requires no coding, is the secret to this adaptability. Admins can tailor the bot’s responses to individual customer issues using pre-set messages, help center articles, and more, all without needing a developer. This allows you to shape how the bot interacts with your customers in a way that best suits your business.
Our bots also employ Generative AI, using knowledge from your help center to swiftly create accurate, conversational responses for your customers. You can even construct your bot’s persona, ensuring it maintains a consistent level of service across channels, whether it’s friendly, formal, or playful.
Our advanced bots are intelligent tools for messaging and email, leveraging a vast database of customer intents specific to CX teams in your industry. This results in more personalized and accurate responses, increased agent productivity, and quicker setup. These bots come equipped with tools that provide admins with recommendations on what needs to be automated.
When a conversation appears in an agent’s workspace, they need to figure out how to prioritize it against other conversations, who could best solve the issue, and how the customer is feeling.
An experienced agent might be able to determine these things at a glance. Still, when the tickets are piling up and the customers are pressed for a resolution, the agent’s time would probably be better spent actually resolving the issue.
That’s where AI is a powerful friend—it can automatically analyze requests and figure out customer intent, sentiment, and language in order to route and prioritize issues. Intent labels can be customized an organization’s taxonomy, so that conversations land in the hands of the right agent who can solve the issue most effectively.
For an AI tool like Intelligent Triage to automate tasks such as sentiment analysis and routing, it requires a large set of data at its foundation. The majority of companies do not have time to build out this data set from their customer conversations—doing so is time-consuming and costly.
To work around that, Zendesk has already done a lot of the heavy lifting, using our own data to train AI to understand repetitive tasks and common queries. Companies that roll out Intelligent Triage for their service teams can see value quickly. The end result is service agents who are more agile and efficient.
Intelligence in the context panel
While intelligent triage works under the hood to route conversations, agents can also use AI to gain insights and help them respond in a more understanding, effective way. Once conversations are routed and prioritized, agents can use intelligence in the context panel to glean insights about the customer and determine the best course of action in the conversation.
Alongside the conversation, agents might see a suggestion to automate a response to the customer without having to do manual work. For example, a retail agent might see a prompt to suggest a refund or an update on an order status or a macro that sends a relevant knowledge base article. With insights that show intent, language, and sentiment, it puts agents on the quickest and most efficient path to solving a customer issue.
Like a co-pilot, intelligent tools like similar tickets in the context panel helps agents do their jobs more efficiently, removing the guesswork and repetitive manual tasks. Generative AI features can provide agents with a quick summary of the entire conversation to help to resolve issues quickly. With intuitive tools and suggestions that are accessible, pressure is reduced for agents who are experiencing higher volumes of requests and customers who are facing more complex challenges.
Macro suggestions for admins
Zendesk AI can surface relevant help center articles in your customer conversations, and it can fill in the gaps where articles don’t yet exist. Content Cues are friendly, AI-powered nudges for improving your knowledge base. Zendesk AI scans every inbound support request and collects those trending topics for knowledge management teams. If an admin sees a topic pop up, they can work with their knowledge management team to create a help center article, so customers can get the answers that they need on their own. Generative AI for your knowledge base effortlessly crafts content to boosts self-service, accelerating and streamlining content creation. The content’s tone can be shifted to be more friendly or formal, and creativity can be inspired.
Zendesk AI can also support admins behind the scenes to improve your operations and streamline resolutions with macro suggestions for admins, which are new, AI-suggested shared responses admins can create to help agents respond faster and more consistently. Our AI identifies gaps in existing macros and creates relevant responses to reduce time spent on analyzing tickets and conversations.
AI adds up to savings
On average, intelligent triage and intelligence in the context panel can save 45 seconds per customer issue. For an average enterprise retailer, that can amount to 120 hours a month in time saved by AI. It enables service teams to tackle high volumes of conversations by automating repetitive tasks and requests using an enormous trove of data.
The modern customer journey is complex and constantly evolving. And many businesses feel pressure to predict the where, when, and how of their customer interactions. Meanwhile, the conversations are piling up.
On average, intelligent triage and intelligence in the context panel can save 45 seconds per customer issue… that can amount to 120 hours a month in time saved by AI
Thankfully, AI simplifies a great deal of the customer experience. It helps resolve issues faster and more efficiently. Better yet, it’s easier than ever for businesses to roll out—in an instant, not weeks or months. Zendesk has made it beautifully simple.
With Zendesk, our easy-to-use AI helps service teams scale and simplify support. Deploy quickly to start solving issues right away, surface relevant insights to aid your team, reduce repetitive work, and start building better bots.
The best part is that it’s already here.