Zendesk Report Reveals Shifting Attitudes Towards AI Support

Conor Cawley

Artificial intelligence and customer support appear to be a match made in heaven, as a new Zendesk report points to changing perspectives about the controversial tech across the industry.

Customer support is one of the most complicated aspects of running a business. While it doesn't actively make you money, ignoring it can have a decidedly detrimental effect on your bottom line. To make matters more confusing, perpetually shifting trends mean that whatever's working today won't necessarily being work tomorrow.

However, as long as you stay up to date on the latest technologies entering the field, you should be able keep your customers happy. And that's where this Zendesk report comes in handy.

Artificial Intelligence Support on the Rise

The report, titled The Zendesk Customer Experience Trends Report 2020, did a thoroughly deep dive into what makes customers and customer support teams tick in 2020. According to Zendesk research, businesses are growing to accept the role of artificial intelligence in customer service, and it's improving productivity by saving time, freeing up resources, and generally improving the customer experience without making everything overly complicated.

AI Usage Graph

Source: Zendesk
Click to expand

“[Artificial intelligence is] driving success among high performing teams that are using AI to deflect tickets, reduce the time that agents spend on answering requests, and efficiently scale customer engagement.”

More specifically, the use of AI-powered chatbots is on the rise, with the number of Zendesk customers using the technology nearly doubling in just the past two years.

However, customers aren't entirely convinced, particularly when you look to older generations. The report showed that more than 50% of Millennials and Gen-Xers are happy to use AI when it comes to simple issues, but are notably more hesitant to do so for complex problems. Additionally, the report showed that users were more willing to interact with an AI-powered bot in search of accuracy over speed, but still users were more likely to avoid them than embrace them.

AI Comfort by Generation

This trend, however, is shifting in favor of artificial intelligence, as is obvious from the generational gap in this data. As the study points out, this is likely due to the fact that “[younger] generations tend to be more aware that they are already engaging with AI, and, having grown up with sophisticated technology, are often more comfortable with its use and savvy as to its benefits and potential.”

More importantly though, this data points to a specific type of artificial intelligence in customer support that is growing substantially in popularity, and getting on board with this trend could make a huge difference for your business.

Self-Service as Automation

According to the Zendesk report, customers feel that fast responses (61%) are the most important aspect of good customer service experiences, while they believe that long wait times (55%) are the most frustrating aspect of bad customer service experiences.

This means that it's safe to say that a self-service option is an undeniable avenue to efficiently address customer support needs at your business, particularly because customers expressly want ways to solve their own problems.

Good Customer Support Experience Graph

Source: Zendesk
Click to expand

“69% of customers want to resolve as many issues as possible on their own, and 63% of customers always or almost always start with a search on a company’s online resources when they have an issue.”

Unfortunately, as the Zendesk report repeats on a number of occasions, self-service is “a missed opportunity” for companies looking to improve their customer support options. Not even 30% of businesses are implementing these solutions, despite 76% of high-performing companies enabling these kinds of feature at their company.

Fortunately, self-service features are the most talked about solution in terms of future roll outs in the coming year, with more companies considering adding the technology next year than are currently using it in 2020.

Customer Support Types Growth

The Future of Customer Service

Yes, artificial intelligence is a scary word to the average customer, but the reality is that AI-powered solutions are already a huge part of customer service. Chatbots can be found on millions of businesses' social media pages, consolidated customer data is fueling decisions across the entire industry, and self-service features are already integrated into your everyday life; you just don't realize it yet.

The only reason that AI-powered customer support hasn't become the norm is that, honestly, it's just not good enough yet. Chatbots still fumble through awkward “conversations,” while customer data provides odd suggestions for products you've already purchased. Fortunately, the future is bright when it comes to the evolution of AI-power customer support.

From the chatbots powered by conversational AI rather than the awkward decision-tree process of the modern era to collaborative data providing comprehensive snapshots of every customers' support needs, it's only a matter of time before you won't be able to tell if you're talking to a robot or a person when solving your service-related problems. And, as far as customer support is concerned, that's a good thing.

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Conor is the Senior Writer for Tech.co. For the last four years, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His extensive background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host tech-centric events like Startup Night at SXSW and the Timmy Awards for Tech in Motion. You can email Conor at conor@tech.co.

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