What is Zendesk Advanced AI and how can you use it?
At Relate this year, the company announced Zendesk Advanced AI is now publicly available. So what is it, and how does it differ from other offerings?
First, it's an add-on for their product Suite. Currently available for Professional and Enterprise Suite. This add-on expands on the existing AI offerings in the Zendesk Suite. It aims to help you to save costs, improve customer interactions, and reduce agent onboarding time.
It consists of a range of features which we will dive into soon. But first, let's summarise Zendesk's "Standard" AI offering compared to Zendesk Advanced AI.
What is the difference between Zendesk Standard AI and its upgrade?
So far, the platform boasted these AI and ML-enhanced features:
- Answer Bot (for end-users) with its Flow Builder (for admins)
- Suggested macros (for agents)
- Knowledge in the context panel (for agents)
- Content cues (for content managers)
Currently, those are included with Suite Professional and Enterprise plans. They are rebranded to Zendesk AI. Some of the features have been around for a while, and I personally liked and utilised Answer Bot and the Flow Builder a lot.
How does Zendesk Advanced AI work?
The advanced features work across the entire customer service experience allowing faster value extraction from AI. It includes the following components:
- Customer facing interaction
- Agent assistance through better routing and customer insights
- Manager & admin support through suggested improvements and better reporting options
Okay, that sounds very much like marketing talk. So let's break it down by functionality within the product.
What are Zendesk Advanced AI features
Within the Zendesk suite, eligible customers (more on that later) will have access to the following features: enhanced bots, smart triage, AI-enriched details on the customers and suggested content.
Here are the new features for Zendesk Advanced AI:
They provide an enhanced bot experience for messaging and email. They come pre-trained to understand the top customer issues specific to certain industries. Admins gain access to advanced autoreplies and pre-trained conversation bots. Zendesk Advanced AI customises automated responses using AI predictions about intent, language, and sentiment. Compared to the Answer Bot, pre-trained conversation bots automatically suggest training phrases for you, making them more effective in addressing customer issues.
Intelligent triage is a feature powered by AI that automatically identifies a ticket's subject (intent), the language it's written in, and the customer's message tone (positive or negative sentiment).
You can use this information to route tickets to the right groups of agents automatically, enhance your views and enrich them with details, and utilise it in reports in Zendesk Explore to spot trends.
Intelligence in the Context Panel
As the name of the feature suggests, it's about the details agents can now access via the context panel as part of Zendesk Advanced AI. All the information from intelligent triage is displayed here (intent, sentiment, language).
But that's not all – the panel even suggests the top three most helpful macros based on the ticket's text. Agents can apply these suggested macros with just a short click, saving time and effort.
Macro Suggestions for Admins
Macros are a time-saving and consistency-enhancing resource for agents. However, determining the optimal macros to create can be a complex task for admins and managers. To simplify this process, the macro suggestions feature provides valuable insights into which macros will benefit agents and end users the most.
It's worth noting the distinction between macro suggestions and suggested macros, as they are related yet different features:
- Macro suggestions (Zendesk Advanced AI) offer administrators recommendations for creating new macros, drawing from recurring content found in all agent responses across the account.
- Suggested macros (Zendesk "Standard" AI), on the other hand, provide agents with suggestions regarding the most suitable existing macro to apply to a specific ticket based on the content of that particular ticket.
You can optimise macro utilisation and streamline support operations by leveraging these distinct features.
Why should I use Zendesk Advanced AI?
The add-on optimises your customer service scalability even with limited resources. With their purpose-built and pre-trained AI models, you can leverage years' worth of Zendesk datasets and a diverse range of use cases quickly.
Zendesk Advanced AI offers many benefits that can significantly enhance your customer support experience:
- Enhanced bot deflection: According to Zendesk research, Advanced AI can increase bot deflection rates by up to three times, streamlining customer interactions and allowing them to resolve issues independently.
- Efficient ticket routing: Automated routing ensures that the right ticket reaches the appropriate agent, resulting in more accurate and timely responses.
- Faster issue resolution: Zendesk Advanced AI provides contextual intelligence, guiding agents to solve customer issues quickly, allowing them to focus on high-value tasks essential to your customers' business.
- Continuous service optimisation: constantly improve your content, give your agents better macros, and enhance overall service quality.
