3 ways to provide an AI customer experience

Learn how you can use AI to improve the customer experience at every touchpoint—and why you should.

By Emily Miels, Contributing Writer

Published December 7, 2021
Last updated March 23, 2022

A great customer experience features efficient and personalized interactions at each step of the buyer’s journey. But in order to achieve this, companies need a way to quickly analyze customer data and act on it. According to the Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report, businesses that leverage customer data see 36-percent faster resolutions and a 79-percent reduction in wait times; they also solve four times the number of customer requests.

Companies are increasingly leaning on artificial intelligence (AI) to automatically collect and organize customer data at each touchpoint so they can deliver better experiences. But what exactly does it mean to use AI throughout the customer journey? We’ve got a few ideas.

What is AI customer experience?

Artificial intelligence (AI) customer experience uses technology—such as machine learning, chatbots, and conversational UX—to make every touchpoint as efficient and hassle-free as possible. It’s like having a virtual assistant to organize files, analyze interactions, and handle tasks when you’re too busy or unavailable, so customers can always get what they need.

3 ways to use AI customer experience

Here’s how AI can improve the customer experience at specific touchpoints and, in turn, boost your bottom line.

  1. Improve customer onboarding

    More than 90 percent of consumers feel that companies they buy from can do a better job onboarding new customers. AI can help businesses get new clients up to speed quickly and make the onboarding experience more personalized and less frustrating.

    Provide 24/7 customer support with AI

    AI-powered self-service options—such as help centers and chatbots—allow you to quickly support customers and address concerns while they’re learning about your product or service.

    AI-powered chatbots empower customers to solve problems on their own.

    During the onboarding stage, customers tend to have a lot of questions. Chatbots, like Zendesk’s Answer Bot, use AI to answer basic questions and collect key customer information in real-time. The bot can suggest help center articles, instructional guides, and other resources that customers may find helpful while getting started.

    AI-powered chatbots empower customers to solve problems on their own, no matter if it’s outside of business hours, so support teams can keep their ticket backlog manageable. With bots handling simple inquiries, human agents have more time to resolve complex issues, leading to a faster resolution and a better experience for all customers.

    When it comes to help centers, you can use AI to help you analyze and organize your content. Zendesk’s Content Cues, for instance, utilizes machine learning technology to quickly organize and identify high-performing and underperforming help center articles. This enables your team to adjust and update articles as needed to make sure they’re as relevant as possible for readers.

    Provide personalized recommendations

    With AI, companies can analyze a customer’s behavior, demographics, and personal preferences to highlight relevant products and resources during the onboarding process.

    Take Netflix, for example. The streaming service leverages AI to create a personalized home screen for every subscriber. When viewers create a new Netflix account, they’re asked to pick a few of their favorite movies and TV shows. Using AI, Netflix provides recommendations for similar programming and continues to customize its suggestions based on what you’re watching, how long you’ve been watching, and what device you’re using.

    60% of consumers say it’s likely they will become repeat buyers after a personalized shopping experience with a retailer.

    Likewise, online shopping giant Amazon uses AI and machine learning to understand the reasoning behind each query so searchers get the most relevant results. Based on a customer’s search history, Amazon will also display similar items the customer may like. The company even offers a personal shopping service for Prime members. Customers complete a survey about their style preferences, and a consultant picks out customized clothing items for them.

    Delivering personalized options during onboarding helps get customers what they need faster and provides a better overall experience that keeps them coming back. In fact, 60 percent of consumers say it’s likely they will become repeat buyers after a personalized shopping experience with a retailer, according to Segment’s State of Personalization 2021 report.

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  3. Boost customer retention

    Once customers are onboarded, AI can help you proactively resolve problems, deliver superior support experiences, and decrease churn.

    Anticipate customers’ needs and potential issues

    Use AI to identify common customer questions and problems so you can generate solutions and improve retention.

