Over the last year, we have seen more change and innovation in the world of support automation than ever before. Thanks to the launch of tools like ChatGPT, generative AI has vastly expanded the potential of high quality support automation. It has made it possible for chatbots to have unprecedentedly natural, human-like conversations.
Automation in general also has the capacity to highly improve the efficiency of backend processes like ticket routing, merging, and tagging. As customer expectations continue to rise, these developments are likely to become even more central in maintaining metrics like CSAT and NPS scores.
Therefore, it should come as no surprise that, according to a recent report by Statista, the market valuation of generative AI is projected to grow by $22bn in 2024. Let’s take a look at the customer service innovations we’re expecting to see this year.
Consumer expectations continue to rise
This tendency has been on the up for a few years now, but in 2024 we are seeing it taken to new heights. Not only do customers expect a very high level of service, but according to Salesforce,
“72% of consumers will stay loyal to companies that provide faster service.”
That’s because with market competition at an all time high across many industries, customers can easily swap to a different merchant or service provider instead of waiting around for you to respond to their queries. Getting them the help they need as quickly as possible is one key way to keep your customers satisfied.
But, customer satisfaction alone isn’t enough. To keep up with your competitors, you need to turn your customers into brand ambassadors, by thinking in terms of your net promoter score (NPS). Therefore, you’ll want to start tracking this metric, draw on your support team’s expertise as the best pulse check on customer sentiment, and consider adopting generative AI to offer quality conversational support at scale.
Gen AI chatbots take over the frontlines of customer service
Forget the frustrating chatbots of yesteryear because bots powered by generative AI kick things up several notches. Fueled by AI in the form of large language models (which enables them to offer multilingual, on-brand support), these powerful machines are increasingly being deployed at the frontlines of customer service teams.
LLMs are a new form of AI technology that powers text-based generative AI models, an automation concept you might be more familiar with. The tech is known for generating unprecedentedly natural, human-like conversations. An LLM-based bot can instantly perform translations, summarize text, and analyze the sentiment of the person it is speaking with. In the context of support automation, this means they can instantly provide multilingual support and even stay true to your specific brand tone of voice.
Plus, LLMs promise quick time to value and take only a few minutes to get started. That’s because unlike older iterations of chatbots, generative AI doesn’t require any training or prior technical know-how. All you need is an up-to-date knowledge source such as your FAQs page and a gen AI provider.
Learn more about what generative AI can do for your support
Gen AI-powered chatbots can be programmed to handle your team’s most common customer queries around the clock, while still delivering natural, conversational experiences. This frees up your human agents to take on the more challenging and complex customer tasks that require higher degrees of empathy and creativity. Particularly during seasonal spikes, businesses who use generative AI chatbots report that there was no noticeable increase in agent workload.
This was the case for TeleClinic, Germany’s leading provider of telemedicine. They’re well accustomed to both predictable uptick in requests during hay fever season, as well as unforeseen challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic. Automation helped them future-proof their support, provide faster service, and absorb surges in requests – without overwhelming their human agents’. You can read their full success story here.
Omnichannel is so 2021, the hype is now on hybrid bots
Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you’ll have noticed new customer service channels starting to open up across social media networks. Brands are now expanding their customer touchpoints onto the likes of Whatsapp, Telegram, Facebook Messenger, and many more. This still holds true, but it’s no longer just about how you offer support in your customer-facing interactions. And since the dawn of generative AI, automation has enabled support teams to scale across more channels without skimping on the quality of their CX.
But the latest hype in the world of customer service is now around hybrid automation. This relatively new process involves using a mixture of generative AI to start automating quickly, but combining it with manual conversation design to better customize dialogues as needed. This hybrid approach will enable support teams to automate much faster, meaning you will see much quicker results. But it will also help support teams to maintain more control over their bots, which can be useful when it comes to automating specific use cases that require more security, personalization, or attention to detail. Used together, you get the best of both worlds in terms of speed and precision.
What’s more is that support automation doesn’t have to be limited to customer-facing interactions. Backend process automation will free agents from their more mundane tasks so they have more bandwidth to focus on providing the best possible support when tickets are escalated. You can use AI to automate in your back end systems to do things like automatically route, tag, and merge tickets as well as add API integrations to provide a more seamless support experience.
AI innovation hits an inflection point as the market matures
AI is essentially overhauling the customer support landscape, as our own in-house trends research indicates that nearly 80% of CX leaders are considering adding a gen AI chatbot to their support in the coming year. AI providers have also adapted to this shift, and the products available are becoming even easier to use, as well as more tailored to the support context and by industry.
These AI tools, for example, are trained specifically on support interactions as opposed to more general written content published on the internet as is the case with ChatGPT. As a result, these bots promise better and more specialized capacities; they will both have higher accuracy and be cheaper to run.
The changing shape of customer service teams
As automation continues to make its way onto the contact center floor, the makeup of the customer service team itself is transforming. Human agents, now free from the tedium of the repetitive customer requests they had to handle in the past, are more available to handle the most complex (and rewarding) customer cases. This is also expected to elevate the role of human support into a white glove service. Not to mention, there are now new career opportunities for agents to upskill into bot managers.
Chatbot providers are also placing more emphasis on agent experience as they continue to develop their products in this rapidly growing industry. These features include easy-to-use analytics dashboards for monitoring conversations; automatically routing, merging, and tagging tickets; and in some cases even offering agents with suggested replies based on the initial automated support interactions. These monotonous tasks are correlated with lower agent satisfaction, so automating them is likely to help improve employee retention.
As we can see, the post-ChatGPT world has and will continue to shift the terrain in the field of customer support. The market for gen AI-powered automation tools is expected to mature and expand in 2024, meaning there will be more specialized offerings tailored to support in specific industries. It is also likely to result in better agent experiences. And all of this will culminate in higher quality customer support in an increasingly competitive business environment.