Article | 5 min read

Here’s how customer service teams are actually using AI

It’s not sentient chatbots replacing the workforce. It’s about making people's jobs easier and creating better customer experiences.

By Cristina Fonseca, VP of Product

Last updated January 25, 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, hiring freezes, and—eek—the holiday rush, 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.

There are two ways businesses can use AI from Zendesk to make their service teams more efficient. First, there’s 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. Secondly, there’s Smart Assist, an agent-facing application that provides insights about customers that can help agents respond more effectively.

Intelligent Triage

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. That way it lands in the hands of the right agent who can solve the issue most effectively.

Intelligent triage from Zendesk

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.

Zendesk AI: Superpowers for customer service teams

Find out more about how AI is being used to create amazing customer experiences

Smart Assist

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 Smart Assist to glean insights about the customer and determine the best course of action in the conversation.

Smart assist from Zendesk

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, Smart Assist helps agents do their jobs more efficiently, removing the guesswork and repetitive manual tasks. It makes interacting with customers easier with intuitive tools and suggestions that are accessible, which reduces pressure on agents who are experiencing higher volumes of requests and customers who are facing more complex challenges.

AI adds up to savings

On average, Intelligent Triage and Smart Assist can save between 30 and 60 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 Smart Assist can save between 30 and 60 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.

Zendesk AI tools enable companies to focus effort where it really matters. It’s easy to implement, so teams can scale their operations along evolving customer expectations and see value right away. It gets smarter over time with feedback from your agents, saving time and money while allowing them to focus on meaningful interactions.

And best of all, it’s already here.

Zendesk AI: Superpowers for customer service teams

Find out more about how AI is being used to create amazing customer experiences

Zendesk AI: Superpowers for customer service teams

Find out more about how AI is being used to create amazing customer experiences

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