A new era of transformation driven by smart devices and machines is quickly surpassing the technological revolutions of the past. Calculators, phones, computers, and the internet have transformed the work of customer service and sales professions.
Each of these technologies caused a dramatic shift in how we do things. But, artificial intelligence promises to be more disruptive than any of them.
This rapidly growing field of computer science is fueling radical transformations in all industries across the board. And, you can rest assured it will have an impact on your customer service and sales strategy as well.
AI has the power to collect, analyze, and interpret massive amounts of data. When it comes to sales and customer service, this will translate to new leadership priorities. As your business embarks on the AI journey, here is what you need to know.
AI Will Go Deeper Than Ever Before
AI has the potential to handle or support every activity across the sales function. For instance, AI can predict likely future behavior of customers based on in-depth analyses of customer data.
Sales departments will have to address key questions here, such as, “Should we try to improve the capacity of human salespeople with AI assistants?” or “Should we use chatbots to automate inbound customer inquiries and make outbound sales calls?”
AI Will Disrupt Hierarchies
Naturally, IT departments will be highly involved in the adaptation of AI across their organizations. But, this process and all strategic decisions that will accompany it will require input from most other departments as well.
Everyone working in the sales department will need to keep up to date with the latest AI solutions. To learn about how artificial intelligence can enhance sales operations, and how deep it can go, sales leaders will need to closely familiarize customers and staff with AI.
Businesses will have to invest a lot of time, money, and effort into training. To teach AI systems how to interact effectively, sales teams and customers will perhaps have to work together.
Sales reps might have to orient their new robot coworkers to their preferences, movements, and voices. The abilities of AI greatly depend on what people teach it.
It is a surprisingly relational technology. So, along with their standard tasks and duties, customer service reps and sales teams will be tasked with teaching and training AI.
Many companies have already tasked their best sales experts with training these artificial intelligence tools to carry out routine sales work. This way they are freeing up their sales staff to focus on more complex and demanding work.
To see when it is best to use AI or humans, sales teams and customer service reps will also need to closely study communities and cultures they serve. Sales positions will take on a role similar to that of behavioral scientists. For instance, they will need to look for noteworthy patterns that AI data analysis cannot detect.
AI Will Augment Sales and Services
More and more companies are applying artificial intelligence to specific sales tools and customer-facing channels. But, in order to evolve, AI requires a blend of human-assisted processes and technology.
Machine learning requires users to categorize speech, tech, or visual interactions that AI doesn’t recognize. More and more sales teams and customer service organizations will become more familiar with this form of “blended AI”.
AI Will Make Real-Time Communication the Norm
We can expect even more major companies to start using chatbots instead of customer service email. Many businesses are rushing to replace human agents with virtual assistants.
Considering that chatbots can significantly improve call deflection and cut customer service costs by 29%, it comes as no surprise. Moreover, virtual assistants have shown to be a good call deflection solution during the Covid-19 pandemic, so we can expect this trend to grow even faster.
In these times when it is paramount for customers to receive real-time guidance, virtual assistants have really proven their worth. Because of this, more businesses will use chatbots to either assist their customer service reps or replace them completely.
When it comes to engaging customers in the moment, it is clear that real-time, two-way conversation is the next evolutionary step. So, in most verticals, email has become less relevant.
AI Will Affect Customer Satisfaction
Amid increased diversity of access channels and complexity of calls, customer service managers are tempted to cut agent headcount. Due to increased expectations of AI automation, customer satisfaction and service levels will suffer.
As businesses look to drive more traffic to live chat, self-service, or chatbots, call center numbers will be harder to find on company sites. But brands that replace customer service reps with chatbots too quickly will set themselves up for failure.
Businesses that focus on using AI tools to improve the customer experience, and not just deflection, will be much better off. Because of this, many businesses have started employing enterprise chatbots and other AI tools to support their human agents.
While chatbots help customers with FAQs and less-demanding requests, enterprise chatbots assist customer service agents with handling more complex service issues. This way, companies can cut customer service costs without jeopardizing customer satisfaction.
When it comes to the future of sales and customer service, it is clear that AI will play a leading role. However, it is easy for companies to get wrapped up in the hype around AI and ignore its pitfalls. The success of your sales and customer service strategy will depend on the processes you use to implement and optimize AI tools.