Only 33% of consumers believe they use AI-enabled technology. In truth, 77% use an AI-powered service or device.
AI and machine learning, as well as bots, are quickly becoming ubiquitous. Some believe it is only a matter of time before they fully replace customer service representatives.
But customer service has evolved with technology trends to become something new. Customer experience (CX) is now the most competitive space among brands. Most companies recognize that creating an invaluable customer experience is the best way to differentiate themselves.
This has spurred immense investments into AI. AI is now being used to augment messaging, route support inquiries, and help with call lead generation.
But AI is still in its infancy. It’s useful, but the customer’s experience still depends on the human touch.
Here are 8 reasons to make it easy for customers to talk to a person while leveraging AI.
1. Customers Still Want to Talk to a Person
61% of mobile users call a business when they’re in the purchase phase of a buying cycle. 57% of those do so to talk to a person.
It’s not that AI and automation don’t serve a purpose. They’re excellent at diagnosing common problems and answering frequently asked questions. But nothing can replace the trust that’s built between a customer and a representative during a phone call.
AI can be leveraged as a chat feature on your website, for example. You can even use an automated answering tool for incoming phone calls. But you don’t want machines to be the face of your brand.
2. Customer Complaints Are Best Handled by Humans
If a customer calls or messages because they have a complaint, AI can exacerbate the problem. Instead of speaking to a human who can address their problem directly, they must first get through the barrier of a bot or automated messaging system.
It should be easy for a customer or client to speak with a representative at the touch of a button.
A human can listen to the customer and acknowledge the problem. They can do a better job of assessing the facts and providing a solution.
But most importantly, a human can work to bridge the divide between your brand and your customer. Than can become that customer’s advocate.
3. Humans Can Make Exceptions
Building a remarkable customer experience is all in the details. Often, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to help clients and customers. When customers have special requests, it takes a human to address them.
Take a simple e-commerce transaction as an example. What if the customer wanted to return an item but had a family emergency and didn’t get a chance to until after it was too late?
An automated system may not be able to address this situation. But a human would clearly empathize with the customer. They’d be able to override the system and process the return.
4. Humans Can Understand Context
In the past, when a business received a phone call, there was no telling who was on the other end of the line. It could have been a supplier, a current customer, or even a fresh lead.
As AI advances, it becomes more useful in segmenting leads, prospects, and customers. But AI still can’t understand context the way a human can.
Part of delivering an excellent customer experience is personalizing every interaction based on context. You need to know where that caller is in their buying cycle, what their needs are, and other information. This goes beyond demographic information; you need to know that person’s goals and pain points.
You need to know what a day in their life is like.
Automation and AI are useful for serving up this information to humans. But ultimately, it’s a human who must synthesize that information and make a connection.
5. There Needs to Be a Hand Off
AI can be a useful tool for inbound marketing. It removes many of the manual processes that take up time, like segmenting leads. It can even tell you what to write your next blog post about.
More and more, AI and automation are being used at customer touch points. There’s clearly a benefit to this, but there needs to a seamless handoff from machine to human.
Furthermore, it needs to be evident to each lead, prospect, or customer that they are interacting with a machine.
Chatbots are the main culprit in this regard. Many businesses use chatbots, but they don’t always make their chatbots declare themselves. Instead, they put up a generic photo of a “customer service representative” and force visitors to wade through their AI before they can speak to a human.
Make sure your customers always know when they’re speaking to a bot and when they’re speaking to a human. Make it easy for them to switch between the two.
6. AI Can’t Close the Deal
Buying a product from Amazon is easy enough. Just log into your account, point, and click. But B2B sales are much more complicated. Often, there are numerous stakeholders who must sign off before a purchase is made.
On the sales end, AI can be used to facilitate adaptive sales techniques. For example, it can screen calls and present customer information to your sales representatives. It can even route customers to the appropriate representatives based on their context.
But ultimately, AI can’t get someone to sign on the dotted line. It’s possible to rely too much on AI. Assess your own processes to determine when AI should step aside and when the customer should talk to a person.
7. It’s Possible to Invest Too Much in AI
CX is such a hot topic that many organizations are investing loads of money into CX improvements. AI and machine learning offer some exciting possibilities for optimizing customer experience. But it’s still possible to overinvest.
One 2017 study found that only 20% of companies saw a significant ROI for their CX investments. It’s not the investment itself that makes the difference. It’s how you use that investment.
Before diving head-first into AI, consider how it will fit into, or change, your current customer experience strategy.
8. The Best Customer Experience Strategy is Omnichannel
According to one study, companies with the strongest omnichannel customer engagement strategies retain an average of 89% of their customers. Companies with weak omnichannel strategies only retain 33%.
An omnichannel customer experience is made up of many touch points. Some of them are machine-based, but others rely solely on humans. The point is to make it easy for your leads, prospects, and customers to connect with you the way they want to.
If you implement AI as part of your customer experience strategy, always offer leads and customers the opportunity to talk to a person. Make it easy for them to reach a person online, by phone call, or even by sending a text message.
If you can do that, you’ll have an optimal omnichannel customer experience strategy that leverages both your machine and human assets.
Does your business value phone calls? Do you process sales through a call center?
Call HyperTarget Marketing at 213-973-9905 to increase your call volume and to learn more about integrating AI into your sales pipeline.