How Brands Are Using AI in Customer Service to Create Better Experiences

Artificial intelligence is ever-present in our lives. From finding the optimal temperature in our homes to playlist recommendations for our favorite music, the analog actions of humans are enhanced by AI on the daily, and these worlds are rapidly blending.

Conversational AI is walking lock-step with customer service operations in large industries like hospitality, entertainment, sports and tourism - industries where effective and efficient customer service could be the difference between a positive customer journey and a negative one - the razor-thin demarcation between loyalty to a brand and a bad Yelp review. 

According to Oracle, 80% of sales and marketing leaders are already using AI in customer service or plan to do so by 2020. Because brands seek to cater to consumers’ wants and needs by providing them with stellar on-demand experiences, embracing technology that scales the process is vital. Conversational AI enables businesses with physical locations to transfer the data they have to customers in the form of answers, quickly and concisely through a conversational touchpoint on the web, mobile apps, SMS, Facebook messenger and Google Assistant voice-enabled search. 

Service team leaders who integrate AI into their strategy see an increase in overall efficiency, benefitting from reductions in call volumes and time spent responding to basic customer questions. Customer-centric business can use AI-powered virtual assistants as the first line of defense, answering repetitive questions, escalating and routing calls, and collecting a ream of data along the way.  This frees up customer service reps to focus on solving higher value issues and questions. Sixty-four percent of agents whose organizations use AI are able to spend most of their time solving complex problems, versus 50 percent of agents whose organizations don’t. 

Not only is AI in customer service helping to improve organizational efficiencies, it’s delivering better experiences for consumers. More consumers are finding value in disconnecting from their devices and focusing on the here-and-now, rather than what’s happening on screen. While it may sound counterintuitive, AI-powered virtual assistants impact the enjoyment of physical experiences by delivering instant information to curious concert-goers, sports fans, and hotel guests, so they can go back to living in the moment and enjoying the show.


The Power of AI

Some experts declare that we’re in the midst of a fourth industrial revolution, and we know that without that original Industrial Revolution, the world would not be as advanced as it is today. The belief is that AI can have that same impact.

Artificial intelligence defined: the development of the thinking machine through computer software that performs the actions of human beings, such as visual perception, translation, speech recognition, and the biggest benefit for customer service-oriented industries, decision-making.

It’s tech that appears to be intelligent. 

Machine learning is baked into the natural language processing (NLP), developed to retain complex thought patterns, ones that can be communicated back to humans in consumable language and produce an enjoyable and meaningful interaction. 

 

The Impact of AI on Physical Experiences

According to a recent  PWC study, 80% of Americans point to speed, convenience, knowledgeable help and friendly rapport as the keys to a good customer service experience.  

When resolving an issue or looking for information, consumers prefer to engage with customer service via a 60-second text conversation rather than slog through a 10-minute phone call filled with user prompts, wait times and survey requests. One-third of brands have found customers prefer to complete a purchase without interacting with a human associate at all. By answering customer questions efficiently and effectively, brands minimize the chance of a customer seeking answers elsewhere, or just giving up. 

Keep their focus, and it's more likely you keep their loyalty.

Customer service is about answers and solutions, and easy access to answers comes down to how the information is organized. Physical venues and destinations have an abundance of internal information, but it’s a mountain of a job to consolidate it, parse through it, and organize it for conversational consumption. 

Chat bots are a common tool used to perform customer service at scale, but the chat bot is only as effective as the answers it’s provided. Conversational AI platforms, however, begin with answers, and then employ machine learning to build its near-infinite knowledge base through interactions with its audience, and cross-references every other inquiry submitted at that location. The AI also allows locations to automatically and instantaneously communicate with customers via web chat, apps, Facebook Messenger, SMS, Apple Business Chat, WhatsApp and other channels.

Consider the infinite amount of questions or needs an audience can have at a single event. Theatre-goers research dates and times, directions, and how to purchase tickets. Tourism customers want facility hours and operations, and to find out what time the next special event takes place. Entertainment seekers are looking for food locations, if the venue serves alcohol and what the gluten-free options are.

