Gerard Adlum |   4 minutes reading time | Oct 2, 2018 11:30:00 AM

How AI-powered customer service will boost your bottom line

Response times can make or break your e-commerce business as today’s consumers are more connected than ever and expect lightning-fast responses to their queries and complaints.


In fact, according to Forrester data, poor customer service prompts people to abandon intended purchases to the tune of $62 billion in lost sales in the U.S.

As an online seller, chances are you don’t have time to type out personalized replies to every single customer query—particularly if you tend to get asked the same question over and over. That’s where artificial intelligence (AI) can free you from the burden of having to think about and write a response.

Here’s how it works: predictive algorithms scan the contents of your customer support tickets to detect the prevailing sentiment in them and suggest the best response, saving you time so can focus on growing your sales.

Let’s look at three ways that can boost your bottom line and transform the buying experience—without monopolizing you or your support agents’ time.

Faster response times

Average first response time is a crucial customer service metric. It tells you how long a customer has to wait before being helped—and what’s considered acceptable is shrinking as consumers get more accustomed to instant gratification.

A recent Google Consumer Survey discovered that a majority of people expect an email response to their query between one hour (37 percent) and 24 hours (80 percent).

 

Response times expectations

Similarly, for queries sent via social media, nearly half (49.8%) of consumers want a response within one hour, highlighting increased expectations for more immediate service.

Whether you’re selling on one marketplace or across multiple channels, customers want to be able reach you in a multitude of ways:

  • Email
  • Twitter
  • Facebook Business Page
  • Facebook Messenger
  • Instagram
  • Live chat

An e-commerce help desk can pull tickets from all your channels into one shared dashboard and prioritize them by urgency to ensure you never leave a customer hanging—particularly if you have a lean support team.

AI can take that up a notch, scanning every incoming query and suggesting what it believes to be the best response.

For instance, because order details are attached to all tickets, when a customer sends a delivery status query, an AI-enabled help desk can auto-generate an appropriate response that includes the tracking code. All you have to do is decide if the proposed answer suits the question, adjust if necessary and hit “send.”

Automate repetitive tasks

Repetitive queries are a common problem for customer support teams and anyone asked the same question over and over will eventually respond impatiently—or not at all.

Based on our internal data, the most common support tickets online sellers receive are:

 

  • product or delivery queries
  • return or refund requests
  • notes about items not arriving

Repeptitive tasksDo you find yourself repeating the same tasks over and over?

 

Armed with that information, AI can help automate answers. For instance, when a support agent needs to respond to a ticket, AI will provide a possible answer which that agent can then accept, reject or personalize.

Over time, the system will learn what works and the answers it generates will become more accurate. This means that more support tickets will be resolved in a shorter period of time and online sellers can quickly scale their customer service while responding to a growing volume of queries.

Better yet, it means that first response time isn’t restricted by time zones or public holidays—something that’s increasingly necessary in cross-border e-commerce. Moreover, instead of seeing commonly asked questions as a repetitive waste of time, AI can remove the hindrance of having to type out the same thing a hundred times a day, so you can focus on resolving more critical customer interactions.

Reduce customer service costs

According to IBM research, it costs businesses a massive $1.3 trillion to service the 265 billion customer support queries they receive each year.

In addition to freeing up your employees for more complex tasks, AI can also reduce the headcount needed on your customer support team.

Think about it: providing around-the-clock support for one sales channel and in one language can be expensive, but it’s nothing compared to what it could cost you to scale your e-commerce business across multiple channels and languages.

That’s where AI can offer huge cost savings, removing the need for tier-1 agents so that your support team can focus on resolving more complex issues. In addition, auto-translation combined with AI can give your agents the polyglot superpowers they need to provide multilingual customer support at scale—without having to hire a whole bunch of agents who speak the native language of every country you sell in.

The last word

In the fast-paced, ever-changing world of e-commerce, only the most agile businesses will survive. As tech-savvy consumers become increasingly impatient, the ability to automate responses to repetitive issues will not only boost profitability, it will also go a long way toward future-proofing your online store.

 

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