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AI Customer Support: Best practices and examples (2024)

Best practices and examples for AI customer support

AI customer support connects brands with consumers and boosts customer experience. That can be through following up on new leads, sending personalized responses to customer queries, upselling with product recommendations, and more.

It’s no secret that the AI industry is reaching record highs, with the global AI market expected to grow by 37% each year until 2030. But what are the best practices for AI in customer support? Aside from 24/7 support for your customers, there are many other benefits for customer service teams. You can leverage new ways to sell and develop stronger customer relationships. 

But, like any new technology, AI-based customer support must be implemented with careful consideration of your brand needs. In this post, we’ll cover the benefits, challenges, and best practices for AI customer support. Plus, you’ll find plenty of examples to show how AI could transform your customer service.

What is AI for customer support?

Using an AI chatbot for businesses

Customer service AI is one of the artificial intelligence technologies that automate and streamline customer service tasks. For example, through customer support AI chatbots, they can resolve simple queries automatically and free up your human agents. AI chatbots provide quick responses at all hours, with reduced human error and personalized perks for customers. 

But customer support AI isn’t limited to chatbots. Your business will also enjoy the benefits of sentiment analysis and fully-optimized omnichannel messaging. AI won’t replace your customer service agents. Instead, AI tools will seamlessly integrate with your team, giving them extra time and space to focus on more complex tasks.

What are the benefits of AI customer support?

84% of companies view AI chatbots as an important factor for B2C communication over the next few years. It’s no wonder that AI is becoming a popular tool in customer service, especially. But what exactly are the benefits? 

Fast and accurate 24/7 customer service

With customer support AI, providing 24/7 customer service is a breeze. AI slashes your costs and reduces staff burnout too, as there’s no need for additional staff or late shifts. AI responds as and when needed. 

Customers who work throughout the day often need a night-time response. With AI on hand, they won’t be put off by long delays. You also won’t have to worry about the accuracy of your AI chatbot. Its responses are all based on your internal help documents. And with AI’s guardrails and prompt engineering, you can ensure that your AI chatbot won’t send unhelpful data, such as competitor stats, either.

Improving efficiency through automation

When customer queries rush in, it’s easy for your customer service team to get overstretched. AI customer support boosts your efficiency by automating responses to customer messages.

For many businesses, the majority of their customer inquiries ask the same few questions - typically about pricing tiers or delivery dates. With an AI customer support bot, you can send personalized automated responses to these common FAQs. That frees up your human customer service agents to focus on complex queries and engage with long-term clients.

Personalized support and recommendations

With AI, generic chatbot messages are a thing of the past. AI customer support chatbots can “interpret” the context of previous messages with a customer. They also have access to data about your customer, including their purchase history and checkout basket.

AI chatbots leverage this information to provide personalized responses and recommendations. For example, let’s say a customer has explained their budget and requirements to your chatbot. The AI can then take this information into account when providing product recommendations.

Chatting with customers across multiple social messaging channels? Explore how you can integrate Shopify and access order details right next to the chatbox.

Adapt to customer intent and language

Whilst it would be ideal if all customer questions were asked clearly and in your own language, that’s not always the case. With AI customer service, that’ll never be an issue. AI customer support bots “understand” customer intent.

So, even if their question is not phrased clearly, your chatbot will still be able to find the right answer. Plus, there’s an in-built translator, so it can respond in many different languages.

Optimized collaboration with your customer service team

AI customer support works seamlessly with your customer service team. It can provide automated responses to many questions - but for more complex queries, it knows when to get a human involved. It also knows who’s right for the job, transferring the conversation over to the most relevant team member.

Your customer service agent won’t be thrown into the deep end, either. Tools like SleekFlow AI can produce a summary of the conversation, with important details, including the customer’s issue. So, there’s no need to scroll right through the entire conversation.

Create AI responses that mirror your brand voice. Learn how in our detailed guide.

What are the challenges of AI customer support?

Jasper AI message

Costs

Between hiring AI developers and training your staff, AI customer care can get pricey.

Understandably, that’s very off-putting for some SMEs.

However, AI software is making these solutions affordable for all businesses. There’s no need to hire AI developers, as the software is ready-built.

Accessibility 

AI is still very new, and it has a steep learning curve. Your staff will require training to understand the best ways to support customers through AI. If you’re not an AI expert, that means relying on AI developers to provide training, which can be costly.

Again, AI software is a great solution. Having an intuitive, ready-to-use platform with clear documentation can easily help you get started with AI customer support.

Time-consuming implementation 

Rome wasn’t built in a day - and neither was AI for customer support. It takes time to train an AI chatbot, but that’s often the time your company doesn’t have.

AI software like SleekFlow is pre-trained, so you can get started right away. You’ll also have a choice between ChatGPT, GPT-3.5, and GPT-4 for training your chatbot. Our chatbot also uses machine learning, so it will keep improving as your customers interact with it.

Platform integration

Your business uses many social media platforms to connect with customers. That’s along with customer relationship management and marketing software. With all these different platforms, it can be easy for an AI customer service bot to get lost in the fray.

