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Effortless Customer Service: AI & SMS Marketing

Learn how AI and SMS marketing can help businesses score 5-star customer service.

Illustration of a brain with connections to customer smartphones
March 14, 2024
Kathleen Crampton
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Reading time about 12 min

Generative AI, or artificial intelligence, has changed business's foreseeable future by advancing and expanding what humans can do. The true definition of AI is a computer that simulates human intelligence and behavior, but that’s just the umbrella. Underneath are machine learning, natural language processing, robotics, deep learning, and more — all parts of AI.

These days, consumers encounter AI daily, even though they might not know it. AI SMS chatbots and virtual assistants are probably the most well-known feature, but consumers also provide information through website cookies, clicks, and online and social interactions that trigger real-time data processing and predictions through AI algorithms that assess their preferences.

Sounds like a lot, right? That’s what this guide is for — to help businesses understand the need to leverage this constantly evolving tool for customer service. With AI, customer service not only becomes faster, more efficient, and available around the clock, but it also helps to personalize the customer experience through machine learning. Pair that with your SMS marketing tactics; you have robust, powerful ways to connect with customers and grow your business.

Though AI is prevalent in various parts of the business, in this article, we’ll focus on how AI and SMS marketing can improve customer service and how they can be used together to create a proactive and seamless approach to interacting with and understanding customers.

How Does AI Improve Customer Service?

AI improves customer service by automating repetitive tasks, creating personalized interactions, providing real-time support, identifying and resolving issues, and being available 24/7.

Businesses across countless industries use AI to improve their customer experiences, from automating tasks to using ChatGPT for marketing. From e-commerce to banking to brick-and-mortar services, AI is changing the landscape of how consumers and brands interact — and usually for the better. Let’s dig deeper into how customer service can be improved with AI.

 

AI Automates Repetitive Tasks

AI decreases the need for human intervention. We’re not saying that human tasks are going away — they’re just changing. With AI, customer service teams can reduce the time it takes to perform a task and even offload it to AI. Employees can focus on more complex and strategic activities, while AI efficiently handles routine and repetitive tasks.

Illustration of colleagues (in less formal attire) collaborating/strategizing in an office setting

By automating tasks with SMS AI, customer service teams are also cutting down on human error because machines are less likely to make mistakes than we are. AI-enabled features can spot typos, missing data, and data gaps at breakneck speeds, so businesses can get things done accurately and quickly.

AI Creates Personalized Interactions

Remember when we said that consumers interact with AI on a daily basis? Every click, scroll, comment, social interaction, online search, purchase, and more can be tracked by AI and then turned into customer insights. AI uses all types of customer behavior as fuel for its intelligent analytics.

For example, businesses can use customer data in AI SMS chatbot responses and conversations, provide personalized content and product recommendations, use natural language processing to better identify customer sentiment and tone of voice, and segment customers based on characteristics, preferences, and behaviors.

The big takeaway is that AI creates personalized interactions to help customers feel understood and valued.

 

AI Provides Real-Time Support

Because AI is extremely fast, it can make decisions, capture current customer actions, and predict future behaviors in real-time. Instead of taking the time to analyze past and present data and strategize how to reach customers where they are right now, businesses can tap into AI to do all of these tasks in a fraction of the time.

But this doesn’t only help customer service teams. Customers can receive support quickly and get tailored experiences based on their interactions with your brand. This is immensely helpful, as timing is everything in lifecycle marketing.

 

AI Is Available 24/7

Machines don’t sleep, which is helpful for customer service, especially for a global brand with customers in various time zones. AI is there day and night, processing data, producing insights and analytics, responding to customers, and resolving issues. So while customer service teams get much-needed beauty sleep, customers are still being cared for with SMS AI.

Illustration/image of someone using a chatbot/virtual assistant at night

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What Are Some Examples of AI-Powered Customer Service?

Examples of AI-powered customer service include chatbots, virtual assistants, and predictive analytics. Let’s review each one in more detail.

