When great customer service meets AI (in Australia!)

  • Simon Bowker
  • Solutions
  • 2023
  • Customer Experience
March 15, 2023

Great customer service meets AI: woman smiling while working on a laptop

AI is everywhere, thanks to the rise of ChatGPT, a generative AI chatbot launched last year that can answer questions with natural language responses. It represents a significant shift in customers’ expectations of AI and promises to transform how chatbots are used in customer service.

AI is already embedded in many daily processes, from recommending movies or shows that might interest you to mapping the fastest route to your destination. Even the autocorrect on your phone uses basic AI. Dr. Catriona Wallace, an Australian AI expert, says we interact with AI around 100 times a day—even when we sleep. So why not use it to create great customer service?

Already, AI is used extensively in the business world. Customer service chatbots are a good example. Many existing chatbots, however, are restricted to simple responses, based on predetermined answers. Trained on limited data, they lack the conversational capabilities that generative AI excels in.

Meeting customers where they are

A 2022 ServiceNow customer experience survey found 2.5 million more Australians used digital channels to solve queries in 2022 than in 2021. As chatbots become more effective, more customers will embrace the technology. How can you incorporate AI into your customer service strategy?

In 2021, nearly half (46%) of Australians said they preferred to speak to someone by phone to resolve a customer service issue. Today, only 33% of customers want to speak to a customer service rep.

Quote metadata:  AI excels in identifying and categorizing requests, which can help improve response times.

For many, the choice comes down to speed, the No. 1 factor in good service (69%, up from 51% in 2021), according to the 2022 survey. ServiceNow research found solving an issue via a brand application (0.9 hour) or online chat (1.3 hours) was approximately twice as fast as by phone (2.2 hours).

Another factor that determines people’s willingness to use chatbots is the type of problem they face. When dealing with a complex issue, only 19% of Australians prefer to speak to a human, about the same as in 2021 (20%). As generative AI develops, chatbots will be able to understand and diagnose complex issues more effectively, which will drive increased adoption.

The stakes are high

With people valuing speed of service more than ever before, organizations must respond or risk losing customers. This requires streamlining complaint resolution processes for a frictionless, fast, and simple approach. AI excels in identifying and categorizing requests, which can help improve response times.

The ServiceNow survey found the average time for an issue to be resolved is 7.3 days. Three-quarters of respondents said they’d consider taking their business elsewhere if their complaint wasn’t resolved in seven days. This points to a worrying gap, with many businesses testing their customers’ patience and loyalty.

According to a recent global survey by ServiceNow and ThoughtLab, executives from Australia and New Zealand understand the importance of prioritizing customer experience. Nearly half (48%) said maintaining customer loyalty is the biggest challenge they face in the current economic environment.

As consumers get more comfortable using digital tools to resolve issues, businesses should embrace chatbots and self-service to deal with high-volume, routine complaints.

Australian leaders are betting on digital tools to improve customer experience, with 70% prioritizing this area in the next two years. Identifying the right systems, tools, and processes to drive maximum impact will determine their success.

Meet your machine mates

As consumers get more comfortable using digital tools to resolve issues, businesses should embrace chatbots and self-service to deal with high-volume, routine complaints. This can benefit both employees and customers, freeing time for more complex work.

Investing in automation to streamline processes and remove bottlenecks can help:

  • Reduce or eliminate hold times

  • Divert calls to email or instant chat

  • Filter issues to direct customers to the right people and teams to resolve their problem

By embracing “machine mates,” organizations can increase speed while taking pressure off customer service teams so they can focus on the most important tasks.

Officeworks is one example of a company using AI to improve customer service. The office supplier introduced ServiceNow Virtual Agent to help in-store employees answer questions fast. Enabling employees to self-serve and fix issues themselves reduced the number of support calls by 67,000 in one year.

Business leaders looking to supercharge their customer service need to take steps to automate as much of the customer experience as possible. Using the right AI tools will bring new levels of customer service to an organization.

Find out how ServiceNow helps organizations elevate customer service.

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