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Human vs AI customer care: why & what Consumers prefer

May 1, 2024

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I was reading FastCompany the other day, and an article by Christopher Zara on customer service caught my interest. It discussed the growing use of chatbots and AI customer care; and the preference of consumers for human agents over bots!

It featured a survey by Callvu. This survey revealed that most customers are willing to wait several minutes to speak with a human rather than engaging instantly with an AI assistant. Specifically, 81% of respondents would wait to talk to a live agent.

The golden question: How to deliver on that when service has become a key source of competitive advantage in the eyes of customers, but when ‘cost-cutting’ is a key business focus for 2024?

Read on to find our 3 keys for successful AI customer care.

Key points from the article:

Preference for Human Agents

The survey shows that the majority of respondents (81%) prefer waiting to speak with a human customer service representative rather than engaging with an AI assistant immediately.

Optimal Wait Time

The ideal wait time for most customers is around 4-5 minutes. And a significant percentage is willing to wait longer (up to 11 minutes) for a human agent.

Effectiveness of Human Agents

Live agents are perceived to be better at critical customer service tasks, especially in complex problem-solving and providing empathy when customers are frustrated.

Role of AI Chatbots

While AI chatbots are valued for handling simple inquiries quickly and accurately, they are not seen as effective as human agents in certain key areas such as empathy and complex problem resolution.

Overall, the article suggests that while AI chatbots have their place in customer service, most consumers still believe that human agents offer a superior experience, particularly when it comes to addressing complex issues and providing emotional support. Meanwhile, companies’ adoption of AI in customer service is often perceived as driven by cost-cutting motives rather than genuine efforts to improve service quality.

(Ref. https://www.fastcompany.com/91115626/ai-chatbots-vs-humans-customer-service-tasks-survey-ratings)

Interesting findings, aren’t they?

Customer Experience as CA

Meanwhile, Salesforce’s State of the Connected Customer report — based on a survey of 17,000 global customers — offers a different perspective:

 AI customer care
  • 91% of business buyers and 86% of consumers said the experience a company provides is as important as its products and services. (average 88% of customers)
  • These % are the highest since the company began tracking this sentiment, i.e. it’s never been more important for companies to deliver excellent customer service.
  • And, 86% of shoppers are willing to pay a premium for great customer service.

So, a single-minded focus on cost-cutting in customer service is not a good idea. Instead, customer experience should be pursued as a competitive advantage.

How do you do that?

Service Consistency, a must-have

A third piece of research, the Salesforce State of the Connected Customer report shows that:

  • 85% of customers now expect consistent interactions across departments when they engage with a company.
  • What that means is this: to be able to answer sales transaction and delivery questions, your customer service team should have access to customer purchasing data. And they need access all other data that’s needed to answer complex customer queries, in a first time customer service resolution.
 AI customer care. -- service cloud agents must have access to data - data driven customer journeys

Not empowering your call center with the data it needs makes you risk losing customer trust. That’s because 55% of customers lose trust in companies when there’s a lack of consistency across touch points, found the report.

First time resolution, first person resolution

A fourth piece of research, Salesforce 5th State of Customer Service – report (based on14,300 surveys) adds another angle with solutions on how to best offer customer service in 2024:

 AI customer care --First time resolution - a top customer service KPI
  • 85% of customers now expect consistent interactions across departments when they engage with a company.
  • What that means is this: to be able to answer sales transaction and delivery questions, your customer service team should have access to customer purchasing data.
  • For customers, an excellent customer experience means prompt attention and streamlined communications. 
    • 83% of customers expect to interact with someone immediately, when they contact a company.
    • Another 83% expect to solve complex problems by talking to 1 person.

Service Cloud + Human + AI Customer Care: Our 3 keys to success

The key to business success with cloud-based technology and AI-empowerment in successful customer service delivery lies in how you are using human vs AI customer service, as well as how you adopt other cloud technologies.

CloudAnalysts’ 3 keys to your customer service success:

  1. Use chatbots is to make agents better, not to replace them. – Astrid van Dorst, CloudAnalysts
    • 78% of human service agents report difficulty balancing speed and quality.
    • Solution: give your live agents the time they need to manage more complicated requests. How: have customers interact with a chatbot to get the answer to a simple question. Or use it as a guided journey to start the case resolution. Key: AI does basics, live agents the rest.
  2. Position your bot to reduce customer wait time.“- Astrid van Dorst, CloudAnalysts
    • To meet the customer preferences of talking to a human vs AI customer care, you need this conceptual change. Convey in your chatbot configuration that the quick questions asked are for the agent – so he/she can serve them faster. ‘No one wants to wait in line for very long, after all?!’ Everyone sympathises with a statement like this.
  3. Implement Salesforce Service Cloud with a Knowledge base.” Astrid van Dorst, CloudAnalysts
    • Include thorough FAQ section that will allow your customers to quickly find the answer to their question (see our Service Cloud Overview for options).
    • In addition to having a well-working chat-bot setup, consider this: In 2024, everyone’s attention span has become super short, right? In addition, particularly younger generations have a preference for ‘self-empowerment’. “59% of customers actually prefer self-service when they have a simple question or issue” finds the State of Customer Service report.

CloudAnalysts as your partner in service success

We have delivered advanced customer service solutions over the years. Our experts have resolved serious customer satisfaction issues, call center management needs, service efficiency problems and service delivery gaps.

A knowledge base takes time to develop, but things go much faster with our help. Data architecture is important. With our data architects, this becomes ‘no problem’. We have designed Knowledge bases that can be used internally for live agents to more quickly respond to customer requests. We empower it with Einstein Search AI to surface the best article for inclusion in their email. Knowledge bases can also be used by customers directly. That’s because a knowledge base can live externally too. E.g. in your ring-fenced Salesforce experience cloud customer site, Salesforce partner portal or on your website.

Salesforce Service Cloud comes with omni-channel communication options including chat (besides email, SMS, Whatsapp messaging and soft phone). This chat functionality can support both new enquiries for inside sales teams, and your call center answering customer-service calls.

We have found that companies all have somewhat unique requirements. However, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel! We’ll embed our best practices in your cloud-based customer service. And we’ll leverage a combination of out-of-the-box functionality. We’d love to tell you how to use the Salesforce technology for tailored solutions for your business.

Successful AI customer care: CloudAnalysts, business savvy Salesforce consultants can help you  create excellent customer experiences with AI customer care.

Interested to learn more?

We would be very happy to help you.

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