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As widespread as they may seem, Maja Shaefer thinks AI-powered customer service chatbots are underrated. That’s because for many enterprise technology decision-makers, she says, chatbots lost their luster years ago when companies tried implementing them before the underlying artificial intelligence tech was as mature as it is today.
When it comes to conversational AI, consumers are certainly ready for any impending revolution. According to a survey from LivePerson, 71% of consumers say that they are more likely to purchase from a company that offers chat-based customer service messaging. By next year, Gartner predicts, 70% of white collar workers will interact with conversational AI platforms on a daily basis.
“Chatbot adoption is still low,” said Shaefer, cofounder and CEO of AI-powered customer service SaaS startup Zowie. “One reason is that companies already tried them in the past and failed because it was super-hard to start, and hard to train them.”
Now that AI technologies like machine learning and natural language processing are more advanced, chatbots are capable of being much smarter, more responsive, and easier to train than they were a decade ago. Shaefer thinks it’s time for the skeptics to give customer service chatbots — and AI-powered business automation more generally — a second chance.
Naturally, Shaefer hopes the skeptics will give her company’s tool a whirl. Zowie, which recently announced an integration with Zendesk and received a $600,000 seed round last year, offers a plug-and-play customer service automation tool used by notable brands like L’Oréal, Aviva, and Avon. With minimal effort for the end-user, the startup promises, Zowie will zap customer service bottlenecks and automate 30% of incoming customer inquiries within the first 24 hours after implementation.
Automating customer service
Whether or not brands ultimately use Zowie’s product, Shaefer and her team hope to evangelize on behalf of the power of AI-powered customer service automation more broadly. That’s why the company just launched Zowie Diagnostics, a free business analytics dashboard that aims to give companies a first-hand look at the value of AI-powered automation before taking the plunge on a customer service automation platform like Zowie or one of its many competitors.
“We developed technology that analyzes your data and shows you the status of your customer service,” Shaefer said. “Zowie Diagnostics lets you detect how you can improve your customer service and what you should automate. You can easily track what’s easy to automate, what’s not easy to automate.”
Once plugged into your company’s customer service portal — be it Zendesk, Intercom, Freshworks, or another one of the many Zowie-integrated platforms out there — Zowie Diagnostics will offer a comprehensive bird’s-eye view of your customer service operation, complete with high-level analytics, sleek data visualizations, and specific, actionable suggestions for how to improve things.
Using proprietary AI smarts based in part on natural language processing, Zowie bulk-analyzes the contents of data sources like customer service tickets and chats to understand what customers are saying and how well the company is meeting their needs. In addition to top-level metrics like the average number of tickets per agent and typical response time, Zowie Diagnostics will also break down useful details like what percentage of customer questions are repetitive and what times of day the team is most overtaxed.
More than just an analytics dashboard oozing with stats and charts, Zowie Diagnostics uses this bulk data analysis to call out specific customer experience shortcomings — and serve up recommendations for how to fix them.
“This is all about aligning customer support and customer experience,” Shaefer said. “Right now, in almost every company, these are two separate teams. They should be aligned because both of these teams serve your customers.”
For Zowie, the ultimate goal of this new free offering is obvious: Propel more IT decision-makers in the direction of Zowie’s product for their conversational AI needs. But whether they become a paying Zowie customer, Shaefer and her team hope users of Zowie Diagnostics at least see the power that AI-powered automation to transform customer service and recognize one undeniable truth: The chatbots are coming, whether you like it or not.
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Author: John Paul Titlow