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How AI and CRM are Changing the Future & Face of Customer Service

There is a lot of curiosity surrounding the latest technological advancements, and Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) are no different. Much of this speculation revolves around how to use these innovations to enhance customer service efforts, which has become such a crucial component of organizational growth today. 

Additionally, the ongoing pandemic has also created a need for customer service teams to be more sensitive and cautious in their approach towards customers. 

But this empathy doesn’t come at the cost of efficiency. Customers don’t expect anything less than instant and customized service. Whether it’s product queries, account issues, appointment rescheduling, or general doubts, they want timely and correct solutions – always. 

In this article, we will review how AI and CRM can completely revolutionize the face of customer service, along with some specific challenges that implementing these technologies can create. 

AI and CRM are a match made in heaven 

The best part about pairing AI and CRM software together is how they help automate routine tasks, along with providing data-driven insights to human agents with minimal to no effort. Whether it’s businesses, government agencies, or banks, technology is helping the customer support teams of these organizations evolve from being simple support providers to a full-fledged growth engine. 

In addition to these time-saving and accuracy capabilities, another feature worth mentioning is better security. This is more important than ever as most, if not all, of our critical information has ended up online, putting us at a greater risk of getting hacked and data breaches. 

Luckily, this software and applications have been designed to cover these loopholes. 

For instance, online banking and bookkeeping, which have become a norm today, can be carried out through software that allows users to  take full control of their finances   by providing a direct connection to their bank accounts and bookkeeping facilities – all the while providing high security to protect their credit card and bank account information. 

In a similar way, you’ll find the several other online platforms and mobile applications that have boosted their security through measures like encrypting connections and two-factor identification. 

It’s the same thing for customer support. 

You see, waiting for the phone to ring or a fax to come through is only a waste of time since this isn’t how customers operate anymore. Instead, social media, forums, review sites, and communities have all become important parts of the customer service ecosystem. 

In this age of digital transformation, customer service is becoming more and more proactive. In fact, if you were to go through any predictions about the future of customer service, artificial intelligence is common among them all.  

The introduction of chatbots is one of the biggest examples of this. The automation of chatbots can perform a variety of tasks, including processing orders, making bookings, and directing visitors to specific pages. 

AI has also helped ensure customer service consistency across all platforms – be it on the phone, email, chat, and social media. Of course, there’s still a lot of scope for improvements, especially when we consider human speech evaluation and the application of emotional touch to complex customer problems. Still, both show tremendous potential in getting there. 

Automation = Better customer service

The advancements in AI and machine learning (ML) has improved customer engagement and customer service by automating and assisting traditional processes through powerful and trainable algorithms that can analyze and learn from massive amounts of data.  

Consider this: 70% of customer interactions will involve emerging technologies such as machine learning (ML) applications, chatbots, and mobile messaging, according to Gartner. This estimated percentage is a 15% percent increase from 2018.  

From connecting customer cases to agents with the right skill sets, to providing the required information that can help agents formulate better responses faster and precisely – AI is doing it all. It’s the functionality and ease of operations brought forward by these innovative advancements that makes it crucial for business leaders to be more open to the idea of embracing change and technology adoption.  

AI tools use this data to identify and implement patterns that can help the customer service teams relate better with customers. This will allow them to understand the latter’s needs – even before the customer realizes it – to gain a competitive edge over their competitors. 

Moreover, organizations can improve their online image further by giving UX/UI teams key insights into their target customer behavior so the former can apply visual design best practices to make websites, applications, and software programs less intimidating and more user-friendly for virtual communication. And this shouldn’t surprise anyone, as it’s estimated that a good 73% of companies are currently conducting or plan to conduct UX testing in the next 12 months. 

In other words, automation has plenty of advantages – most of them directly targeted to help keep the customer satisfied. Using AI tools like chatbots can make it easier to gather information, classify and forward customer cases, and solve common problems without any human assistance. 

The picture isn’t all that rosy. 

This human-machine alliance can fully automate certain communications where the customer interacts with the brand through chatbots and other AI tools. This can include connecting the customer with the right department or salesperson, processing payments, and so on. 

Plus, these algorithms will actually become more advanced upon the frequent use of these ML models due to better identification of data patterns. This, in turn, can be used for enhancing the whole communication process to make services more efficient. But yes, improvements are still required when implementing AI or CRM software. 

AI-assisted responses won’t be of any use when the customer asks something “out of syllabus. “ These can be doubts that are too complicated or questions that were simply not anticipated before. Human involvement will become a requirement for such cases. 

Imagine you run an online business where you sell different product types on an eCommerce platform that supports AI implementation like Shopify or WooCommerce. The success of your eCommerce website or digital storefront will be severely determined by the quality of your eCommerce platform and website builder.  

It’s not an overstatement for one to claim that an eCommerce platform of poor quality can damage your sales and tank your business. Especially if we take into account how nowadays most customers don’t even have the patience to wait around for slow load times or clunky interfaces. 

So, while your visitors will get personalized shopping recommendations with the help of these tools, they will require a human agent when they want to explain a situation in a second language or find it difficult to use a product. 

If you analyze our examples, you‘ll realize how both the scenarios require empathy – something which AI won’t be able to deliver. In both cases, a human representative will have to come into the picture, refer to a CRM system to get more customer purchase information, and then work accordingly to resolve the issue. 

Nevertheless, AI and CRM can help the agent create a better relationship with the customers by giving them data-based insights to make their response more personal and precise. Getting access to these business insights can facilitate intelligent conversations that will make the company appear more confident and leave a positive impact on the customer. 

The bottom line: Stronger together

Using AI and CRM to improve customer service will become mandatory for all organizations in the near future, especially for businesses who want to stay ahead in the competition. But when used in conjunction with human agents, it will help create better strategies for customer experience improvement by meeting each other’s shortcomings. 

The human agent can use these machine-learning models to provide better service since these models will be trained on previous, often similar, resolved cases and customer interactions. And of course, AI systems will help businesses save more time, ensure accurate and precise solutions, streamline processes such as data collection, background meeting calls, and so on – provided they are implemented properly. 

After all, when employees get access to the right tools, it’s the company that benefits in the long run. 

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Nahla Davies

About Nahla Davies

Nahla Davies is a software developer and tech writer. Before devoting her work full time to technical writing, she managed—among other intriguing things—to serve as a lead programmer at an Inc. 5,000 experiential branding organization whose clients include Samsung, Time Warner, Netflix, and Sony.