Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
The pandemic has accelerated the onset of new technologies across industries. With artificial intelligence (AI) expected to grow by 21%, reaching $62 billion in 2022, it’s no wonder nearly half of CIOs said they’ve either already AI or plan to add it to their tech stacks in the next year. And with record-high numbers of Americans leaving their jobsAI has moved from a “nice-to-have” technology to an essential way to optimize your teams’ work and keep everyone feeling productive.
The question for most businesses is no longer whether to adopt AI — it’s how to best integrate it into processes that scale with the company. Even though companies have spent the last two years implementing new technologies, often under tight deadlines and without a clear plan of what will come next, the process can still feel intimidating. The potential costs, time and loss of productivity associated with major changes are enough for anyone to keep putting it off.
Here’s the thing: Implementing AI doesn’t have to be arduous, time-consuming or difficult on your teams. The most important step is the first one, which is choosing the right kind of solution to support your customers and enable your team members. Point solutions might bring brief relief, but they ultimately add one more dissonant system to a long list of apps your teams shuffle through every day. Plus, they don’t always play well with others, meaning they can’t help with every task that would benefit from the power of AI. An AI-powered support automation platform connects the systems you already use, allowing you to simplify processes, increase ROI and align your teams for success.
Change can be overwhelming, and you may feel like you’re getting left behind the latest innovations, but here are three ways leaders can let go of their AI FOMO and start endeavoring into the future.
1. Centralize your knowledge base
Anyone working with a hodgepodge of point solutions has been through this: Team members must move between systems constantly to find the information needed to accomplish their tasks. All that shuffling wastes time, frustrates team members and risks information falling through the cracks. It also creates discrepancies that threaten to make their way deep into your team’s work, contributing to confusion and working against the goal of a single source of truth.
It’s not enough for your data to exist just anywheere. If you’re going to empower your teams To do their best work and satisfy your customers’ growing expectations, you need quick, accurate self-service options. Teams get more done without shoulder-tapping a co-worker or digging through a company handbook; customers get answers without sitting through a lengthy wait on hold. Just because everything is recorded somewhere — in legacy systems, cloud storage and even as tacit knowledge — it doesn’t mean it’s easy to find or use.
Adding essential documents like operating procedures, product specifications, company policies and troubleshooting handbooks to a centralized knowledge base lets organizations build out a hub for their most frequently asked questions. With a knowledge base that’s part of a support automation platform, you’ll also learn from the questions you receive: what’s asked most, what answers you’re still lacking and when it’s most necessary to bring in a human for help.
2. Integrate what works
Another place to start your implementation of AI is by integrating apps (Salesforce, Jira et al) into a support automation platform. By adding those systems to your company’s centralized knowledge base, you’ll be eliminating silos that slow down work and lead to frustrations among your team and enabling team members to find data from any connected program in seconds.
3. Add a chatbot to save time and increase customer satisfaction
Once you’ve established a rich knowledge base, you can introduce an AI-powered conversational chatbot to act as the first level of support for customers and team members alike. Most organizations that implement a conversational chatbot can deflect the majority of all inquiries, resulting in more satisfied customers, far fewer service tickets and more time for vast teams to engage in high-level, human-centered work. For team members, that could mean surfacing a document, pulling contact information from an integrated CRM or even sending an email as part of an automated workflow. The bot can answer customers’ FAQs, collect contact information for a potential lead and even share a relevant page on your website.
Chatbots are often on a company website, but they can also integrate into a variety of chat interfaces (eg Slack, Google Hangout, etc.) so users have round-the-clock access to self-serve solutions even when they’re not your website. Because the technology is recursive, the chatbot learns from each interaction, improving with use. In addition, the bot offers a simple prompt to get feedback from each user. That insight, combined with data about common questions and needs, can fuel improvements to product, sales, marketing and retention strategies.
Another feature of an AI-powered chatbot is that it knows when it doesn’t have the answers. A bot that works as part of a robust support automation platform can seamlessly reach for a human expert to help with a question that doesn’t have a clear answer. It can either connect a user immediately to a “human in the loop” or create a ticket with contact information so the user gets a quick response. When the question is answered, it’s logged and added to the knowledge base, meaning the chatbot will be able to tackle a similar question the next time it’s asked. Over time, the bot will escalate fewer and fewer issues, improving its interactions with customers and saving your team from repetitive tasks.
Building a knowledge base, integrating apps and adding a conversational chatbot for internal and external FAQs are three simple ways to start implementing AI. A support automation platform simplifies how organizations solve problems for customers and team members by connecting seamlessly with a company’s tech stack, eliminating silos and making data instantly accessible. Because AI improves with use, you’ll have a solution that grows with your business. As the knowledge base expands and AI handles more inquiries and initiates more processes, your team can spend their time creating instead of searching for answers. By choosing a platform rather than a point solution, organizations can use AI to optimize their resources, empower their team members and provide great customer experience.