AI Agents Meet the New Expectations in Customer Service

"Good afternoon, how can I assist you today?" ?"Hello, why are there multiple service fees on my account?" "I'm sorry, I don't understand your request." "I'd like to speak with an agent." "Your call is important to us. The current wait time is two hours."

For most of us, this is a (frustratingly) all too familiar scenario, and it doesn't have to be this way.

Our fast-paced, tech-centered world has fostered the expectation of instant gratification. When we have questions, concerns, and issues with a company, we do not expect to wait for hours on hold. We do not want to be bounced around to different customer service agents, re-explaining our story over and over.

In a recent study by RingCentral, 43 percent of customers say they would switch to a competitor after only two poor interactions.

Enter artificial intelligence agents, powered by conversational AI.

Integrating conversational AI into customer service operations delivers measurable benefits. It offers valuable insights for companies striving to exceed customer expectations and gain a competitive edge in today's fast-paced digital landscape.

In an era where customer expectations are rapidly evolving, businesses need to adapt to stay ahead. To meet the rising demand for personalized, efficient, and frictionless interactions on any channel, conversational AI is helping contact centers meet these new expectations by delivering personalized customer experiences via AI gents, chatbots, and voice-bots.

As the industry continues to evolve, embracing AI agents will be pivotal for companies aiming to stay ahead, ensuring efficient, personalized, and cost-effective service delivery.

Generative AI or genAI, had an explosive entrance to the world thanks to OpenAI's ChatGPT. It can analyze and create new multimedia content, including text, images, video, audio, code, and more in seconds.

GenAI's ability to understand user intent, analyze sentiment and respond with mirrored sentiment, and create content such as an image based on a description, translate into other languages, rephrase text, or summarize text is exactly what conversational AI technology needed to deliver next-gen customer experiences. Instant, personalized customer service interactions, any time, on any channel can now be a reality.

Conversational AI alone can feel rigid and impersonal at times as conversation designers have to model all possible conversation flows and scenarios. This is a result of it being use-case-specific and built to stay on task. Luckily, the strengths and weaknesses of conversational AI and genAI perfectly complement each other.

GenAI alone is neither built nor suitable for stand-alone use in a service context for a variety of reasons. Yet its groundbreaking ability to generate natural, contextual, and personalized responses cannot be ignored. Here are a few deal-breakers for the stand-alone use of genAI in customer service:<

  • Responses are inconsistent and unpredictable;
  • It cannot integrate with third-party systems (e.g. CRM, CCaaS, etc.);
  • It is trained only on a static data set;
  • Output is not transparent and auditable;
  • It is not designed for your specific use case; and
  • It has no front-end for customers.

Conversational AI in customer service is designed to model service processes and orchestrate actions with natural language processing technologies. It creates a conversational interface with integrated back-end systems so customers can more efficiently and effectively self-serve. It streamlines workflows and automates routine processes end to end, which results in faster and more efficient customer support and reduced burden on agents while enhancing the overall customer experience.

Together, the combination of conversational AI and genAI empowers the AI agent to deliver a seamless, personalized, and efficient user experience. Whether it's answering queries, providing support, or guiding users through complex processes, an AI Agent powered by the perfect combination of these technologies ensures that all interactions are fluid, relevant, and indistinguishable from human counterparts.

AI Agents Rise to the Task

In an increasingly digital world, AI agents can give your business the competitive edge it needs. They seamlessly integrate into existing operations, supercharging productivity and delivering superior customer satisfaction.

AI agents don't operate in a bubble. They are team players and attentively work alongside human agents, empowering them to deliver exceptional customer experiences.

Also, AI agents DON'T take away the human touch, but rather enhance it by allowing your human team to focus on more complex and personalized tasks.

What AI agents do:

  • Close staffing gaps by providing support;
  • Address specific, focused tasks efficiently;
  • Excel in repetitive, specific tasks without attrition;
  • Boost overall automation rates and cost reduction; and
  • Handle tier-one and repetitive tasks so human agents don't have to.

What AI agents don't do:

  • They don't replace people;
  • They don't replace your customer experience with technology;
  • They don't require benefits or expensive training;
  • They don't get tired of repetition and quit; and
  • They don't require technical skills or training.

Customer engagement is critical to business success. Anyone who has ever had a bad experience making a purchase or trying to resolve a service issue can testify to this. Bad experiences mean that negative impressions of the company are formed and shared, perhaps even in a public forum. Improving efficiency and making customers happy is good for business.

A well-implemented AI agent strategy improves the customer experience in myriad ways, including the following:

  • Real-time support enables agents to deliver instant, gratifying service experiences;
  • Solutions and services are personally tailored and delivered quickly;
  • It delivers empathetic, human-like responses;
  • It provides natural dialogues with the shortest path to resolution; and
  • It results in satisfied customers who are happy to do business with you again.

As we look to the future with efficient and effective AI agents, let's consider this customer service interaction: "Hello, I would like to make a dinner reservation for myself, my wife, and two kids on the Saturday after next." "OK, a reservation for four on Saturday the 23rd. Will you require booster seats or a child's menu for your kids?" "No, thank you." OK, your reservation is confirmed."

Thank you, AI agents.

Jessica Gopalakrishnan is senior director of marketing at Cognigy.