 

Chatbots

Companies are quickly jumping on the chatbot train to take advantage of this customer service AI powerhouse. In fact, by 2027, chatbots are predicted to become the primary customer service channel for about 25% of businesses. Why? Well, one of the reasons is that they save a ton of time. Customer service employees no longer have to manually answer every single customer question that comes their way. Instead, the AI SMS chatbot fields every inquiry or conversation with preset, scripted responses.

Now, this doesn’t mean that chatbots should replace human interaction; instead, they should supplement the human aspect of customer service. Think about answering simple questions, directing customers to helpful information, tracking an order, etc. With 86% of customers preferring human interaction over chatbots, getting the combination right is important.

 

Virtual Assistants

Sample Text Message

Many people confuse chatbots with virtual assistants, but they are different. Virtual assistants are like an amped-up version of an SMS AI bot.

They don’t rely on scripted responses, instead combining natural language processing and machine learning to carry on a more natural conversation with customers until they decide that the interaction should be pushed to a human (based on its analysis of customer sentiment or specific questions). So, when a customer uses a brand’s SMS AI virtual assistant, they can ask questions, have a back-and-forth conversation, and overall feel like they’re chatting with a person.

Virtual assistants can determine customer intent by understanding topics and using past conversations to influence the next ones, continually improving to provide more customized, personal, and human-sounding conversations.

 

Predictive Analytics

Real-time decision-making and support mean real-time predictions about customer behavior. AI uses a powerful little thing called predictive analytics to help businesses understand customers’ wants, needs, and habits.

Predictive analytics in AI SMS marketing means more data and insights at the business’ fingertips to give customers a more personalized and constantly improving experience at their fingertips.

How Can SMS Marketing Be Used for Customer Service?

SMS marketing can be used for customer service with convenient, timely, engaging, and personal text messages. Let’s learn how.

 

SMS Marketing Is Convenient

First and foremost, SMS marketing is super convenient for customers. With hundreds of millions of people who own smartphones across the globe, it only makes sense to reach them on the devices they use the most. When they have questions, concerns, or need information, all they have to do is text. And with SMS AI-powered two-way texting, they’ll get answers quickly.

But the next thing to know about text marketing 101 is that it’s also convenient for businesses. Multiple textable number options, bulk texting, and more make customer service easy for a company’s specific setup, all while saving time.

 

SMS Marketing Is Timely

Sample Text Message

Timing is everything in many aspects of life — especially in customer service. SMS marketing features allow businesses to send relevant messages to customers quickly. That means less guessing about order updates, scheduled appointments, purchase policies, and so on. With timely notifications, your customers will be nurtured and feel like their questions are being answered before they ask them.

SMS Marketing Drives Engagement & Loyalty

With sky-high open rates, text messages are one of the main methods of communication for consumers. When businesses capitalize on this, they’re ensuring their messages are being opened and read — which drives engagement. Now, this doesn’t mean that customers will interact with old messages; there are SMS best practices to follow that will motivate them to click, reply, and so on. When in doubt, use these SMS templates for customer service to get your creative juices flowing.

But text marketing doesn’t just drive engagement; it also boosts customer loyalty. Through reminder campaigns, recurring texts, and SMS customer segmentation strategies, businesses can provide personalized messages based on where each person is in their customer journey. Additionally, businesses can build text-based loyalty programs with special offers and incentives to keep customers returning.

 

SMS Marketing Creates Personalized Interactions

Sample Text Message

In customer service, personalization is key. You want your customers to talk about their interactions with your brand as almost a white-glove service that’s personal, helpful, and nurturing. With AI SMS marketing, you can create customer segments based on demographics, preferences, purchase histories, locations, and more, but you can also have all that data processed and analyzed to make predictions of future customer behavior. What does that mean? Interactions will continually be improved upon; customer needs will constantly be anticipated and evaluated, and, most importantly, they’ll feel valued.

Don’t forget that you can always find ways to improve customer service by sending surveys via text to prompt customer feedback.

