AI-powered chat engines are the in-thing, but make sure you know what they can and cannot do before taking the plunge.

As customer service powered by artificial intelligence (AI) begins to steadily claim a huge share of the market in various industries, AI has revolutionized the way we conduct business. Reports say that more than 67% of customers in the world have used a chatbot—and this number will only go higher. Industry forecasts say that by 2020, nearly 85% of customer service interactions will be handled without a human agent. 

For business owners, this means contending with the growing inevitability of turning to AI to power business models. But should you? Let us take a closer look at what AI-powered customer service means for your business.

AI-powered customer service

Improved service: Did you know that about 44% of customers prefer dealing with chatbots than real humans in handling their concerns? Why? First off, chatbots can offer immediate solutions, without the elevator pitches or other unnecessary spiels. Also, they give customers an active role in resolving their own concerns, instead of sitting back and feeling powerless about the situation.

Reducing costs is one compelling reason for adopting AI in customer service. Every year, businesses spend about US$1.3T dollars on customer service alone—owing to the large numbers of customer requests sent annually. Using chatbots can radically reduce operational costs involved in managing customer queries and concerns. By 2022, they are expected to cut costs by about 8bn dollars! How? Chatbots can automate many processes involved in customer service through:

  • Allowing real human agents to handle more complex queries by simplifying the resolution process for repetitive customer service issues; and
  • Providing 24/7 help, which enables businesses to maximize the presence of real human agents and dedicate them to tasks that provide better value to the business

Viable tool for marketing

AI can also amp up your marketing efforts and provide avenues for sales. Just like real human agents, AI-powered help desks can offer:

  • Better customer engagement through personalized interactions and customized user journeys based on customer preferences
  • Prompt guidance through marketing funnels, boosted by their ability to handle queries as they arise and immediately direct customers to the next step
  • Wider business market reach through social media optimization; and
  • Enriched brand value through data-powered analyses and management of customer interactions

Finally, chatbots can be programmed for measurable optimization, so that businesses can evaluate and revamp their processes, as needed. Various markers can be used to assess the value and performance of chatbots, including user experience, usability, and linguistic capabilities. 

Adopting chatbots as your business lever

AI-powered customer service in the form of chatbots needs to be approached with the right mindset so that it can be successfully implemented and bring positive results. Here are a couple of key considerations to keep in mind if you’re intending to use chatbots as a business lever:

Keep track of trends: Staying on the same page as the industry allows you to get a good gauge of how chatbots are being used, so that you can adopt the best practices and forge innovations that will set you apart from others. In the years to come, the following are expected to trend up:

  • Chat and voice-enabled bots
  • Chatbot integration with the Internet of Things
  • Incorporation of chatbots on websites beyond social media pages; and
  • Marketing-specific development of chatbots

Invest in good design: The best chatbots are those that can offer the same quality service that you can get from the best human customer service agents. When designing them, make sure to equip them with:

  • Good linguistics
  • Alignment with your brand
  • Professionalism and courtesy
  • Comprehensive approach to concern/query resolutions; and
  • Seamless operation across multiple devices

With the advantages and tips for implementing AI-powered business functions spelled out here, you will hopefully be able to embrace this technology with realistic expectations in regard to your specific business needs.