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AI for Customer Experience: Helping Your Team Work Smarter

This article was published on December 20, 2022

A great customer experience is personalized, supportive, and timely. However, these factors don't easily scale — and customers notice when they slip in quality. Customers also expect a consistent and seamless experience on all channels, especially when they switch from one to another. Artificial intelligence can help with that, especially in the voice channel. Here's how AI for customer experience enables businesses to deliver on their priorities, while also helping their customer service teams work smarter.

Illustration showing a group of happy customers with their cell phones. Beside them is a cloud and an icon labeled AI, representing AI and customer experience.

How Can AI Take Customer Experience to the Next Level?

When a customer's issue becomes urgent, the reassurance of a human connection can have a profound influence. Since voice communications can provide that connection right away, customers will often choose that channel first or move to it when they're not getting the answers they need via chat, text, or another method. However, customers frequently run into time-draining, inefficient roadblocks while trying to get someone on the line — particularly when they're trying to switch to voice from another communication method.

AI for customer experience can solve pain points, not only connecting customers with agents more quickly but also making conversations far less stilted and impersonal. AI can even take the customer experience to the next level, proactively giving them access to the right expertise and answers in far less time than traditionally required. With AI innovation eliminating common customer frustrations and consistently delivering a higher standard of service on voice channels, businesses can make their customers feel heard every time they reach out.

How Voice Technology and Customer Experience Are Linked

According to the Vonage Global Customer Engagement Report 2022, 51% of customers are frustrated that the conversation they had in one channel wasn’t captured in another channel. When agents don't have the crucial context needed to pick up the conversation where it left off, they have to ask the customer to relate the information from scratch. This minor annoyance can become a serious waste of time when it happens over and over. In fact, 61% of surveyed customers are frustrated when they end up playing an exasperating version of phone tag, having to describe their issues to multiple agents and wait as they’re transferred again and again.

As if that problem weren't irritating enough, sometimes customers can't even reach a human at all. Sixty percent of the people surveyed say that there's no way to speak to customer service by voice or phone, while 61% report that even when they do connect with a customer service professional, either that agent can't answer their question or the right person isn't available. When this happens, customers may begin to question whether the company values their business enough to provide a high-quality customer experience.

Enter AI Assistants

AI for customer experience can eliminate these problems, enabling companies to confidently and consistently give their customers the help they deserve.

For example, AI can extract customer data from the customer relationship management (CRM) platform and share it with the agent who has been tasked with addressing an issue, giving the agent the context they need to quickly find the answer. This way, the agent doesn't have to ask the customer a series of introductory questions that sets the conversation off on the wrong foot, and the customer can enjoy a faster and more satisfying resolution to their problem.

AI can also help prevent the game of phone tag that often snarls the customer experience. Rather than sending customers into a general contact center queue and hoping for the best, AI-enabled skills-based routing connects customers with the agents who are best suited to handle the call. For example, the technology analyzes specific keywords and customer sentiment to route the customer to an agent that can answer their question or deal with their frustrations in a meaningful way. Rather than being passed from agent to agent and telling their stories over and over again — becoming increasingly frustrated with each transfer — customers can speak directly with the professionals who are most qualified to help them.

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Maximizing the Omnichannel CX with AI
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When call volume is especially high, however, customers may need additional options for getting the answers they need. AI can come in handy here, too. AI assistants can add information, automation, and self-service to conversations so that customers aren't stuck listening to hold music or opting to abandon their calls altogether. Conversational commerce workflows can be configured to provide front-end FAQs, authenticate users, and authorize payments. Customers then have a much greater chance of getting timely help even when all of the company's human customer service agents are occupied.

Ways That AI Can Affect the Customer Experience

AI is used to improve the customer experience in a variety of ways, from proactively answering customer questions to surfacing deeper insights about customer preferences and user-experience challenges.

Proactive Engagement

Businesses can use communications APIs to deliver chatbots right within their apps or on their product pages, answering customers' questions the moment they come to mind. There's no need for customers to open up a separate channel just to get the answers they seek. These digital assistants can provide personalized product recommendations or special offers, increasing customer satisfaction and inspiring more sales in the process.

Transformative Video Experiences

Businesses can also use AI-enabled analytics insights to transform the video experiences they offer, leveraging usage and quality of service data to improve customer engagement, streamline operations, and maximize their return on investment. These insights can also help businesses better understand customer preferences and resolve user experience challenges, raising the bar on the customer experience they deliver via this increasingly important channel.

Intelligent Authentication

AI can also automatically authenticate customers, helping businesses assess risk, avoid fraud, block fake accounts, and increase customer acquisition. In addition to improving risk management, this technology can also anticipate customer intent to provide an enhanced customer experience.

Helping Humans Work Smarter

Although customers appreciate how AI solutions make the customer experience more convenient, these digital assistants can also help their human counterparts work smarter. By proactively answering simple questions via chat and intelligent interactive voice response, AI helpers can reduce the volume of incoming calls so that human agents are not so overloaded. Customer service agents can deliver a higher standard of care to the customers they do speak with, improving first-contact resolution and customer satisfaction.

AI assistants can augment contact center teams in other ways, too. By automatically taking care of certain tasks like completing customer transactions, taking secure credit card payments, and escalating more complex questions to the right agents, AI can lighten the load for human agents and allow them to focus on their core competencies. When human customer service professionals are better able to use their talents, they're more likely to be satisfied in their jobs and provide excellent customer service every time.

Since AI assistants can perform all of their tasks on all of a company's customer engagement channels at scale, they can do even heavier lifting during peak periods when human agents would otherwise be overwhelmed. And because AI never sleeps, virtual helpers can keep assisting customers long after their human colleagues have signed off for the night. When contact center agents come back refreshed in the morning, they'll have a smaller and more manageable queue of incoming customer requests.

Using AI to Better Understand Customers

When customers reach out for help, they don't just expect a response — they want to feel like they're being heard. Beyond simply connecting customers with the right resources and giving them the information they need, AI can actually help businesses to better understand what they want right away. Natural language processing can automatically interpret customers' messages, determine their intent, and capture the context of their conversations with agents and chatbots. By preserving this context across all channels, a company can consistently deliver prompt, personalized, seamless service. No matter how they reach out or where their conversations go next, customers can rest assured that they've been heard and that agents know what they want. When businesses use AI to anticipate their customers' needs in this way, they can stand out from the competition and earn their customers' enduring loyalty.

Learn how Vonage AI Studio and Vonage Voice API can take your customer experience to the next level.

Rachel Weinberg
By Rachel Weinberg Content Manager, Communications APIs

Rachel Weinberg is the Content Manager at Vonage supporting the Communications APIs business. She is an experienced content strategist, writer, and editor with a passion for grammar and the Oxford comma. Rachel earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Hispanic Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and her Masters degree in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University. When she’s not working on content strategy, Rachel is a freelance theater critic in Chicago.

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