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Zendesk adds AI capabilities to customer support solutions

Zendesk recently announced Intelligent Triage and Smart Assist, new artificial intelligence (AI) solutions empowering businesses to triage customer support requests automatically and access valuable data at scale.

By democratising access to these solutions, companies can better understand intent and sentiment through account-specific, data-driven models that are customised for individual use cases and drive faster resolutions, the company states.

Industry analysts predict that AI will touch the majority of customer service interactions in the near future - but Zendesk research shows less than a third of companies are currently using AI to help their service teams become more efficient.

In fact, according to the CX Accelerator report, Starters (businesses in earliest stage of implementing CX strategy) are shown to be falling behind in terms of chatbot and AI implementation, with 44% more APAC Champions using a mix of chatbots and human representation when it comes to customer service channels.

According to the research, this is partly because although AI technology has improved over the last five years, software vendors are yet to pass those improvements on to their customers, and are still selling expensive AI solutions that are extremely time-consuming to set up.

Intelligent Triage and Smart Assist are the next step in Zendesk's vision to create accessible CX AI for companies of all sizes.

The technology uses proprietary industry expertise and insights from trillions of customer data points and applies a vertical lens, creating custom models for businesses, capable of identifying the intent, language and sentiment of each customer interaction, Zendesk states.

This approach to applying machine learning creates more personalised and informed interactions to better serve customers. According to the CX Accelerator report, among companies that use chatbots, Champions in the APAC region are 45% more likely than Starters to cite its pre-configured logic and parameters, successfully helping customers to reach the right channel for their specific issue, creating a highly customised and relevant customer experience.

Specific inquiries, such as "I'm having problems with payment", can be automatically sent to an agent equipped to handle billing for a quicker resolution, while inquiries that include language written in all capital letters or in a sarcastic way will indicate a highly negative sentiment and be routed to the top of the queue.

According to Zendesk, the updates include the ability to:

  • Instantly route and prioritise revenue drivers, ensuring agents are working on business-critical requests
  • Analyse distribution of requests so businesses can better plan operations, collaborate across departments and identify improvement opportunities supported by data for more efficient CX operations
  • Automatically guide agents on how to best resolve a customers issue in real-time, understand context, recommend solutions, and improve coaching and training with valuable insights
  • Continuously boost accuracy as the AI solutions receive feedback on predictions and recommendations
  • Detect sensitive information automatically to meet compliance and security needs or extract confidential data like names, addresses, phone numbers, usernames, and financial info for use in workflows

All these capabilities are offered out of the box, included with The Zendesk Suite Enterprise Edition.

Wendy Johnstone, Chief Operating Officer, Zendesk APAC, says, “When it comes to helping businesses of all sizes improve their CX delivery, an important part of the strategy is lowering the barriers of entry for adoption - and advanced technology such as AI and machine learning are often not accessible without expensive upfront costs.

"Zendesk’s analysis shows 80% of inquiries can be narrowed down to only 20 issues, and this knowledge is incredibly powerful when looking to streamline and improve CX processes. Our approach puts our customer experience teams first every step of the way, through pre-trained machine learning tools that can do more, faster, and more effectively. These tools come ready-to-use, and will continue to learn and improve over time as businesses customise the tools based on their own unique pain points.”

Shelly Kramer, Founding Partner, Futurum research, says, “I'm a big fan of anything that makes customer experiences better, and the ability to triage requests is a foundational element, not only for CX efficiency, but also for customer satisfaction. Zendesk's AI tools nail it when it comes to the ability to quickly and easily determine customers' intent and sentiment, allowing for quick routing to the right agent and speedy identification of areas where processes can be improved.

"This ensures the speedy (sometimes instantaneous) resolution of customer issues, helps the customer service team remain agile (especially during busy times like the holiday season), and delivers bottom line business benefits in terms of hours/costs saved. There's nothing not to like about this new functionality.”

Cristina Fonseca, Vice President of Product, Zendesk, says, “Instead of putting bots that aren't fully trained in front of customers, causing frustration and many times lost business, Zendesk's fundamentally different approach takes the burden and complexity off of customers, allowing companies to build powerful applications on top of a strong foundation."

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