To find answers to these inquiries and many more, conversational AI allows consumers to send their questions via a messaging channel - virtually any touchpoint where they can interact with a brand’s content. They’ll be greeted with a warm hello, some prompts related to their request, and clickable options that help them find what they’re looking for. The capabilities exist to assist with logistics, offer deals of the day, explain policies and procedures, and even assist with a ticket purchase, all without leaving the conversation. Plus, an AI-powered virtual assistant is always on, making around-the-clock interactions in customer service a reality. 

Need a visual? Take this story:

Your daughter saw a cute video of sea lions, and pestered you to take the family to visit them at Riverbanks Zoo & Garden. On the drive over, your partner gets on Facebook Messenger and engages with the zoo’s AI virtual assistant. Tickets are purchased and the location of the perfect parking lot is loaded into the GPS - all through a single interaction. After you arrive and pop out the double stroller, the virtual assistant tells you when the sea lions are out in the exhibit swimming around and that the family bathroom is only steps away from the swimming animals.


Looking into the Future 

Over the next 18 months, the use of AI by customer service teams is expected to increase 143%. The immediate benefits realized through AI in customer service are increased customer satisfaction, increased brand loyalty, and repeat business. If customers know the service is exceptional, they will return, they will purchase, and they will spread the good news of their experience. 

Research from MIT shows the biggest operational gains for organizations using AI in customer service come from saving time, not necessarily saving money. Virtual assistants perform as automated customer service systems, built and trained with an abundance of data, that use AI to recognize and respond to customer requests whether by phone, voice or text chat. 

Beyond saving resources, AI-powered customer service provides a deeper look into consumers wants and needs, and empowers organizations to improve their service and products with data-backed insights. Virtual assistants gather real-time data, log thousands of inquiries and identify gaps in fulfilling customer demand. When a question has no answer and is asked more than three times, the inquiry is surfaced. The organization is then alerted of the need to build a better response, or they can take proactive steps to deliver the services their consumers want with the data to back up their decisions. 

With the power of AI, commerce turns conversational. By simplifying the purchasing experience, AI can influence the discovery of event tickets, drive traffic into the purchasing funnel, and keeps ticket purchasers in a brand’s owned channels throughout the customer journey, all while capturing valuable data. The technology increases the volume of ticket sales by making it seamless to make a purchase. Venues, teams, events, and artists are already enabling and expanding ticket selling capability by letting the customers search and purchase tickets directly within chat. 

Conversational commerce gives event attendees full control of their experience. Once in a venue or physical location, virtual assistants can perform order-ahead purchases. Through direct communication with the stadium, a fan can order food and beverage items within the chatflow, automatically pay, and complete the order as simply as if they were messaging a friend. The purchases are either delivered directly inseat or the customer can pick them up at their own convenience, skipping the long lines.

The Knowledge Management Platform from Satisfi Labs helps brands create more meaningful customer and visitor experiences. It has the ability to create deep knowledge bases, taking in data to be converted and organized using conversational AI. The platform takes in dynamic  content that can automatically change answers across any conversational touchpoint when information changes, say due to inclement weather, a cancellation, or open hours changing unexpectedly. The dynamic nature of the platform allows answers to be updated automatically, for brands to analyze responses in real-time, and lets us re-teach the system, making the larger network of virtual assistants smarter.  This last part we call the “Network Effect “ which allows visitor questions asked at one event to be remembered and taught to the virtual assistant to answer across all future events, making the virtual assistant an expert in all venue- and event-related questions.  

Ready to elevate your customer service strategy? Satisfi Labs can help you create the best on-demand experience for your fans, visitors, or customers with a conversational AI-powered assistant. Let’s start the conversation.

 

We partnered with Riverbanks Zoo and Garden, one of the largest mid-sized zoos  in the United States, to create a multichannel virtual assistant. To date, our  solution has assisted more than 50,000 unique visitors, decreased customer  service call volume by nearly 20%, and opened up a new source of visitor data  and insight for the marketing team. Learn more.