Skip to main content

Article 4 min read

Using AI to turn your service team into inside sales reps

Customer interactions are revenue-generating opportunities when CX agents have the right tools to boost conversion rates and increase average order values.

By Caitlin Keohane, SVP Global Customer Advocacy, Zendesk

Last updated October 5, 2023

Amid higher inflation rates and lingering concerns about a worldwide recession, consumers are in a bit of a slump. The first half of this year might have looked rather promising in certain parts of the world given consumer spend despite the economic climate, but the second half might look very different.

“There are ongoing economic challenges and questions, and the pace of consumer spending growth is becoming incrementally slower,” says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the National Retail Federation. “The stockpile of savings accumulated during the pandemic is dwindling and is no longer providing as much spending power as previously available.”

Consumer spending is also set to slow down for European countries, as the European Union lowers its forecast for this year and next year’s economic growth. Current inflation rates are influencing consumer spending, especially on non-essential items, such as fashion and restaurants.

Consumers might not be splurging on certain items, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve stopped purchasing altogether—however, it does mean that they’re going to be a lot more selective about their purchases. With over 80 percent of customers more likely to purchase an item after a good service experience, investing in ways to improve these experiences will be key. The companies that position their service teams to resolve customer queries quickly and also act as sales reps will be the ones that come out of this economic downturn thriving.

It’s all about relationships

If your company plans to invest in customer relationship management (CRM), it won’t make much difference if your customer service agents ignore the letter “R.” The relationship that customers have with a brand is everything—agents who understand this are better able to minimize churn, increase repeat purchases, and upsell.

However, agents won’t be able to deliver superior service experiences without the right tools in place. This is why it’s critical to invest in certain artificial intelligence capabilities. Customers are starting to see the benefits of AI, too—75 percent of them believe that AI improves customer service quality and efficiency. For instance, AI can help save time on each customer request by automatically classifying, prioritizing, and routing issues to the right agent or group of agents.

When CX agents can relate to customers in a way that truly represents the brand, they’ll naturally drive additional revenue to the business. And if agents have a platform that makes it easy to track all points of the customer journey, it’s a natural progression for support agents to act like sales reps.

Turning your AI into a sales rep

While there are many ways companies can train their agents to identify upselling opportunities, companies can also get creative and train their AI to do the same.

Advanced bots, for instance, can understand customer intent and sentiment, which enables them to deliver better and more helpful service experiences. Additionally, when a customer is looking to purchase a specific product, advanced bots can pop up and suggest complementary items based on the shopper’s buying history and personal preferences.

Being proactive with your chatbots can go a long way, especially in today’s climate. Personalized service is one of the best ways to boost your sales while remaining cost efficient. And when you provide easy, smooth, and personalized service, customers are bound to stay loyal to your brand.

How Dorm Room Movers turned conversations into conversions

Gen Z and millennials are on the move, and Dorm Room Movers is their one-stop shop for storage, moving, and shipping services. Founded in 2007, Dorm Room Movers has successfully moved over 85,000 college students across the United States.

With a focus on friendly and reliable service, Dorm Room Movers’ support team connects with students and parents over email, messaging, text, voice, and social media (including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). All these channels keep the CX team busy: Agents engage in up to 1,000 messaging conversations per month.

“Zendesk has simplified and streamlined support so messages from all channels come into one place,” explains Steve Lacoss, Dorm Room Movers’ Supervisor of Production. “Agents get a full picture of the customer issue and can move conversations to the next level without asking customers to repeat their story.”

With a centralized platform, agents are better able to turn conversations into sales. They can pick up the conversation thread exactly where they left off, with all the ticket details visible so the connection never feels interrupted. This enables agents to build deeper relationships with customers by effectively responding to and asking questions, and educating them on the company’s services. As a result, the support team has increased the lead conversion rate by 79 percent.

“Zendesk messaging gives customers a right-now feeling that someone is paying attention to their needs, which builds positive relationships,” says Lacoss.

Fostering those customer relationships means Dorm Room Movers has happy clients. “Our satisfaction scores have substantially improved year over year,” Lacoss says of the gain. “We went from 77 percent in 2021 to 85 percent in 2022.”

Rev up your reps

Agents who regularly provide exceptional CX can take that enthusiasm one step further and close sales. Encouraging personalized, conversational service will empower your agents to solve customer service issues and add a little ka-ching to your virtual cash register.

See how you can get the highest return on your service investments to save money and time.

Related stories

2 min read

Revolutionizing fintech: Unleashing efficiency and innovation with Zendesk AI

Fintech leader InExchange is achieving unprecedented efficiency, agent productivity, and savings with Zendesk AI.

1 min read

What is customer intent? A complete guide

Customer intent goes beyond what customers say—it's what they truly need. Read our guide to learn how AI can help you better understand customer intent.

5 min read

Retail’s next frontier: Elevating customer experience with Zendesk AI

Discover how retail businesses are modernizing CX, delivering personalized services, and boosting efficiency and savings with Zendesk AI.

8 min read

How to build a QA scorecard: Examples + template

A QA scorecard can help you reduce customer churn and boost agent performance. Learn why it’s important and download our scorecard template below.