Customer service is evolving to include artificial intelligence (AI)-driven technology. Fortune Business Insights reports that the AI market is expected to reach $202.57 billion by 2026—and customer service is one of the driving factors behind the technology.

If you’re looking to improve your business’s customer service, or if you’re aiming to improve productivity in that department, we have 7 ways AI customer service can benefit your small business.

1. AI Customer Service Helps Filter Queries

While every customer is essential, there is a need to prioritize some issues over others.

Chatbots — AI computer programs that mimic humans when replying through text or voice — can handle general queries, from shipment tracking to return policy and store location questions. This gives your customer service representatives room to deal with situations that need human intervention.

Do customers care if they’re interacting with bots instead of humans? According to an “Internet Retailing” post, customer experience company Genesys’s research reports that 54% of polled U.K. shoppers don’t care about who (or what) resolved their issue, as long as it happens quickly. Forty-eight percent of the respondents also said they’d use bots to deal with simple queries.

2. AI Customer Service Streamlines Tasks

Using an AI customer service platform, information such as a customer’s name, account number, address and more can be collected when they contact your company with a complaint or problem. With these details already in the system, a customer service representative can spring into action and address issues as soon as they get on the phone.

3. AI Customer Service Responds Day or Night

Around-the-clock service is another advantage of using artificial intelligence for customer service.

According to Acquire, an AI company that’s focused on customer service, the fact that AI doesn’t take breaks is one of its main selling points. “As technology advances, AI is becoming more productive and even cheaper,” according to a post on the Acquire website. “It needs no sleep, doesn’t take breaks and never gets sick. It can work round the clock in a way no human could ever hope to. AI can easily learn new skills, and it doesn’t make mistakes. Machines work tirelessly with consistent efficiency, resulting in greater productivity.”

What if an after-hours’ concern needs to be escalated to a human customer service representative (CSR)? Some companies might have a handful of employees on standby, while others can touch base with the customer the next day.

4. AI Directs Customers to the Correct Agent

AI-powered customer service can review pending incident tickets and assign them to the right customer service agents.

Bots can be customized according to your business’s needs. For example, billing concerns can be filtered and redirected to the appropriate department. Or, if you’re getting messages from potential leads through Facebook Messenger, you can have bots weed out insincere users from those who are genuinely interested.

5. AI Spots Patterns in Customer Complaints

Customer service representatives can’t process all the customer data they receive. That’s not the case with AI, though. Bots can parse through a sizable chunk of information, give it some structure and determine the root cause of the issue.

For example, if a customer calls and complains about a late shipment, your CSR might see it as an isolated incident. However, a bot can look at historical data, find other incidents of the same problem and figure that there’s a larger issue at hand.

With the help of AI, problematic transactions are automatically flagged. This can be a big help for small businesses with limited staff. Instead of assigning a large team to find bottlenecks in the operation, 1 or 2 people can monitor flagged transactions while the rest of the workers can focus on finding a solution.

6. AI Improves Customer Experience via Data Analysis

With an AI customer service platform, gathering customer information is easy and efficient.

The following are some metrics that AI-based customer service can gather on your business’s behalf:

  • User count (total, active and new users)
  • Number of messages (and who initiated the conversation)
  • Retention rate (how long bots can retain the customer’s attention)

Analyzing that data and having insight into your customer’s wants and needs can make customer satisfaction more attainable. When you have all the data, you can:

  • Predict what products your customers are interested in
  • Use their behavioral and purchase patterns to create a better online experience
  • Understand how customers engage your with customer service representatives so you can make improvements

7. AI Gives Your Brand an Interactive Voice

You have control over what kind of language your bots use. They can be programmed to match your brand’s tone and voice—whether it’s a casual and friendly tone or serious and professional.

If a customer calls, there will be a standard greeting; even auto-responses will be consistent.

Chatbots also assist users with shopping. Several fashion brands—including Victoria’s Secret and Burberry—use mobile messaging apps to communicate with customers. Each chatbot’s capabilities vary, depending on the brand, but some features include the following:

  • Answering consumers’ questions
  • Viewing individual items of clothing and coordinating entire outfits
  • Directing customers to a human representative or consultant—when necessary

In a February 2020 interview with Forbes, the chief marketing officer for mobile marketing program Verve, Julie Bernard, says large retailers have been focusing on improved consumer usability on mobile phones. The hope is that AI will help convert shoppers into customers.

“Smart retailers have employed chatbots to deliver helpful customer service while on the mobile device; chatbots and mobile messaging capabilities will only continue to improve, further contributing to the commerce switch from stores and desktop to mobile.”

While every business has not adopted artificial intelligence customer service, those that have are reaping its many benefits. Not only are they able to streamline operations, but through data collection and analysis, AI customer service can improve brand loyalty and customer satisfaction.

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