Conversational Support 101: Blending AI and Humans for Better CX

Joydeep Sen Sarma
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Conversational Support 101: Blending AI and Humans for Better CX

Joydeep Sen Sarma
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The stats don't lie: according to Salesforce, 90% of customers care as much about their experience with a company as the products or services they provide. Another HubSpot research shows that nearly all customers (a whopping 90%) consider receiving a fast response essential when interacting with a business. These statistics highlight the power of prompt communication and how crucial excellent customer support is for going beyond simply fixing issues.

Customers today expect their needs and questions to be addressed quickly. Brands that fail to provide timely responses risk losing customer trust and loyalty. The takeaway is clear: being responsive must be a top priority for companies seeking to deliver exceptional service and build lasting relationships with their audience. And the secret sauce for crafting memorable experiences that keep customers returning is a conversational approach to support.

In this post, we'll explore what makes conversational support so powerful. You'll learn the key benefits of prioritizing real customer conversations and pick up tips for seamlessly integrating this approach into your business. Let's dive in!

What Is Conversational Support?

Conversational support places the customer, rather than the incident, at the center of its operations. It is a customer service strategy capitalizing on the growing popularity of messaging apps like Slack, MS Teams, AI, and chatbots. 

These tools create a seamless, holistic customer service journey across multiple channels and provide a personalized experience.

Unlike traditional customer service methods, which often involve phone calls or email exchanges, conversational support allows customers to communicate with businesses conveniently and in real time through such messaging platforms.

Benefits of Conversational Support

Looking to upgrade your customer support? Let's talk about the benefits of conversational support and why now is the perfect opportunity to make the switch.

  1. Faster Resolution Times: No more waiting endlessly on hold or getting bounced around departments. With conversational support platforms, help is always at the customer’s fingertips. They can just send a quick message, and the agents can reply promptly - during business hours or at night. Results? Better response rates and resolution rates. This leads to a more satisfied and loyal customer base.
  2. Valuable Data Collection: Conversational support tools gather crucial data that can significantly impact business performance and customer satisfaction. They monitor key metrics like an agent's response time and the time taken to resolve issues, providing insights into team efficiency and areas for improvement. These tools are also adept at tracking collaboration within the team, ultimately boosting overall issue-resolution efficiency.
  3. Cost Efficiency: AI-powered conversational support tools can handle repetitive queries, freeing human agents to tackle more complex issues and enhancing the team's overall productivity. The effective allocation of resources could also reduce the need for additional support staff, leading to cost savings. Furthermore, they are capable of operating 24/7 and handling multiple conversations simultaneously, ensuring continuous, efficient support, delivering prompt responses, and an elevated level of customer service.

Conversational Support vs. Traditional Support: What’s the Difference

Conversational support differs from traditional support channels like ticketing, email, and phone in several ways:

Traditional Support Channels Conversational Support
Mode of Communication Usually formal and one-off. Examples include phone support, email ticketing systems, etc. More informal and ongoing with continuous dialogues often carried on chatbots, messaging apps, or live chats.
Resolution Time Usually longer as it relies on back-and-forth communication, often separated by hours or even days. Typically faster as it aims to resolve issues in real time or as quickly as possible.
Customer Interaction Interaction is mostly transactional, focusing on the specific issue at hand. Interaction tends to be more personalized, providing a continuous conversation thread.
Accessibility Customers may need to switch platforms (e.g., from website to email or phone) to reach support. Support can often be accessed directly on the platform where the customer is already engaged.
Availability Usually available only during specific business hours. Frequently available 24/7, especially with the use of AI chatbots.
Scalability Scalability can be an issue, dependent on human resources. AI-powered solutions can simultaneously handle large volumes of queries, making them highly scalable.

Four Conversational Customer Service Channels

Conversational support typically utilizes one or more of the following channels:

  1. Live Chat: Live chat is a quick, real-time tool for customer support, encouraging higher satisfaction and loyalty. It enables personalized assistance to customers, navigating them deftly through issues.

           Related Read: Best Live Chat Tools for Customer Support Teams

  1. Text Messages: Communication platforms like SMS and WhatsApp are vital in customer interaction. They offer direct brand-to-customer contact, enhancing marketing and support with high message reach.

         Data Source: Statista

  1. Email Support: Despite lacking real-time responsiveness, email support holds a key role in methodical customer interactions. It lets customers voice queries easily so that support can provide thorough answers, enriched now by emerging tools like Slack.

          Related Read: Why Businesses Are Switching to Slack from Email for Customer Support

  1. Ticketing Systems and Team Communication Platforms: Ticketing systems efficiently manage and prioritize customer inquiries. Communication tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams act as unconventional, effective customer support channels, enabling improved collaboration and accessibility, integration with ticketing systems, and workflow automation.