Zendesk Advanced AI is set apart because they are ready to use immediately (for specific industries), saving you valuable time. So say goodbye to lengthy model training periods and the need for specialised developers or data science resources.
Who can use it?
First of all, as of the time of writing, Zendesk Advanced AI supports the following industries:
- Retail and e-commerce: B2C only (no manufacturers, wholesale, or B2B)
- Software: Applications or platforms only (no hardware companies)
- Financial services: Traditional and online banking only.
Furthermore, you will need a certain threshold of tickets. During my research, I came across varying numbers ranging from 1.500 tickets per month in the last six months to 5.000 tickets over the previous six months—most of them in a particular language. And your Zendesk must pass a "right model fit".
In a nutshell, the current advice is to contact your account manager at Zendesk. Apparently, they have an internal tool to tell you whether you are eligible.
What are the current limitations?
We just read about the requirements for Zendesk Advanced AI. But another critical factor is to check for the limitations:
- An account-specific model is not supported. The advanced AI comes with its own model. However, it's trained on 18 billion tickets. So as long as you are in the right industry (see above), this will be a huge headstart.
- Only pre-defined intent. Currently, it comes with the intent set up by Zendesk, and you can't modify or add your own.
- You can't work with your data to improve intents and train new ones. At the moment, it's only the one provided by Zendesk.
However, the plan is to add this in one form or another within 2023. So this stays interesting.
How to set up Zendesk Advanced AI
Let's break down who is eligible to use the new add-on.
Using Advanced AI
Here are the high-level steps:
- Turn it on - start with intelligent triage to start enriching conversations.
- Monitor & Validate - it's recommended to let it run for two weeks and look into the results during that time.
- Organise - start implementing new data into your workflows, e.g. unique views or enhance existing ones with intent and sentiment.
- Update your routing - use traditional, trigger-based routing or omnichannel to enhance your routing based on intent and sentiment.
- Train your team - even if this is obvious, telling your team what you are doing and why and how to get the most out of it is worth mentioning.
Who can help with the setup for Zendesk AI?
Your account manager can help you with the licensing and pricing and check the model fit.
To implement it, you can work with a Zendesk partner like us or attend a training course on how to configure Zendesk Advanced AI.
How much does Zendesk Advanced AI cost
Of course, cool new features like this often come with a price tag. Therefore, the Advanced AI of Zendesk will be available as an add-on with an additional fee per agent/month (or year, depending on your subscription).
This add-on gives you access to the following:
- Advanced bots
- Intelligent triage
- Intelligent insights and suggestions
- Macro suggestions for admins
The other good question to ask is - how much is it worth?
If you don't disrupt your business using AI, your competitor might do it for you.
Is it worth it?
According to Zendesk's research, their Advanced AI implementation has significantly improved support operations. For example, they have reported saving 220 hours per month, which is a substantial amount of time. While it's likely that Zendesk has a large support team, this level of time savings can still translate to significant benefits for organisations of various sizes.
In addition to time savings, Zendesk's research indicates a 10% increase in productivity with Zendesk Advanced AI. This boost in efficiency means that your support team could handle 10% more requests per month. Alternatively, the time gained from this heightened productivity could be invested in enhancing the quality of each customer interaction.
But let's look at another factor - what if you don't do anything?
What's the cost of inaction?
Embracing AI-driven innovation within your business is a proactive approach that can help you stay ahead. Or, to put it another way: If you don't disrupt your business using AI, your competitor might do it for you.
My personal review of Zendesk Advanced AI
The new AI-enhanced features are exciting stuff. Within a few months of the ChatGPT and Open AI hype, Zendesk has demonstrated impressive progress in this area. While Zendesk may not be known for rapid change or disruption anymore since its startup days, it has developed a robust and well-thought-out product relatively quickly.
My key highlights:
- Intelligent triage to address a major pain point and leverage AI
- Useful tools for agents and admins
- A promising and ambitious roadmap for future improvements
Overall, Zendesk's Advanced AI offering showcases the company's commitment to innovation and delivering exceptional customer service solutions. They avoided jumping on the hype for the sake of it and came up with a feature set that looks well thought through and robust.
See you in a few weeks in the next edition of Zendesk Edge 👋🏻
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