How To Use AI Automation For Live Chat Support

Today’s consumers expect convenient, fast, and efficient live chat support 24/7/365 - a tall order from CX leaders that need to reduce operational costs. To keep up with consumers’ demands without breaking the bank, brands are powering their live chat experiences with AI automation.


Leveraging AI automation for live chat can lower response times, boost CSAT, allow agents to do more strategic work, cut operational costs, and yield a 912% ROI. That’s right, brands are actually generating revenue through their AI solution.


Service organizations can count on AI automation to quickly handle large quantities of live chat queries without sacrificing the quality of support. It even scales to take on holiday surges and unprecedented ticket spikes.   


But what happens when a brand isn’t equipped to manage live chat ticket volumes? The inevitable increase in wait times and decrease in support quality threaten customer retention, loyalty, and revenue. All it takes is one negative service experience for more than half of consumers to leave a brand behind forever. It’s not a risk brands should be willing to take. 


The alternative of hiring and training new employees is time-consuming and expensive - especially when it’s seasonal. Hiring additional staff for live chat is especially challenging given the channel’s unpredictable nature


When done right, AI automation is a reliable and cost-efficient solution for brands that want to provide the quality of service that their customers expect from live chat support. 


So, what is the “right” way of using AI automation for live chat? 


Let’s take a look at the key considerations, best practices, and essential steps to take when implementing AI automation into your customer service chat experience. 


How to get the most out of AI automation for live chat:

Understand your automation decisions

When implementing AI automation for live chat, it is important to keep the best use cases in mind. High volumes of repetitive ticket types such as “track order” and subscription updates are perfect for AI automation because they can be handled with speed and precision. But take into account that each brand’s automation decisions should address their specific needs.


To make the best choices and take full advantage of the benefits of AI automation, start with these two steps:


1. AI Strategy and Solutions Manager, Lauren Giosa, says “the most important starting point for automating live chat is to identify your top inquiries.”

What are the most common tier 1 ticket types that your brand receives via live chat? You’ll want to focus on those when making automation decisions.


2. Know when not to use automation. It wouldn’t make sense to put your AI in charge of unique tickets or resolve problems that haven't happened before. Using automation where it doesn’t belong can cause errors and create even more work for your support team. 


Understanding the full scope of the automation technology you choose to implement is essential to avoiding oversights and getting the most out of your solution. If you’re working with a third-party partner, the right team will guide you through the planning process and provide the best automation practices for your brand’s specific needs. 


Leverage conversational AI that takes action

Chatbots and other automation tools are commonly used to deflect customers; redirecting them to a self-service tool. The best a brand can hope for is that the self-service option is enough for customers to figure out their own problems. But since only 9% of support journeys are resolved solely within self-service portals, the majority of deflected customers end up spending even more time and energy trying to connect with your team until their issue is finally resolved.


Conversational AI not only engages with your customers, but some solutions are capable of actually performing tasks such as changing shipping addresses, processing returns, and updating subscription preferences. Implementing live chat AI automation that can take action ensures customers’ problems are fully solved the first time they reach out for help. Your customers will feel taken care of and your team will be alleviated from large volumes of repetitive live chat tickets.


Go beyond the chat buttons

Live chat automation tools like chatbots often use button-based chat support. While there are times when buttons are useful, most context can only be provided through freeform responses. 


With buttons, customers provide definitive answers; they can indicate that they want to check their order status. However, they cannot communicate “the why” behind their request or convey emotion. A customer that is simply seeking a “track order” link has different needs than one that is upset they paid for expedited shipping when their order hasn’t arrived over a week later. 


Brands that provide a chat experience that relies only on buttons are missing out on this valuable information that can help them deliver better service and improve their overall business. 

AI Agent for Live Chat

It can also be frustrating for customers that want to type an inquiry in their own words and not be confined to limited pre-determined response options. When they are unable to get the support they need via live chat, they are likely to reach out through another channel to get their problem solved - taking up more of their (and your team’s) time and effort. 


Leveraging an AI automation solution that analyzes freeform text removes these restrictions. An AI technology that uses Natural Language Processing and Natural Language Understanding rather than keyword detection will offer the best results. NLP and NLU go beyond surface-level intents to understand each individual customer’s contact reasons, motivations, and sentiment. This ensures customers feel heard, cared for, and get the service they need.


Brand-aligned is better

90% of consumers expect to have a consistent brand experience across all platforms and channels - customer service is no exception. When implementing AI automation for live chat support, seek out a customizable solution that will enable you to build response flows that remain consistent with your brand language and policies. 


As you’re creating response flows, be mindful of the nature of the communication channel. Live chat is in real-time, the most immediate way for customers to engage with brands, and tends to be more friendly and informal. The responses and language should mirror that. 


If you’re not sure where to start or need some guidance, Lauren suggests collaborating with your AI partner (if you’re using a third party). “At Thankful, we help provide in-depth order-related chat responses that reflect your brand identity,” she says.    


The Head of Customer Experience for a premier skincare brand attests to the benefit of collaborating with an AI partner when developing response flows. After already deploying an AI Agent for live chat support, the brand underwent policy changes. With guidance, they were able to rework response flows accordingly. 


“Their team was so willing to help out,” the Head of Customer Experience said, recognizing “customizability” and “ability to implement changes quickly” as key values. 


Easily modifiable technology makes it possible for brands to align their customer service operations with new business objectives without the wait. 


The truth about AI automation and live chat support

Following this guide will lay the groundwork for success, so long as you bear in mind that there is no singular “right way” or a one-size-fits-all approach to using AI automation for live chat. 


Each brand has specific needs, which are likely to evolve over time. It’s imperative to use a solution that is modifiable and empowers your brand to advance and achieve new goals. The right AI partner will guide you through the planning and implementation process; providing expertise on how to best optimize AI automation for your business.


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