How Generative AI Can Help SMBs Improve Customer Experiences
As part of Solutions Review’s Contributed Content Series—a collection of contributed columns written by industry experts in maturing software categories—Ramprakash “Ram” Ramamoorthy, the Director of AI Research at Zoho Corporation, explains how generative AI technology can help small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMBs) improve the customer experience.
Prioritizing customer experience is a critical component in building a successful company. According to a study by Emplifi, 86 percent of customers would stop using a brand they were once loyal to after just two bad customer service experiences. This fact and the number of companies building software solutions for customer service operations bring competition to staggering levels. So, in a time when companies are so easily replaceable, businesses need to maintain healthy customer relationships to keep churn to a minimum. This is especially true for SMBs, where every customer counts.
This pursuit starts by improving customer experience, and a smart way to approach this is, well, the smart way: Generative artificial intelligence (AI). This is a category of artificial intelligence technology that can “generate” data, including text, images, and other forms of synthetic data.
While AI for SMB software tools had a slow start, there are now a variety of solutions that integrate with generative AI. In general, adding the “AI tag” gives businesses a competitive advantage by helping them save time, and money, improve efficiency in operations, and make their brand stand out better. In terms of customer experience, here are some benefits that a business could consider before incorporating generative AI into its strategies.
Simplified Customer Service
Small businesses may have limited staff to handle customer service tasks, so they may have little time to answer customer queries and provide efficient, high-quality solutions. In these cases, incorporating AI, specifically bots, into customer service solutions can help manage simple, easy-to-resolve questions around the clock. Bots can respond to queries conversationally, giving customers a personalized experience. This means human interactions can be saved for more specific and complex situations that require a customer service agent.
Faster and Smarter Resolutions
The faster customers receive a solution, the more likely they will continue their service. Here, AI can help in two ways. One, it can convert lengthy customer queries into brief, condensed summaries. This way, customer service agents won’t have to spend too much time understanding the issue and can instead work on solving it immediately. And two, if the business already has a resource center that includes text on resolving specific problems, AI can compile this text into a suitable response to answer a relevant query. A human agent wouldn’t have to spend time on such requests and can focus on a different task instead.
Human emotions play a significant role in preserving customer relationships. Sometimes an empathetic tone is all it takes to retain an angry customer. Or letting a frequent customer know you remember them could make their day. This emotional factor is probably why many businesses have previously been wary of using AI. But there’s a way around this. AI tools can now detect a customer’s tone in a ticket to help agents respond to them with appropriate emotions. It can also access existing information and previous conversations with customers, abiding by all privacy norms to create personalized responses and strengthen relationships.
Some small businesses may use software services to manage their customer experience operations. But once they decide to take the AI route, using such a service becomes mandatory. They must determine two things as early as possible:
- Deciding on what customer experience operations they’ll be incorporating AI into currently and in the future; building an AI strategy roadmap.
- Identifying a service provider that can scale and bring all customer experience tools together under a single platform.
As companies expand their business, they may outgrow the customer experience tools and methods currently being used. Switching to entirely new tools can be a tedious and challenging task. Also, using various devices from different providers can become tricky to keep track of. To avoid this, it’s vital that the tools and AI strategy scale along with the business synchronously.