To meet evolving customer expectations, top service teams are doubling down on their use of smart technologies to make the process more human, the latest State of Service report reveals.

While it might sound counterintuitive to say “use technology to be more engaging in your customer service”, this is exactly the mindset of forward-thinking service teams. One of the critical findings to come out of the latest State of Service report is that high-performing service teams are focused on leveraging smart technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive intelligence, because it’s making customer service more human.

What’s driving this trend towards smart technologies?


A close friend of mine once told me that customers think they're as unique as snowflakes. And, the truth is, they are. We’re all customers. We all expect companies to treat us uniquely. This customer demand to be respected as an individual is now so great that, combined with the fact that there is so much competition out there, businesses can’t afford to not play ball. Customers have endless choice and that means the power resides with them. Consequently, customer experience has become the battleground for true business differentiation.

For customer service agents to be empowered to meet the expectations of every single customer, on every single interaction, they need to have a 360-degree view of each customer. This view needs to be connected across service channels – whether it’s email, social media, phone, live chat, etc. – and also with other areas of the business, such as  sales. Agents also need to have access to the right tools to enable a smarter level of high-touch, personalised service.

Intelligent customer service is on the rise


So, what if you could solve your customers’ issues before they’re even aware of a pending problem? AI and predictive technologies are helping service teams do just that, by creating more proactive experiences that have a human touch, at mass scale.

Rather than replace human contact, AI is enhancing the service experience by facilitating mass personalisation and adding human-like intelligence to interactions. For instance, machine-learning can analyse a caller’s word choice to understand emotions and recommend the next best thing for an agent to say to each individual customer.

Predictive intelligence is also on the rise. Top-performing customer service teams are 3.9x more likely than underperformers to say predictive intelligence will have a transformational impact on their customer service by 2020. Underperformers need to take notice, because 51% of B2C customers and 75% of B2B customers expect that by 2020 businesses will be anticipating their needs, based on past behaviour, and making relevant suggestions before they reach out.

Using smart technologies for good


Smart technology is transforming the customer experience, but there’s also a more self-serving business benefit from its use. Those teams enabled and empowered through the likes of AI and predictive intelligence have higher rates of employee engagement. This is because agents feel more empowered and experience first-hand the positive impact this personalised style of service is having on the customer. A big win, given how high staff churn is within the customer service industry.

Ultimately, smart technologies can support agents, rather than replace them. It’s enabling us to provide a very different level of smarter service, to provide customers with consistency and speed. And the best thing is that AI only gets smarter. It’s constantly learning customers’ behaviour and, as time progresses, it only gets better at delivering exactly what our customers need.

The customer service game has truly changed. Businesses now have at their fingertips this incredible technology they can use to make each agent’s actions smarter and faster, and to provide the superior and personalised experience that customers are crying out for. Top-performing teams have caught on; it’s now time for everyone else to catch up.

Top-performing service teams aren’t just using smart technologies to meet heightened customer demands. Learn what else they’re doing in the 2017 State of Service report.

Paul Baptist is Director of Solution Engineering at Salesforce – a role he describes as ‘jack of all trades, master of some’. He’s multilingual – proficient in geek and handy with a hammer. Read more from Paul here.