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Article 8 min read

AI agents: A guide to the future of intelligent support

AI agents can understand and resolve even the most sophisticated customer issues. Learn how they can boost customer satisfaction, improve service efficiency, and drive revenue.

Da Hannah Wren, Staff Writer

Ultimo aggiornamento June 28, 2024

What is an AI agent?

AI agents are AI-powered bots that can autonomously resolve a wide range of customer requests, from simple inquiries to complex issues. They automatically detect what customers are asking for and their sentiment when they reach out and respond in a way that reaches a resolution every time. AI agents go beyond the capabilities of traditional bots, operating independently or in collaboration with human agents.

You may know TaskRabbit as the online marketplace that connects freelance labor with local demand. As TaskRabbit expanded into more countries, its customer service volume surged by 60 percent, reaching 158,000 tickets per month. However, the support team effectively managed this increased demand and maintained high customer satisfaction by launching an AI agent.

Unlike traditional chatbots, which can frustrate customers with their limited capabilities, AI agents are designed to offer more human customer service. They understand customers’ questions and sentiment to provide fast, personalized support. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2024, 69 percent of organizations believe generative AI can help humanize digital interactions. Furthermore, 53 percent of consumers report that in a few years, they will prefer interacting with AI-powered agents due to a lack of errors.

AI agents excel in autonomously resolving complex issues, but they can also work with human agents seamlessly, benefiting customers, agents, and admins alike. As you move into the AI agent era, our guide details everything you need to know about the future of intelligent support.

More in this guide:

How does an AI agent work?

When a customer asks a question, AI agents automatically recognize the intent. Based on the topic, the AI agent either looks for the information in the company’s knowledge base or, for topics that require more personalization, guides them through a conversation flow.

AI agents are built on AI models trained on CX data using machine learning (ML) algorithms, natural language processing (NLP), large language models (LLMs), and various other AI technologies to continuously refine and enhance their responses. However, it’s important to recognize that not all AI systems are created equal. Effective AI for customer service needs to be specifically designed for that purpose. Only AI that has been trained on billions of customer interactions possesses the capability to instantly identify what customers need and effectively collaborate with human agents.

For example, the proprietary, industry-leading AI models from Zendesk were purpose-built for CX to foster human connection. These AI agents are experts in customer service from the outset, providing accurate, personalized support without any coding or engineering help required.

Types and use cases of AI agents

AI agents are incredibly versatile, with virtually endless use cases. Here are a few examples of different types of AI agents and how businesses use them.

Type of AI agent
Use case
Customer serviceAI agents answer FAQs, troubleshoot issues, and even process refunds, giving human agents time back to build stronger customer relationships.
IT supportAI agents can troubleshoot technical issues like password resets and VPN access and automate repetitive tasks.
HR supportAI agents can answer employee questions about benefits or company policies, automate onboarding processes, and pre-screen job applications.
Sales and marketingAI can use real-time data to recommend new products or upgrades based on customer behavior and history.
HealthcareAI agents can assist with appointment scheduling, answer basic health questions, or connect to the appropriate department based on the health concern.
FinanceAI can automate fraud detection, personalize investment recommendations, and streamline loan applications.
Retail and e-commerceAI agents can track orders and provide personalized status updates, prompt return label creations, answer product questions, recommend items based on purchase history, and personalize the shopping experience.
TravelAI agents can help book flights and hotels, answer travel-related questions, and suggest personalized itineraries.
TelecommunicationsAI agents can deflect network outage questions by providing personalized, immediate support.
Entertainment servicesAI agents can answer questions about specific content available within a subscription service.

No bot compares to AI agents

Zendesk AI agents have a knack for the customer experience and know how to solve all sorts of interactions—even the most complex. They work well with human agents and deliver on the promise of instant, personalized service.

How businesses are using AI agents

CX trends report stat

Businesses are increasingly leveraging autonomous AI agents to transform both the customer experience and employee experience (EX). Here are a few ways your company can use AI agents to benefit your customers, human agents, support admins, and, ultimately, the entire organization:

  • Improve efficiency and productivity: AI agents can handle complex requests without a human agent ever needing to get involved, giving your support teams valuable time back to focus on more meaningful work. These intelligent bots can also gather information, organize ticket backlogs, automatically send CSAT surveys after interactions, verify users, and more to reduce manual work for your human agents.
  • Offer nonstop service: AI agents can provide 24/7 support, ensuring customers always have a first line of assistance regardless of the time zone. This improves customer satisfaction and loyalty allowing businesses to handle increased support volumes cost-effectively during growth periods and busy seasons.
  • Enhance personalization: AI agents integrate with your backend systems and use customer data, like purchase history, preferences, and behaviors, to personalize responses. They can also send human agents key details about the customer, like their intent and sentiment, to help the agent tailor their responses to specific customer needs.
  • Provide admins with actionable insights: AI agents can analyze customer conversations to identify trends and areas where businesses can improve support operations. They can suggest specific questions they can handle the best, letting admins know what to automate to address customer needs proactively.
  • Reduce operational costs: By resolving a majority of customer requests on their own, AI agents can significantly reduce the workload on human agents. This translates to lower operational costs for businesses, allowing them to invest resources in other areas.
  • Work under a layer of trust: With the right controls in place and ephemeral use of data, AI agents are optimized to answer customers in the most accurate and protected way possible.

AI agents not only resolve issues independently but also assist human agents, streamlining the path to resolution for your customers and ultimately providing a more elevated customer experience.

The future of artificial intelligence agents

An artist illustrates a quote about AI agents from the Zendesk CEO, Tom Eggemeier.

We are moving towards a future where AI plays a role in every customer interaction, with 80 percent of inquiries expected to be resolved autonomously—without human intervention. AI agents are rapidly evolving and becoming more accessible, so you no longer need to sacrifice customer connection for efficiency or compromise quality for cost. The right AI-powered CX solution can deliver on all these aspects simultaneously.

AI agents are becoming adept at crafting highly personalized customer journeys, growing more sophisticated by the day. Seventy-five percent of consumers who have experienced generative AI technology believe it will change how they interact with companies, according to our CX Trends Report. As AI continues to learn and develop, it opens up endless possibilities for elevating the customer experience.

During this era of AI-enhanced customer experiences, it’s crucial to stay focused on what’s truly important: the human on the other end of the interaction. Selecting AI solutions that genuinely understand your customers is key. By recognizing the humanizing power of AI, you can create proactive, efficient, empathetic, and authentically human experiences that benefit your customers, agents, admins, and every person they touch.

Frequently asked questions

Choose the most autonomous AI agents in the industry

Zendesk AI agents are the most autonomous AI-powered bots in the industry. They can take care of a customer’s entire request from start to finish, handling up to 80 percent of your interactions. Unlike other solutions, our AI agents are experts in customer service and purpose-built to enhance human connection, which means they are designed to understand complex questions and deliver fast, accurate, and personalized support.

With AI that knows exactly what your customers need before they do, gets smarter and better over time, and doesn’t require technical expertise, Zendesk is helping businesses deliver AI-powered customer experiences that are more authentically human.

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