Whether through self-service chatbots or using data to fuel a more personalized experience, AI has an impact on customer service.
Businesses have used AI/automation tools in support for years, while others have been prompted to adopt it from the recent AI boom.
Whether you’re new to AI or looking to update your current strategies, read on to learn about the current state of AI in customer service featuring new data from customer service professionals about their attitudes towards AI, how it’s already being used, and future outlooks.
Table of Contents
- How do customer service professionals feel about AI?
- How is AI used in customer service?
- Benefits of AI in Customer Service
- Concerns and Challenges with AI in Customer Service
- The Future of AI in Customer Service
How do customer service professionals feel about AI?
Leveraging AI helps service professionals be more productive, offer round-the-clock support, and deepen relationships with customers.
Kieran Flanagan, CMO at Zapier, said on a Marketing Against The Grain podcast episode that customer support is an obvious place where AI offers a better experience because it can leverage a significant amount of data and company information to help customers and bring answers to their questions. He says, “In an AI world, support is live 24/7. And it probably has, over time, a better experience because an AI bot can have all of the information at once, where it’s really hard for an individual support agent to be able to have all of that information.”
With that being said, how do customer service professionals feel about AI?
Per our survey, 79% of customer service professionals say AI/automation tools are important to their overall strategy. That’s further broken down into 56% B2B and 54% B2C service people. And a majority agree that it will greatly impact how they do their jobs in 2023.
62% of CS specialists also agree that AI/automation tools help them understand their customers better.
When asked about their views on how people should use AI/automation in their roles, most say it should be used, but people should avoid becoming overly reliant on it.
Check out the slideshow below to explore some interesting stats about customer service pros and their feelings toward AI.
How is AI used in customer service?
The most common AI/automation tools used to provide customer service are:
- AI chatbots that respond to customer service requests,
- Generative AI tools that help write responses to customer service requests, like asking ChatGPT to write an email,
- Tools that route service requests to the right agent.
Of the most popular use cases, AI chatbots that respond to customer service requests are the most effective, followed by tools that route requests to the right agent, then generative AI tools that help write responses to service requests.
Although service reps have their preferred tools, the most effective tools overall are chatbots, tools that collect and analyze feedback, then tools that assist with routing to the right representative.
Service people who don’t currently use AI are most interested in tools that route service requests to the correct representative and help customers find answers to their questions independently.
Chatbots and Generative AI in Customer Service
As mentioned above, chatbots are the most effective AI/automation tool used in customer service, and 84% believe it improves the customer experience. When it comes to personalization, 46% say it offers a more personalized experience.
A majority of customer service specialists (B2B and B2C) say using generative AI to write responses to customer service requests helps create a somewhat more personalized experience for customers, and 48% agree they’re confident the information generative AI tools provide is accurate.
Most respondents also didn’t think that generative AI tools will significantly impact the creativity of those who use them.
Benefits of AI in Customer Service
The main benefits of using AI/automation tools for customer service are making service available 24/7, saving time and automating tasks, and reducing average handling time.
1. 24/7 Customer Service
In 2022, service leaders and agent-level reps reported that their biggest challenge was having enough time in the day. This data shows that AI is a beneficial solution to that need.
When AI tools can make service available 24/7, people have the time to focus on and prioritize tasks requiring a human touch. For example, a customer can chat with a bot while a rep can handle a phone call with a frustrated customer.
Chatbots are the most popular way to offer round-the-clock support. Customers can get their questions answered at all times, and the bot can direct them to a knowledge base of helpful resources for more help or schedule a call with a live rep when they come online.
2. Saving time.
CS pros report saving an average of 2 hours and 11 minutes per day using generative AI to write responses to customer service quests.
Those who use chatbots to respond to customer service requests save an average of 2 hours and 20 minutes per day.
Saving around 2 hours per day is a significant amount of time for reps to give attention to issues that require a human touch over an automated system, like escalation management.
3. Reduced average handling time.
Nowadays, customers want support immediately, so all customer service teams want a low average handling time. Customer support teams can use AI to meet this demand by deploying chatbots that quickly address customer service questions. Reps who aren’t left to answer all chat questions then have more time to address more pressing issues outside of a chatbot's abilities.
Call centers can also use AI routing tools to quickly connect customers with the rep best suited to meet their needs for a seamless process, reducing average handling time.
Concerns and Challenges with AI in Customer Service
The main reason CS people don’t use AI/automation tools is that consumers prefer to interact with a human over AI, so it can make the process of getting support feel impersonal.
There are other concerns, specifically around the accuracy of generative AI and the possible effects of AI on the workforce:
- 39% of customer support specialists are concerned about AI replacing their job in the next few years.
- 55% think Generative AI tools like ChatGPT sometimes offer incorrect information, while only 42% think they’d be able to tell if the information they get from tools like ChatGPT is wrong.
The most significant challenge for those already using AI/automation in their role is that it’s harder to maintain a more personalized experience while using AI for customer service.
The Future of AI in CS
History tells us that technological advancements have happened before and will continue as time goes on. With this, it makes sense that AI is currently a hot topic, but what happens next year?
By 2024, a majority believe that people will use some form of AI or automation to assist them in their role, whether it’s software with AI/automation built-in, generative AI, or using chatbots to answer questions.
Uniquely, 49% of CS pros who already use it in their role think that AI/automation tools will be able to do most customer service-related tasks completely independently.
And, for what it’s worth, only 34% think that AI will completely replace humans in the workforce (most business leaders don’t think this will happen).
Service reps are adopting AI but staying careful not to become reliant on it.
In summary, customer service reps are adopting AI but trying not to become overly reliant on it. It’s used most often to provide consumers with 24/7 support through chatbots, but people are also remaining vigilant over potential errors in generative AI and monitoring how it’ll impact the workforce.
That’s the state of AI in customer service. Curious to learn more about AI and its implications across different areas of business? Check out this learning guide for all things AI and topics like AI ethics, cool jobs that could be created around AI, and expert insight from business leaders.