Do SMBs and startups need AI for Customer Support?

Yes. Here’s why companies – regardless of size –  can’t afford to de-prioritize the customer experience. 

For the first time ever, brand love is not reserved for the companies that have category dominance, the deepest pockets or the widest distribution channels. Brand love is built on customer experience.

Startups and smaller companies can now compete with the behemoths of their industry thanks to readily available global distribution channels, online and social awareness, product ingenuity and the end-to-end customer experience.

Until recently, large companies have made little effort to improve their customer service, comfortable with the global status quo of frustrating, fragmented, inconvenient support that proliferated in nearly every industry. Offering support on limited channels and hours, keeping customers on hold for long periods of time (which added up to 43 days in a person’s life), unpleasant and rude representatives, and lack of personalization or recognition of who a person was, their history and loyalty to a brand was expected. Companies didn’t have to improve their support, because no one else was. It was universally terrible.

Something changed, though. Companies started to emerge that prioritized how they treated their customers. One of the first examples I can think of in my own experience was Zappos. A company that, when I was told about the brand, I was told in the same sentence that their customer service is phenomenal. Zappos, and more that would follow, were putting the customer first. Offering friendly, convenient support on customers terms. It was refreshing.

After getting a taste of what customer support could be, customer expectations started to quickly rise. The status quo was no longer acceptable. This quick change in the tide of customer expectations, and a lag in established companies addressing these new demands, has led to companies losing $62 billion per year due to poor customer service. This is staggering. 

Customer service is now a core business driver and a huge opportunity for startups and SMBs to establish dominance and build long-term, profitable relationships with customers. Established companies are racing to implement more automation, personalization, channel-less and on-demand customer service, and emerging companies can’t afford to ignore their support function. SMBs and startups need to invest in technologies that can turn customer support into a competitive edge.

As you think about customer service, consider the expectations for customers that you must meet to compete:

  • Channel-less: Offer support across every channel, including email, social messaging and website chat
  • Personalized: Tailored to the individual, real-time context, sentiment and history with the brand
  • Instantaneous: Quick, high-quality resolutions
  • On-demand: 24/7 support to issues on their terms
  • Friendly: Pleasant interactions with human or virtual agents
  • Consistent: Issues need to be resolved consistently, every time
  • Proactive: Reacting to incoming tickets is not enough; Anticipate needs to solve problems before they even exist

Without deploying AI into your workforce, it’s incredibly expensive and difficult to meet these rising demands. AI can be used to automate resolutions to everyday tickets reserving human agents to focus on complex and unique customer needs. When leveraged correctly, AI can reduce customer service costs by up to 30 percent.

Interested in learning more? Let’s chat.