AI for customer service: supercharging the customer experience in 2024

Sara Shaughnessy

Sara Shaughnessy,

Content Editor at Front

2 January 20240 min read

Explore how AI is transforming customer service in B2B SaaS to enhance efficiency.

AI is revolutionizing the way all businesses operate, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the realm of customer service — especially for B2B SaaS companies.

In this article, we’ll cover how AI is reshaping customer support paradigms and driving unparalleled efficiency and cost-effectiveness for teams. Whether you’re a seasoned player in the AI game or just dipping your toes into the waters of automation, we’ll share the insights and guidance you need to navigate the AI revolution with confidence. 

The article will cover:

What is AI in customer service? 

  • How customer service teams use AI tools

  • What are the benefits of AI in customer service?

  • How to use AI to improve customer service

  • How to get started with AI in customer service

What is AI in customer service? 

AI in customer service leverages artificial intelligence technologies to enhance and automate customer interactions and support tasks, leading to improved efficiency, customer satisfaction, and cost savings for businesses. This includes chatbots and virtual assistants that handle common queries and tasks and natural language processing (NLP) for understanding human language. 

AI deflection in customer service refers to the strategic use of AI to redirect customer inquiries from live human agents to automated systems. This aims to resolve issues more efficiently, reduce the workload on human agents, and improve the overall customer experience.

For organizations looking to deliver strong customer service today, the integration of AI into service delivery models is imperative. It helps them work faster and smarter, doing more with less. 

How customer service teams use AI tools

Here are a few top AI tools teams are using today: 

Using chatbots and virtual assistants for automating customer queries: AI chatbots simulate human-like conversations with users, typically through text-based interfaces. They play a crucial role in customer service teams by automating routine inquiries, providing instant responses, and guiding users through basic troubleshooting processes. With customer service AI chatbots, teams can enhance efficiency, scale operations, and deliver consistent support 24/7. 

Front’s chatbot, for example, offers features designed to speed time to responses while maintaining a super high bar for quality. With AI Answers, your Front chatbot can source responses from a knowledge base to serve up accurate resolutions on demand. 

Leveraging AI in email workflows: Using AI tagging features in email, for example, streamlines manual customer service work and allows teams to spend more time on complex tasks.

Front’s AI tagging utilizes AI to automatically categorize and tag emails to make them easier to organize, search, and manage. As emails flow into an inbox, Front’s AI tagging system uses the message subject and body to determine appropriate tags to apply. This eliminates the need to manually tag, ensures consistency in tagging across emails, and enables faster search and retrieval of emails based on tags.

Using predictive analytics for anticipating customer issues before they escalate: Predictive analytics play a crucial role in preemptively identifying and addressing potential customer issues before they escalate. By leveraging historical data, patterns, and trends, predictive analytics algorithms can forecast potential pain points or issues that customers may encounter in their journey. These insights let organizations proactively intervene — either by implementing preventive measures or by reaching out to customers preemptively to offer assistance or resolution.

Utilizing generative AI for composing and summarizing messages: Generative AI is increasingly being integrated into customer service operations to enhance efficiency and reduce operational costs.

For example, AI Summarize and Compose capabilities in Front’s composer and comments sections assist teams in moving faster and working smarter. Teams can use the AI compose feature as a co-pilot to instantly draft high-quality responses, or use the AI summarize feature to quickly gather context on long conversations to help plan next steps. 

Integration of AI tools with existing platforms

The integration of AI tools into customer relationship management (CRM) and support systems is critical to improve workflows faster. Front’s omnichannel inbox, for example, centralizes all customer conversations and analytics, weaving AI throughout the entire experience. 

Customers appreciate an omnichannel experience too, and research shows they go back to brands that meet them where they are and reply from anywhere. For example, 54% of customers hold a more favorable view of brands that are responsive to service inquiries over social media. 

With customers interacting on more channels than ever, it’s critical that businesses prioritize seamless integration of AI with existing channels and offer a true omnichannel experience.

What are the benefits of AI in customer service?

From 24/7 assistance to personalized interactions, AI customer service tools are revolutionizing the game. Here are a few reasons why:

Always-on support: AI chatbots keep the lights on 24/7, meaning customers can get help whenever they need it, no matter the time zone or hour. With this continuous availability, customers are never left waiting for assistance. For businesses, maintaining a constant presence without the need for round-the-clock staffing leads to significant cost savings and efficiency. 

