Transforming Customer Service Strategy: Being Proactive with AI

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What happens when a brand fails to adapt to the shifting model of customer service strategy?

Looking at today’s market, plenty of leaders have stagnated due to a lack of innovation. Delta, anyone?

Add to that the inability to meet evolving customer needs, and big brands are particularly susceptible to stagnation. For a successful customer service strategy, brands need to not just match their customers’ pace, but ideally, stay a step ahead.

Let’s explore a few ways to do that.

The Antiquated Customer Service Strategy

Customers are the lifeblood of any thriving business. Yet, looking at customer service and support, and the enterprise technology being used, the stagnation in strategy becomes glaringly evident.

Despite the focus on “digital transformation” over the past decade, it’s shocking to see today’s contact centers. They mostly resemble those ten plus years ago. Yikes.

I get it: Driving innovation at a massive scale is costly, and replacing old legacy systems is both challenging and costly.

We’re all facing the constant push to minimize costs and enhance efficiencies.  Therefore, I see how it’s tempting to maintain the status quo rather than innovate. (“But we’ve always done it this way!”)

However, your consumers are continuously evolving, and so too is the pace of innovation.

Called Out & Missing Out

Many large brands are trying (unsuccessfully) to grapple with customers who publicly express their views, emotions, and knowledge about the brand’s customer experience. Things like leadership, products, services, online reviews, and brand conversations are all open to public scrutiny.

Regrettably, too many businesses don’t know what to do with this wealth of customer feedback. Additionally, these conversations aren’t often shared with the customer service agents who interact with customers daily.

Because of that, care agents are left to respond reactively to inbound customer calls, emails, or online messages while in the dark about wider customer sentiment.

Furthermore, the journey from an outdated customer service strategy to a proactive one requires more than just adding a website bot for customer support. Bots can go bad when it comes to CX.

If your customer service strategy lacks…

  • Dynamic AI
  • Customized workflows
  • Notes with context of conversations across all digital channels
  • The ability to route customers appropriately
  • Humans when asked for/needed

… you’re barely making progress and in jeopardy of becoming extremely out of touch.

The Evolution of Customer Service

Since the 90s, there have been three phases in the evolution of contact center strategies.

  1. Legacy on-premise systems
  2. Cloud-based solutions
  3. Omni-channel solutions

While I definitely appreciate the progress, it’s even more crucial to envision where customer service is going.

Over two decades ago, customer service functions were isolated silos. Then, in the late 90s and early 2000s, software-based systems rolled out, allowing customer service teams to introduce modern functions like email and chat. And from that, the first multi-channel contact centers were created.

In the mid 2000s we saw the emergence of the first virtual contact centers. These cloud-based alternatives marked a new era for customer service.

For businesses that adopted cloud support, the benefits were terrific.

  • Cost savings
  • Improved interfaces
  • Speed
  • Access to better/more data

However, even cloud-based support barely scratches the surface of improving customer experience.

The Future of Customer Service Strategy

The newest generation of contact center software is a game-changer, providing a radically different experience for both brands and their customers.

CCaaS Tools

Next-gen Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solutions are a key part of an effective customer service strategy.

Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) is a cloud-based customer experience solution that enables companies to utilize contact center software hosted in the cloud.

Instead of owning and maintaining their own physical call center infrastructure, companies can subscribe to a CCaaS provider to manage their customer interactions. This can span across various channels, including voice, email, chat, social media, and more.

Benefits of CCaaS:

  1. Scalability: Companies can quickly scale up or down based on their needs without worrying about infrastructure limitations.
  2. Cost-Effective: Reduces the need for capital expenditure on infrastructure and maintenance.
  3. Flexibility: As it’s cloud-based, agents can work from anywhere, providing greater flexibility and supporting remote work.
  4. Integration: Many CCaaS solutions can integrate with other software like CRM, ticketing systems, and more.
  5. Up-to-date Technology: Providers frequently update their software to include the latest technologies, ensuring companies have access to the newest features without manual upgrades.

These tools take your from reactive to proactive;  you’re not just waiting on inbound calls. CCaaS systems actively tap into the plethora of publicly available customer data to gain insights about customer needs, wants, and thoughts.

Customer service strategies fueled by insights can dramatically improve the customer experience. Every negative review can be viewed as a ticket for resolution, every harsh tweet a chance to build advocacy, every interaction a sales opportunity (our favorite part of our Care Squared Training!).

AI for Data Analysis

Dynamic AI uses automated Business Intelligence technology to make it easier to deliver real-time dashboards, reporting, and query analysis. Predictive analytics is one area that will be HUGE.
For example, take a look at this chart produced by Akkio, where the data sample given was about employee attrition. The data sets given included things like:
  • # of hours of training provided
  • Job title
  • Years of experience
  • Salary range

The AI in Akkio’s tool looked at the data set and predicted which employees stayed and which were at risk of leaving.

Akkio AI Proactive Customer Service Strategy

As you can see, training — specifically the number of hours of training — are crucial to employee retention. And although this is a different use case, you can use this type of AI modeling to help with your customer service strategy.

