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AnswerIQ Blog

AI is Taking Customer Support Jobs — Here’s Why That’s a Good Thing

Artificial Intelligence is transforming customer support teams across the globe


Okay, maybe the AI revolution isn’t all that dramatic quite yet, but AI takeover is a reality in nearly every job market in 2018. Technology experts predict
nearly half of jobs will be taken over by robots in the next decade in favor of more efficient, affordable labor.

Customer support is especially susceptible to automation. Issues plaguing the industry such as ineffective routing, human error ,steep agent learning curve and agent churn can all be remedied by a super-intelligent computer system, which makes this industry prime for AI usurpation. It’s true — AI is taking your customer support jobs, but you should be thankful.

How Machine Learning Enhances Customer Success

You might be scratching your head, “Why would I want AI to take agent jobs?” The answer is simple: you are underutilizing agent talents, and AI can make your CXM more efficient. AI is more than capable of taking over the repetitive, monotonous tasks that bog down agents and improve overall employee utilization.

Think about it this way: AI will, inevitably, take over a portion of agent responsibilities — primarily self service tasks such as typical “how to’s.”

But, that’s a good thing. AI takeover means agents can be used in more meaningful and rewarding roles. AI will give you the opportunity to make your CXM better — not by firing agents, but by making them better.

Improve CSAT through automation

To understand why the AI takeover is actually beneficial for the industry, and will come at no cost to agent jobs, let’s explore how machine learning and automation streamline CXM workflows.

Your CXM isn’t as efficient as it could be, and that’s harming CSAT scores. One study found that, for nearly all customers, the most important factor of the customer support experience is receiving an answer quickly. If your agents are spending valuable time resolving issues that could’ve been handled by AI, are you really providing timely resolutions?

Without AI, agents waste time on simple, repetitive tasks that could have easily been automated and expedited. Repetitive and monotonous work such as ticket triage or password resets require little to no agent interaction, so why relegate these basic tasks to highly-trained support agents? Jobs like these, which can be easily handed-off to an intuitive AI system, bog down agents, negatively impact handle times and tank CSAT scores.

While common, simple tickets can be delegated to AI, does that come at the expense of customer experience? Actually no — emerging natural language processing technology learns from previous agent interactions, and adapts to customer needs. AI is able to offer refined answers — with human-like efficiency — so CSAT scores are not sacrificed.

What to do with the agents?

AI is capable of taking over simple agent tasks, thereby alleviating the burden of repetitive tickets, but what about the agents? Where do the newly relieved agents focus their attention?

In the wake of AI integration, agents will be challenged to implement creative, compassionate resolutions that only a real-life human could craft. Agents unfettered by menial tasks should refocus their energy towards tickets that require multiple system connections and human intelligence. Agents can then refine resolutions through added empathy, connection and creativity. The bottom line is customer support agents possess an invaluable asset that can never be replaced by AI: the human touch.

With the help of AI, agents can focus on tickets that require extra interpersonal attention rather than resolving the same, simple issues over and over. A 4,000-person study on customer experience found that “agent empathy” ranked as the most important factor that can make or break an agent interaction.

AI integration promotes productivity and reduces attrition for customer support agents. Through AI, agent work will become more specialized and valuable while, in the meantime, customers will receive efficient resolutions for simple inquiries and more in-depth, personalized attention for the difficult ones.

Getting up to speed on agent onboarding

The idea of transitioning agents to new responsibilities probably makes your skin crawl. Everyone knows that onboarding for customer support is a nightmare, so the prospect of training agents on new processes might be enough reason to avoid AI integration altogether.

Training videos are ineffective, and new agents must endure a relentless of period of trial and error before becoming familiar with team macros. Agent onboarding is as frustrating as it is detrimental to CSAT scores.

Customer support as a whole is plagued by high turnover — an example of tragic irony considering the difficult process of onboarding new agents. In recent years, the average agent turnover rate has hovered around 30 percent. But, there’s a better way.

AI for customer support makes onboarding easy by giving agents valuable ticket context. Instead of depending on outdated videos, agents can jump into customer calls and use AI features as a safety net. AI tools such as recommended responses give agents a historically-proven road map to follow. When faced with an unfamiliar customer inquiry agents can default to a validated template. When augmenting agents with AI, they will be more comfortable to take on harder tickets

The question on everyone’s mind: what will AI do to customer support? While AI for customer support is poised to take over this year, CXM managers stand to profit from the emerging technology if they recognize the value of automating redundant processes and augmenting agent interactions through AI. Whether you’re making current agents better, or onboarding new ones, AI gives customer support teams the tools they need to succeed.

See the future of customer support for yourself. Sign up for the AnsweriQ free 30-day demo to learn more about why AI is becoming the new standard for customer support systems.

Topics: AI, Customer Support