Speedy responses: AI systems can process and analyze customer inquiries in real-time, providing instant solutions or directing the query to the appropriate human agent if necessary. This rapid response capability drastically reduces wait times, leading to happier customers who spend less time waiting around for help. With AI, customer service teams can handle a higher volume of inquiries without sacrificing quality.

Spot-on accuracy: AI algorithms can analyze and respond to customer inquiries with a high degree of accuracy, using NLP to understand and address the customer’s needs correctly. This precision reduces the likelihood of miscommunication and errors, leading to more effective problem resolution.

Cost savings: By automating repetitive tasks, AI frees up human agents to tackle the complex work that matters. Routine inquiries, like order status checks or password resets, can be handled by AI, and human agents can focus on nuanced and high-priority issues. The reduction in operational costs and the improved allocation of human resources lead to a more efficient and cost-effective customer service operation.

Scalability: Whether it’s a slow Tuesday or a Black Friday frenzy, AI can handle the workload without skipping a beat. AI systems can easily scale up to manage increased volumes of customer inquiries during peak times, without the need for additional staffing. This scalability means customers receive consistent service regardless of demand fluctuations. 

Global reach: AI-powered translation means language barriers are a thing of the past. Serve customers in their native tongue without needing a team of multilingual agents. AI-driven translation tools can translate customer inquiries and responses in real-time, facilitating seamless communication with a global customer base. 

How to get started with AI in customer service

Ready to dive into the world of AI-powered customer service? Here’s the lowdown on how to kick things off right.

Start with a plan

Evaluate your needs: Take a good look at your business. What are your pain points? Where could AI make the biggest impact? Identifying these areas will help you choose the right AI technologies tailored to your specific needs.

Plan your integration: Create a roadmap that outlines the steps needed to implement AI across your support operations. This ensures a smooth transition and minimal disruption to your workflow.

Pilot projects: Start small with pilot projects to test the waters and fine-tune your approach. This lets you iron out any kinks and ensure that your AI implementation is firing on all cylinders before rolling it out company-wide.

Navigate potential challenges

No journey is without its bumps in the road. Here are a few hurdles you might encounter along the way with solutions to keep you on track:

Cost concerns: AI can be a game-changer, but it’s not always cheap. For many businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the initial investment in AI technology can seem daunting. It’s important to shift the focus from short-term costs to long-term benefits.

AI can automate repetitive tasks, allowing human employees to focus on more complex and creative aspects of customer service. This improves efficiency and enhances overall customer experience. Improved customer satisfaction ultimately leads to increased loyalty and repeat business, which boosts revenue.

Complexity blues: Break down integrating AI in your workflow into manageable steps. Here’s an example workflow with considerations for bringing on a new tool:

This week:

  • Identify pain points: Conduct a thorough analysis of your customer service operations to identify areas where AI can have a strong impact.

  • Research solutions: Look into AI tools and platforms that address your identified pain points. 

Next month:

  • Select a pilot project: Choose a small-scale project to pilot your AI implementation.

  • Gather a team: Assemble a cross-functional team that includes IT, customer service representatives, and management to oversee the project.

Next 6 months:

  • Implement and test: Begin the implementation of your chosen AI tool on the pilot project. Conduct thorough testing to ensure it integrates well with your existing systems and meets your needs.

  • Train your team: Provide comprehensive training to your staff on how to use the new AI tool. Ensure they understand both the technical aspects and the benefits it brings to their workflow.

  • Evaluate and expand: After the initial rollout, evaluate the performance of the AI tool. Gather feedback from your team and customers. If successful, plan the gradual expansion of AI integration to other areas of your customer service operations.

Employee pushback: Change can be tough for teams that are used to one way of doing something. Combat resistance by fostering a culture of innovation and providing ample training and support. Show your crew that AI is here to enhance — not replace — their skills.

For more insider tips on navigating the brave new world of AI in customer support, check out our article: AI is coming for the support industry — here are 5 ways your team needs to adapt. It’s your roadmap to success in the AI revolution.

Bring on the transformative impact of AI

AI is a catalyst for revolutionizing how businesses approach customer support. AI doesn’t just streamline processes; it supercharges them, empowering teams to work faster, smarter, and more efficiently than ever before.

But navigating the AI landscape can be daunting, which is why partnering with a modern customer service platform like Front is key. By harnessing the power of AI within a comprehensive solution, you gain access to cutting-edge technology and AI seamlessly integrates into your customer support workflow.

Written by Sara Shaughnessy

Originally Published: 2 January 2024

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