    Say you work as a support rep for a productivity tool software company. You use an AI-powered feature of your CRM to track customer issues, and you start to notice many customers are having a hard time integrating the tool with Google Calendar. Your team can immediately get to work on updating your current help center article about the integration so new users can learn how to set it up.

    Zendesk’s Content Cues feature also utilizes AI to review support tickets and determine which customer problems are the most common. It also has the ability to quickly group tickets together, so your team can see the bigger picture and prevent escalations and additional tickets in the future.

    Track conversation history for seamless interactions

    Consumers say that having to repeat themselves is among the most frustrating aspects of a bad customer service experience—and roughly half of customers say they would switch to a competitor after just one negative experience. Keep your buyers happy by using AI-powered bots that can review past customer interactions to gain all the relevant context they need to provide hassle-free support.

    Imagine a customer reaches out via the chatbot on your website and provides their name, order number, and date of purchase. The next time they reach out with a question, either via the same chatbot or another platform, that information is already saved and accessible—so the customer doesn’t have to repeat themselves or re-enter the information. This saves everyone time and makes the interaction much more seamless.

    Zendesk also integrates with the Netomi Virtual Agent, which allows intelligent chatbots to pull details from the conversation history. You can train the chatbots to perform better based on historical email, chat, and messaging data or on pre-trained AI conversational skills. Plus, there are AI-powered recommended replies that help customer service reps work more efficiently.

    Analyze customer data to predict and reduce churn

    With AI-powered tools like SupportLogic, you can track and analyze unstructured data—like customer sentiment—to see who’s a high churn risk. You can then prioritize which customers need your attention first.

    SupportLogic uses AI technology and natural language processing (NLP) to look at thousands of different signals and keywords from customer interactions. It can then provide quick recommendations and automatic alerts to help you improve support.

    Gaining a better understanding of how customers feel...enables your reps to quickly swing into action to prevent churn.

    When Fivetran partnered with SupportLogic, they were able to reduce customer churn by 25 percent. SupportLogic integrated with Fivetran’s existing support ticketing system and customer success platform to pull customer signals automatically. Those signals were analyzed using NLP, and each customer was assigned a customer sentiment score. Fivetran could then use those actionable insights to connect with at-risk customers and improve their experience.

    Gaining a better understanding of how customers feel about their experience with your brand and where there might be challenges enables your reps to quickly swing into action to prevent churn. Customer retention is important because keeping existing customers is less expensive and more efficient than attracting new ones.

  4. Increase revenue and growth

    With AI-powered chatbots, you can alert customers about new products, special discount codes, and other information that encourages them to buy more.

    Say a customer is using the chatbot to gain additional information about your company’s software before making a purchase. Based on the customer’s data and how the customer is answering the chatbot’s questions, the bot could highlight certain promotions, upgraded features, or various pricing tiers that would be a good fit for their needs.

    Zendesk’s Answer Bot can also automatically alert agents to follow-up with customers who express interest in a specific product or service. When they get the notification, sales team members can jump in to upsell or cross-sell. Answer Bot also integrates with Certainly, a conversational AI platform that allows chatbots to make customized product recommendations for individual customers.

    Because these opportunities flow naturally in the conversation and are relevant to what the customer is looking for, the upsells and cross-sells don’t feel like a sales pitch. They come across as helpful and genuine—like a recommendation from a friend—rather than pushy.

Transform CX with Zendesk’s AI features

If you’re ready to start using AI to improve the customer experience, we’ve got your back. We’re making life easier for support teams and customers with a number of AI-powered features like chatbots, Content Cues, and more.

As part of our commitment to using AI to create great customer experiences, Zendesk recently joined forces with Cleverly, a company focused on AI support. Learn more about Cleverly and how it will help us expand our AI capabilities for even better customer service.

The digital tipping point

Learn data-backed strategies and key investment priorities for achieving CX success.

The digital tipping point

Learn data-backed strategies and key investment priorities for achieving CX success.

Read now