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3 Ways AI Can Prepare Your Customer Support Team for Holiday Surges

Two people with chat boxes with a calendar in the middle

Does your customer support team typically feel overloaded during holiday surges? Even as demand spikes, you may not need to immediately grow your customer support team in response. 

Now is the time to plan ahead, equipping your team with the cost-efficient, always-on AI technology they need to work smarter, not harder. AI can help customer support teams handle customer surges responsibly while keeping the budget in check.

From multilingual support to conversational assistants, here are three ways that AI can help your customer service team prepare for the demands of the holiday season — without adding headcount.

AI optimizes multilingual customer support

For some multinational organizations, the holidays bring surges in customer requests from around the world. Unfortunately, native speakers aren’t always available at the times they’re needed, resulting in delays in first response times (FRTs) and first contact resolution (FCR) rates. Even so, staffing dedicated agents for low-volume languages doesn’t always make financial sense.

During periodic surges, an AI-powered Language Operations (LangOps) solution can help bring machine translation into agents’ existing workflows — leveraging the tools they already use to respond to email and chat requests in any language. How does it work? Imagine an English-speaking agent gets an email ticket in Portuguese. The LangOps platform translates incoming Portuguese customer tickets into English, and the agent responds back in English. The software then translates the agent’s response back to Portuguese — and a human editor checks the translation for accuracy and other important cultural nuances. The customer gets a reply back in Portuguese, and would never know the agent on the other side of the interaction speaks English.

These interactions provide international customers with a fast, localized customer experience while boosting customer-centric KPIs such as Net Promoter Score (NPS), Customer Satisfaction (CSAT) scores, and Customer Effort Scores (CES). More key benefits include providing personalized customer service at speed while building brand loyalty and increasing sales.

Self-service AI chatbots help customers help themselves

Gartner predicts that 85% of customer interactions will start with self-service by 2022. A big part of enabling customers to help themselves starts with AI-powered chatbots. While many organizations have already started to embrace chatbots, many may not leverage them in a way that accelerates the customer journey, while helping agents avoid time-draining, manual tasks.

Some great use cases for AI-based chatbots in support include helping customers: 

  • Learn more about specific products or services

  • Get assistance on technical support

  • Answer questions on billing and pricing information

  • Check the status of orders and shipping

These solutions help lower costs while solving low-touch customer problems in an automated way.

Intelligent call routing gets customers to the right expert

Often, customers with technical support inquiries or specialized requests get routed from agent to agent, which increases resolution times, creates inefficiencies, and leads to customer frustration. Intelligent call routing software can help avoid these types of issues by automatically directing calls to the agent with the right specialization.

These types of solutions are particularly valuable for organizations with a variety of solutions or product lines, or technical products that require a certain level of expertise. Instead of getting the first available agent, the customer gains access to the best possible agent to solve their problems. This type of AI cuts down on average handle times (AHT), creating efficiencies that reduce the overall costs of a customer interaction.

From orchestrating customer service processes to managing resources and beyond, there are myriad use cases for AI in customer service. These solutions can help save money and extend the operational capacity of existing team members.