It’s this type of AI that sits at the core of a leading customer service strategy, enabling brands to proactively identify relevant discussions, swiftly analyze massive volumes of data, and engage customers on their preferred digital channels.

While human interaction remains a top option, customer analysis with dynamic AI allows quicker and more convenient problem resolution.

Many social CRM and social media software providers are adding this kind of AI to their suite of products.

Areas to Analyze with AI

To get started, focus on the following items when it comes to AI and CX.

  1. Dig into the details. AI reveals unnoticed details and provides insights that you might have previously overlooked.
  2. Understand key aspects of customer service. This includes empathy, resolving issues, and implementing necessary improvements.
  3. Identify primary reasons for customer complaints (aka “potholes” as I call them in my book). This process involves getting to the root of what causes dissatisfaction.
  4. Document real-time customer reactions. Ensure you’re capturing customers’ feelings and thoughts during interactions.
  5. Determine what distresses customers. Then prioritize addressing these issues based on their severity.
  6. Use NPS or CSAT to spot potential sales drops. These metrics can help prevent declines before they occur.

By using an AI-powered approach, just like we’re chatting about here, businesses can keep a real-time pulse on the customer experience.

And, if you want a sneak peek into some of the CX-related prompts we’ve been using, check out our free eBook: 15 AI-Powered Prompts to Supercharge Your Social Media Customer Service Game.

AI-Powered-Social- Media-Prompts-for-Customer-Service-b-squared-media

It’s not just about monitoring; it’s about churning out actionable insights that let service providers swoop in at just the right time, ensuring the customer journey is as smooth as butter.

Creating Seamless CX

As I mentioned in Conversations That Connect, proactive insights derived from a well-created customer service strategy can inform product development, marketing, and sales, helping to address common issues and reduce the need for service.

Time Reduced = Money Saved

As a result, when service is required, easily accessible self-service help or virtual agents are usually the best option.

Trust me, your customers do not want to call you. Self-service AI can provide smart solutions to common problems via bots or a menu of FAQs.

Customers are often happy to help themselves or interact with technology, as long as the experience is seamless. AND, as along as a human can be immediately available if things go haywire.

When an agent’s assistance is needed, brands need to be ready. A call or online mention (think: social media) often signals a particularly tough issue or highly frustrated customer.

Your agents need a system that preserves context from previous interactions across social, email, chat, and more, making it readily available for effective resolution. Traditional systems, whether on-premise or cloud-based, simply cannot provide this.

Exceed Expectations

As customers grow increasingly vocal about their preferences and demand personalized and round-the-clock communication, it’s crucial for companies to adapt their customer service strategy.

Simply meeting expectations means you’re settling on an outdated approach. To stay a step ahead, you’ll need a strategy that offers personalization, AI, social listening, and insights.

As you continue to revamp your customer service strategies, ensure you’re prioritizing customer happiness to stay ahead.

FAQs for Using AI as a Proactive Customer Service Strategy

  1. What does “Being Proactive with AI” mean in a customer service context? Proactivity with AI means utilizing artificial intelligence tools and technologies to anticipate customer needs, resolve potential issues before they escalate, and offer personalized solutions without waiting for the customer to reach out.
  2. How does AI transform traditional customer service strategies? To clarify, AI introduces automation, predictive analytics, and data-driven personalization to customer service. This not only enhances efficiency but also ensures a more tailored and positive experience for customers.
  3. Which AI tools can be incorporated into a proactive customer service strategy? There are several tools, including chatbots for instant responses, predictive analytics to forecast customer behavior, virtual assistants for multi-channel support, and sentiment analysis to gauge customer emotions during interactions.
  4. Is AI replacing human customer service representatives? While AI is automating many tasks, the human touch remains irreplaceable in certain aspects of customer service. AI tools are best viewed as enhancements that assist support agents to deliver better service, rather than replacements.
  5. What are the benefits of a proactive AI-driven customer service approach? Benefits include reduced customer wait times, more efficient issue resolution, personalized customer interactions, and the ability to predict and address issues before they become critical.
  6. How does AI help in understanding customer behavior? AI analyzes vast amounts of data in real-time, recognizing patterns, trends, and anomalies. This helps businesses anticipate customer needs, understand preferences, and tailor their services accordingly.
  7. Are there any drawbacks or challenges to integrating AI into customer service? Some challenges include ensuring the AI system understands complex customer issues, avoiding over-reliance on automation, and maintaining the balance between human and AI interactions to keep the customer experience authentic.
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Brooke B. Sellas is an award-winning Customer Marketing Strategist and the CEO & Founder of B Squared Media. Her book, Conversations That Connect has been recognized nationally and is required reading for a Customer Experience class at NSU. Brooke's influence in digital marketing is not just about her accomplishments but also about her unwavering commitment to elevating the industry standard of digital customer experience and customer marketing.
Conversations That Connect
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Category: Customer Experience, Customer Service
Tags: artificial intelligence, B Squared Media, Brooke B. Sellas, Brooke Sellas, business intelligence, Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS), customer care, customer experience, customer experience management, customer experience management tools, customer service, customer service strategy, customer support, customer support agents, dynamic AI,
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