Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Real Customers, Artificial Intelligence: Transforming the Digital Support Experience

June 11, 2018
By Special Guest
Jens Trotzky, Head of Artificial Intelligence Technology, SAP Support -

The rise of the digital enterprise and on-demand economy has borne a new wave of B2B customer – one that must become agile to remain competitive. And the direction provided in software support must reflect that.

With quarterly software upgrades and on-the-fly solution updates available, one-dimensional support tickets and customer service hotlines will no longer cut it. In order to modernize these resources, many vendors have begun to integrate chat features and interactive tools into their support offerings. However, as digital transformation continues to pick up the pace, even these digital support tools are in need of an upgrade.

And this upgrade will come in the form of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Reports show that by 2020, AI will touch nearly everything – including support services for enterprise software.

A Smarter Way to Chat

In order to deliver real-time response, we’ve seen a steady rise in the trend of live chat features available to software users. With as little as a click of a button, questions are sent directly to a support specialist who is at-the-ready on the other side of their computer to guide you in the right direction.

While this direct communication channel cuts down the time it takes to alert a support specialist of the issue at hand, solution providers offer thousands of products – creating an overwhelming pool of data with millions of possible solutions. In addition, customers are just as unique as the solutions that they work with, and have different ways of expressing the same issue.

In order to ensure that the speed of problem resolution mirrors the real-time delivery of support requests, AI’s ability to autonomously monitor complex IT landscapes and pull relevant information will be crucial to live chat features. AI is able to read between the lines of support requests – sifting through potential human jargon – and pull only the information necessary for effective problem resolution, making this material readily available to support specialists almost instantaneously. Not only will this ultimately streamline the role of the support specialist – it will optimize the use of the solution for the customer.  

Digital Forms That Know You (Better Than You)

For those that prefer self-service in support scenarios, AI will also play a role in transforming the customer experience. In the past, customers adamant on DIY support were asked to fill out digital forms describing their business, solution, and the problem at hand through a set of catch-all drop-down box options. This lengthy process would likely direct the customer to high-level “how-to” and “Frequently Asked Questions” (FAQ) resources, adding to the potential confusion.

This process neglects the rich set of data surrounding the nature of certain problems, such as their frequency, how they are experienced, and how they are best resolved, which helps shape each solution – but AI does not. By monitoring the overall usability process of the customer, AI becomes smart in the company’s characteristics, what information they’re using, and even where they tend to click on a webpage. Equipped with this information, AI will be able to pre-fill company information as soon as these digital support forms are opened, and based on past experiences, provide personalized drop-down options to guarantee that the description of the needs at hand are as precise as possible. Ensuring that these self-service forms are personalized will cut down on the time it takes for a customer to fill them out, and deliver equally as tailored support resources for reference during problem resolution.

What Comes First: The Support Request, or the Solution?

We are still very much in the beginning of AI acceptance in customer support, but that makes the opportunity for innovation that much more exciting. AI’s continued integration within the B2B customer service industry will not only allow for live support; it will enable pre-emptive support as well. As AI picks up on patterns in customers’ consumption behavior and the activity of a given solution, it will be able to detect the warning signs of an IT issue based on any changes to these actions. Once identified, data from past support requests can be used to solve the problem on the back-end before it affects the user again.

While early integrations of AI have certainly helped to streamline the support process, its automated presence is often clear on the front-end. Over the next decade, we will see the line between artificial and empathetic blur as AI adapts to a more “human” delivery of support. “Service with a smile” will never go out of style, and as AI continues to become “smart” in customer service, it will ensure that this principle remains foundational in digital customer support.

Edited by Maurice Nagle