Let’s say you’ve implemented an AI chatbot for Facebook Messenger, but this has no integration with your Shopify and social accounts. If human agents join the conversation, they will have to switch tabs or browse through various apps to access vital information on the Shopify account. It will be more time-consuming and lead to a longer wait time when they reply to customers.

Meanwhile, on SleekFlow, your social messaging channels can be fully integrated with Salesforce, Shopify, and HubSpot from the get-go. You can also use SleekFlow with WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WeChat, LINE, SMS, Live Chat and more to chat with customers, while easily retrieving customer details in the all-in-one inbox. 

Try using our WhatsApp AI chatbot and learn more about what you can do with WhatsApp marketing.

AI customer support best practices 

Artificial intelligence customer service clearly has many benefits. To provide the best service possible, it needs to be implemented well. 

Here are some best practices for AI in customer support to keep in mind.

SleekFlow AI

Use a hybrid model

AI is not a replacement for human customer service agents. AI should take care of the simple queries, whilst your human agents manage the more complex complaints. 

Aside from efficiency, this is also a matter of data protection. It ensures that conversations, where sensitive data may be involved, are only handled by human agents who fully understand its context.

Choose fully-integrated AI software

Both AI and customer service agents flourish with information. Integrations give your chatbots and human agents all the information they need to resolve customer queries and give great recommendations. Other than Shopify, Salesforce, and HubSpot, you can also integrate platforms like Zapier with SleekFlow to automate your sales, marketing, customer support processes. You can even incorporate Stripe to send an instant in-chat payment link for customers who want to buy straight away after talking to your agent. 

Test and train your AI

AI needs to be nurtured. Keep testing your AI to ensure it’s connecting well with your customers’ questions. Think about the goals you’d like to achieve with your AI customer support solution. Compile the documentation you want to use to train your AI assistant for customer satisfaction.

Select tools that meet your needs

No two businesses are the same, so ensure you choose the right technology for your brand. Simple, rules-based chatbots may work for some straightforward questions, but in most cases, you’ll need an upgrade to conversational AI for more human-like interactions.

Also, assess the resources you have in your company. Do you have a team of developers that can help you build and customize the AI customer support tool? If not, it’s best to go for a solution that can provide more assistance.

The product is always just 50% of the business. The other half is service, which is also very important. Such implementation can sometimes be complicated, and we don't have an in-house IT department. So, SleekFlow's attentive support during this process was very important.

Yalu

Yalu

Co-Founder, Momo Lifestyle

AI customer support examples

Need some inspiration to get you started? Companies around the world are leveraging AI customer service solutions to boost their efficiency and build stronger customer relationships. 

Lemonade Maya chatbot

US insurance company, Lemonade, has made a big impression on customers with its AI chatbot, “Maya”. Powered by conversational AI, Maya helps customers to purchase their insurance. She asks simple questions to obtain information from customers, which is then used to create a personalized insurance policy.

With her welcoming personality, Maya gives customers the feel of speaking to a human being - without taking up the time of Lemonade’s customer service agents. She can also upsell other policies to customers through her onboarding process.

Maya has given Lemonade’s customer service a real boost. She now takes care of 25% of the company’s total inquiries. Plus, within just three years from her launch, she’s sold 1.2 million insurance policies, both new and renewed.

Maya is a shining example of how AI customer service can not only match human support - but take it a step further too!

Heathrow Airport AI

AI chatbot at Heathrow Airport

Image from CNBC

As one of the most popular airports in the world, customer service operatives at Heathrow in London, UK are incredibly busy. Customers naturally have many questions about flights, luggage, and more. That’s why they’ve utilized AI for customer support to improve their UX. 

Heathrow is implementing AI with Salesforce to reply to queries and summarize customer support cases. Heathrow is also utilizing generative AI solutions from Capgemini, including personalized chatbots. Both Heathrow and Salesforce have highlighted how AI has improved customer service, as well as saving time and money for the airport. From international airports to start-up SMEs, customer service AI can streamline and support many different businesses.

Where to start with AI for customer support

When you start to implement AI in customer service, there are some key steps to put in place. Let’s take a look at these now:

Develop an AI customer support strategy

AI needs to be implemented within a broader customer service and marketing strategy. Think carefully. What do you want to achieve by using AI?

Be clear on your goals before making any big decisions. These goals could include freeing up time for your customer service team, increasing conversions, or simply achieving a more streamlined system.

Research and choose an AI software

AI technologies are all different, so you need to research carefully. Think about which tools and features would benefit your business the most. For example,

  • Does the software utilize natural language processing for realistic conversations?

  • Does it feature machine learning for improvement over time?

  • What platforms and CRM software is the software integrated with?

  • How easy is it for your customer service team to collaborate with the software?

  • Does it have all the features you need? e.g., translation for overseas customers

Understand your customers’ needs

Always keep your customers in mind as you put AI into practice. For example, AI chatbots can be very useful for resolving common customer issues. But first, they need to understand what matters to your customers.

Brainstorm with your customer service and marketing teams about any frequently asked questions and other customer pain points. These can then be used to train and develop your AI for customer service.

SleekFlow AI Chatbot

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