Zendesk adds AI capabilities to customer support solutions

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

By democratizing access to these solutions, organizations can better understand intent and sentiment through account-specific, data-driven models tailored to individual use cases and drive faster resolutions, the company said.

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

According to the CX Accelerator report, starters (companies in the earliest stages of implementing CX strategy) are indeed lagging behind in terms of chatbot and AI implementation, with 44% more APAC champions using a mix of chatbots and human representation it’s about customer service channels.

According to the study, this is partly because while AI technology has improved over the past five years, software vendors are not yet passing 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 bring accessible CX-AI to businesses of all sizes.

Leveraging proprietary industry knowledge and insights from trillions of customer data points, the technology applies a vertical lens to create custom models for businesses that are able to identify the intent, language, and sentiment of each customer interaction, according to Zendesk.

This approach to applying machine learning creates more personalized and informed interactions to better serve customers. According to the CX Accelerator report, among companies using chatbots, champions in APAC are 45% more likely than starters to cite its pre-configured logic and parameters, successfully helping customers reach the right channel for their specific issue highly individual and relevant customer experience.

Specific requests, such as “I’m having trouble with the payment,” can be automatically sent to an agent in charge of billing for faster resolution, while requests that contain only all-capitalized or sarcastic language are flagged as negatives mood and will be directed to the front of the queue.

According to Zendesk, the updates include the following options:

  • Direct and prioritize revenue drivers instantly and ensure agents are working on business-critical requests
  • Analyze the distribution of requests so companies can better plan operations, collaborate across departments, and identify improvement opportunities, backed by data for more efficient CX operations
  • Automatically guide agents in real time on how best to solve a customer issue, understand context, recommend solutions, and enhance coaching and training with valuable insights
  • Continuously increase accuracy as AI solutions receive feedback on predictions and recommendations
  • Automatically discover sensitive information to meet compliance and security requirements, or extract sensitive data such as names, addresses, phone numbers, usernames, and financial information for use in workflows

All of these features come standard and are included with Zendesk Suite Enterprise Edition.

Wendy Johnstone, Chief Operating Officer, Zendesk APAC, says: “When it comes to helping organizations of all sizes improve their CX delivery, an important part of the strategy is breaking down the barriers to entry to adoption – and advanced technologies like AI and machines – learning is often not accessible without expensive upfront costs.

“Zendesk analysis shows that 80% of requests can be narrowed down to just 20 issues, and this knowledge is incredibly helpful when it comes to streamlining and improving CX processes. Our approach puts our customer experience teams first, every step of the way, with pre-trained staff and machine learning tools that can do more, faster, and more effectively. These tools are ready to use out of the box and will continue to learn and improve over time as organizations adapt the tools based on their own unique vulnerabilities.”

Shelly Kramer, Founding Partner of Futurum Research, says: “I’m a big fan of anything that improves the customer experience, and the ability to triage requests is a fundamental element, not only for CX efficiency, but also for customer satisfaction . Zendesk’s AI tools nail it when it comes to determining customer intent and sentiment quickly and easily, allowing for quick routing to the right agent and quick identification of areas for process improvement be able.

“This ensures the quick (sometimes instantaneous) resolution of customer issues, helps the customer service team stay agile (especially during busy periods like the holiday season) and provides business benefits in terms of hours/costs saved. There is nothing that is different about this new feature.”

Cristina Fonseca, vice president of product, Zendesk, says: “Instead of presenting customers with bots that aren’t fully trained, which leads to frustration and often lost business, Zendesk’s fundamentally different approach takes the burden and complexity off customers’ shoulders and enables organizations to build powerful applications on a strong foundation.”