What Are Some Examples of SMS-Powered Customer Service?

Some examples of SMS-powered customer service include order updates and cart abandonment notifications, two-way texting, and appointment reminders.

 

Order Updates & Cart Abandonment Notifications

Most online and mobile consumers have probably received text message updates regarding orders and shipments (if they’re subscribed to text lists, of course). That’s because SMS marketing is a straightforward way to keep customers in the loop. Text automation takes the manual work out of sending messages based on triggered events, like a purchase, a shipment, or an abandoned cart. (Learn more about how to create an abandoned cart SMS message).

Plus, customers want information ASAP. In a post-pandemic world, reassuring your customers that shipping is getting back on track is a good idea. Learn more about SMS text automation for your customer service needs.

 

Two-Way Texting

Two-way texting is where SMS and AI meet. Customer service teams can leverage the seamless feature of two-way text messaging and the power of AI to produce meaningful and helpful one-to-one conversations — all with a human element.

And these conversations don’t necessarily have to be started by customers. Say that your business has automated text messages set up for cart abandonment. A triggered message is sent to a customer, but you want to ensure that any questions they might have about the product or return policy are answered to complete the purchase. In the text, ask them to respond with any questions. Then, when the customer replies, the AI SMS chatbot or virtual assistant is triggered so that a two-way convo can ensue.

 

Appointment & Payment Reminders

The service industry relies on customers keeping appointments and paying for timely services. These two elements are crucial for restaurants, home maintenance companies, beauty and skincare services, and more. One key feature of SMS marketing is reminder campaigns for appointments, reservations, and payments. Text reminders can be scheduled to be sent a specified number of days before an appointment or reservation to get confirmation from clients. SMS and AI are harnessed to provide easy ways to confirm, reschedule, or cancel and answer customer questions precisely and quickly.

The Future of AI & SMS Marketing in Customer Service

It’s exciting to think about the future of AI and SMS marketing in customer service and what both will bring to the marketing and customer service landscape. Almost half of consumers say they would use AI more often if their customer experience were more convenient and seamless. So, it only makes sense for businesses to transform their customer service and marketing strategies to use these AI and SMS tools to their advantage.

Here’s how AI and SMS marketing might look in the future:

  • SMS AI bots and virtual assistants will most likely have a larger presence in customer service to allow constant communication with customers without needing employee intervention.
  • AI SMS customer service will probably become hyper-personalized as AI algorithms become more sophisticated and better identify customer intent beyond “positive” and “negative.”
  • AI-powered SMS marketing has the opportunity to seamlessly integrate with other customer service channels, providing a unified and consistent customer experience and a holistic view across all channels and touchpoints.

With advancements in AI technologies and the foundation of SMS marketing, businesses will have the opportunity to create deeper customer connections, build loyalty, boost engagement, and gain a competitive edge in the ever-evolving landscape of customer service.

Learn more about AI and SMS by starting a 14-day free trial. Happy texting! 

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FAQs

The benefits of using AI for customer service include automation of repetitive tasks, personalized interactions, real-time support, identifying and resolving issues, and availability all day, every day.

The future of AI in customer service is centered around delivering highly personalized, efficient, and proactive customer experiences by constantly improving its machine learning algorithms, predictive analytics, and natural language processing.

Learn more about AI and SMS marketing for customer service on the EZ Texting blog, where we dive into topics covering top trends in AI and everything from how to drive engagement, boost loyalty, and nurture the customer journey through SMS marketing.

Some challenges to using AI and SMS marketing for customer service include multichannel data processing and the importance of the human touch. Consumers still want to feel like they’re speaking to another person, so keeping that human element in AI SMS chatbots and virtual assistants is crucial.

SMS marketing is just one branch of a customer service strategy, in addition to email, website, and social channels. When all of the customer history data across all touchpoints can be stored, processed, and analyzed, businesses will be able to have a more holistic view of their audience and better predict and cater to their needs.

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