Getting Started with Conversational Support

Implementing conversational support requires careful planning and preparation. Here are some key steps to get started:

Step #1: Assess Business Needs and Goals

  • What are the main goals you want to achieve? Consider metrics like reducing call volume, improving customer satisfaction, lowering costs, increasing revenue, etc.
  • Identify common customer inquiries and pain points. Look at call transcripts, chat logs, and support tickets to find frequent questions and problems.
  • Determine what capabilities are needed. Chatbots can handle common FAQs, simple transactions, lead generation, appointment booking, and more.
  • Define the target audience. Will it serve all customers or specific segments? Should it have different personas?
  • Set realistic expectations on what conversational support can automate. Complex issues still require human agents.

Step #2: Choose the Right Platform

  • Look for a scalable, secure platform with robust AI and NLP capabilities.
  • Ensure the platform provides tools to optimize, monitor, and analyze the conversational experience.
  • Pick a platform that simplifies bot building with an intuitive GUI, templates, conversation management, and training capabilities.
  • Evaluate integration options with your existing CRM, engineering software, and IT help desks.

Step #3: Design Conversational Flows

  • Map out conversation flows based on probable customer paths and responses.
  • Include quick replies, carousels, images, and other elements to improve engagement.
  • Confirm information summaries and follow-up items to close the loop.

Step #4: Integrate with Existing Systems

  • Connect to existing collaboration tools and APIs to access customer data, history, etc.
  • Implement a CRM integration to log interaction history automatically.
  • Enable human handoff capabilities to transfer to a live agent when needed.
  • Set up analytics and dashboards to track KPIs and measure ROI.

Related Read: Learn how ClearFeed helps businesses understand support metrics and improve customer experience

Step #5: Set up Escalation Process

  • Create clear procedures for when a conversation should be handed off to an agent, engineers, or other stakeholders. This may include when the customer asks for an agent or when sensitive information needs to be exchanged.
  • Configure automatic escalation triggers based on things like:
  • Number of tickets in a row
  • Multiple requests for an agent
  • Escalation commands like "agent" or "representative"
  • Set a transfer threshold if conversations exceed a certain length to avoid customer frustration.
  • Analyze analytics to identify topics that consistently lead to escalations and route those directly to agents.
  • Allow agents to transfer conversations back to stakeholders if they can resolve the issue faster. This creates a hybrid experience.

Related Read: Learn how to set up an effective escalation process to improve customer experience

Step #6: Analyzing Performance

Conversational support solutions generate a wealth of data that can be used to analyze and optimize performance. Here are some key ways to measure and improve your conversational support:

  • Identify metrics to track: Look at response rate, resolution rate, escalation rate, CSAT, and total tickets handled. Set goals for each metric and monitor trends over time.
  • Track CSAT scores: Measure customer satisfaction scores from conversational support conversations—segment scores by conversation type and length. Set a target CSAT goal and aim for continuous improvement.
  • Continuously improve: Have a process to take insights from your analytics and make ongoing improvements to support process, escalation strategies, intents, and the knowledge base.

Related Read: Find out how ClearFeed enables businesses to conduct CSAT surveys within Slack

Analyzing the data and insights from your conversational support solution is key to maximizing value. By regularly monitoring metrics and logs, you can identify areas needing improvement and make data-driven optimizations. With continuous analysis and enhancement, your conversational support will become smarter and more effective at resolving customer needs.

Getting the Best Out of Conversational Support with ClearFeed

ClearFeed is a conversational support platform that utilizes advanced AI to help businesses provide effective and personalized customer care. Here are tips to get the best out of conversational support with ClearFeed:

  1. Integrate with Existing Systems: ClearFeed offers seamless integration with existing ticketing systems, CRMs, and engineering tools, enabling a unified and efficient support process. This compatibility means you can merge data and workflows from platforms your team is comfortable with, reducing the learning curve and potential disruption.
Integrated ticketing systems ensure that all customer inquiries are tracked, managed, and resolved without switching between apps. CRM integration provides a holistic view of the customer's history, allowing personalized, relevant responses. The blend with engineering tools fosters cross-departmental collaboration, which is particularly useful for technical issues.
  1. Leverage Conversation Analytics: It offers service analytics to understand customer sentiments, agent performance, Slack channel performance, and other insights that help optimize the customer service experience.
  1. Utilize Automated Responses: You can create pre-defined responses for frequently asked questions. This speeds up response time and lets your support team focus on more complex queries.
  1. Manage Team Workflow: It includes features like ticket assignments, categorization, priority settings, and real-time updates to help manage your support team’s workflow efficiently.

In short, ClearFeed offers a comprehensive set of features to improve your conversational support efficiency, customer experience, and team productivity. Want to know how we can help you get started? Book a demo with our team here.

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