AI, Bots

How AI Assistants Take Automation to a Superior Level

By 5 Minute Read

Digital AI assistants are shaping a new model that allows businesses to keep customers engaged across the complete lifecycle, prodding them to take better actions sooner through higher degrees of availability, convenience, and personalization. And it’s not just consumers that are benefiting from AI assistants; businesses are realizing new opportunities to advance their automation and lower the cost to serve customers in ways that were not previously possible.

Conversational AI Assistants: Becoming the New Norm

Mobile devices, messaging apps, social media and video channels like FaceTime, WhatsApp, Slack, and others are now the norm for most consumers, offering immediate and convenient ways of connecting, communicating, transacting, and buying. The days of customers dialing a contact center number and waiting on hold until an agent is free to answer them are fast disappearing. Similar can be said for emailing a support query. So why do many businesses still put toll-free numbers and email contact forms as the interface to their service or support center? 

Recent advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) are creating opportunities for companies to deploy digital AI assistants that support chat-based self-service and engagement models across many different touch points in the customer lifecycle. Based on natural language processing (NLP), conversational AI solutions are reducing the need for many human interactions in labor-intensive or routine processes. An AI assistant can understand and respond to a customer using natural language, similar to how humans carry on a conversation. But rather than replace humans altogether, they can be put to work to deflect and automate common customer requests, leaving the unique or complicated issues for human agents to deal with. 

Commonly referred to as chatbots, virtual AI assistants, digital assistants, or AI Bots, the application of conversational AI extends beyond just simulating human conversation to bring higher levels of automation to solving customer issues; using natural language as an interface, with AI backing it up. This provides a new wave of customer self-service and automation models that are powered by AI. For this reason, we foresee that digital AI assistants will become a more dominant interface in supporting customers throughout their different journeys with a business, from the first point of contact in a sales cycle through operational interactions, service and support, and more.

5 Use Cases for Digital AI Assistants

The business applications for digital AI assistants are not just confined to customer service but span the complete customer lifecycle, engaging with a customer at the very first point of interaction in a sales or acquisition process right through to when a customer makes a claim, re-orders a product, upgrades their subscription,  checks their delivery status, lodges a complaint, or leaves for another competitor. As such, many different departments in a business are finding their own use cases for implementing these AI-powered digital assistants to help them automate how they engage with customers from sales to operations, customer service, finance, marketing, and retention.

Chatbots and Usr Lifecycle

Think of all the many ways in which we interact with businesses, whether it’s a retailer, utility provider, an insurance company, our banking partners, or any other service provider. Whether we are looking for a quote, applying for a loan, purchasing a policy, managing our account, or renewing a membership, there are many different interaction points where an AI assistant can add great value in offering fast and convenient access for customers.

Let’s look at five business use cases for digital AI assistant solutions at different points in the customer lifecycle:

1. Sales AI Assistant

Digital channels are critical to how we communicate and search for information. But they are also key to support a consumer’s decision-making and ultimate purchase; a journey that often entails many different steps and supporting processes. In the online world, converting a customer to purchase a product or service is a key business performance metric. The journey starts with a prospect searching and finding a vendor site, supported by top-of-the-funnel marketing tactics such as digital advertising (PPC, Social ads, retargeting, etc.). Once a user clicks, engagement commences but can still be a long way off from converting that customer to a sale.

A pre-sales AI assistant can support customers and keep them engaged in the journey towards a final purchase. It can offer personalized advice or customized quotes,  answering customer queries, and providing more transparency of product and pricing details. It also reduces much of the friction and risk of customers dropping off. It can also answer any queries a customer has during the interaction and, if it can’t answer, it can handover to an agent. A digital worker also plays a pivotal role in converting quotes to sales by assisting customers through the process in a more convenient and faster way, driving higher conversion rates which improve both revenue and cost-efficiency.

Read our chatbot case study, showing how an insurance company increased sales conversions by over 11% by deploying a Quote Assist bot. Here’s a short video that shows how the Quote Helper Bot was implemented by the client.

2. Customer Onboarding AI Assistant

Customer onboarding is critical as it represents a revenue opportunity if you can enroll new customers and get them up and running as quickly and efficiently as possible. But, for some industries, onboarding customers can be a costly and complicated process, especially as there can be many steps in the customer journey that require document and information gathering, validation, and approval. For example, insurance companies need to onboard new customers with policies and banks need to set up customers with mortgages or loans. Anyone who has been through these journeys knows well that they often have a lot of friction and delays while proper proof documents and details are gathered, scanned, or mailed to and from the provider in an effort to gain final approval.

An Onboarding AI Assistant can proactively engage with customers on a messaging channel and keep them engaged throughout all the steps in the process so that they can complete their onboarding faster and more efficiently. The bot can request all the required documents as image uploads, validate the data, and collate all the information. This takes away a lot of the friction compared with human workers managing the gathering of documents via email or white mail.  Also, by integrating the onboarding bot with the business systems the document images and data can be automatically updated in the customer’s record, eliminating the need for staff to key in or scan documents and enter them into the customer’s account details. And, like with any bot, a path to human handover means that at any stage a customer can raise a ticket or be handed over to a live agent.

3. Account AI Assistant

Checking the balance of an account and requesting other account information are very common customer interactions, whether it’s relating to their bank account, utility account, or some membership account, However, the costs associated with manning contact center live chat or phone lines to deal with routine account status requests are prohibitive, eating into valuable agent time that could be better spent on more complex queries. An Account AI Assistant can engage with customers 24/7 on their preferred channel and answer account-related requests, such as account balance, payment due dates, most recent transactions,  among others. To ensure security and data protection, the account bot can authenticate a customer and access their data through secure integration with backend business systems.

And as with any digital assistant AI solution, a path to a live agent offers a more collaborative model that leads to superior experience where the live agents respond to unique or tricky account issues while the bot automates the handling of more routine queries. Agent productivity rises, CSAT increases and, the costs to serve go down.

4. Customer Service AI Assistant

There are multiple use cases for digital AI assistants in customer service that I have covered in a previous blog. Think of almost any customer service interaction and you’ll generally discover how bot technology can help automate and manage tasks. From handling complaints to tracking the status of an order, updating a customers account details, setting an appointment, or providing technical support, the application of conversational AI is transforming traditional customer service engagement models. But these AI assistants can also play a critical role in call deflection, where an inbound customer phone call can be routed via the IVR to a text channel where the customer can click a link to a bot and self-serve.

5. Renewals AI Assistant

AI bots can also be proactive, reaching out to remind customers of upcoming renewal dates and offering them an incentive to sign up early or providing them with a new offer to reflect any changes in their situation. Engaging with a customer more frequently throughout the subscription cycle helps foster a better relationship so that when it comes close to renewal time they are less likely to shop around and switch companies. This helps improve the customer retention rate while also lowering the cost of proactive outreach.

Discover how a bot platform can help you to keep customers engaged and help you build compelling AI assistants that increase your conversion and retention rates and lower your costs to serve.

 

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