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  • Steph Lundberg

How ChatGPT handles common Customer Support scenarios


Free vector chatbot virtual assistant abstract concept illustration


The meteoric rise of ChatGPT isn’t just a fluke.


ChatGPT  has real uses for customer support professionals of all kinds, whether you work directly with customers or you lead an awesome support team.


As someone who does both, I’ve found ChatGPT to be really useful as a tool that can:

  • Help me structure emails, help articles, bug reports, etc.

  • Help me with an outline or an initial draft when I’m blocked and having trouble getting started.

  • Help me train my agents by giving them ChatGPT-generated ticket responses and letting them correct tone, style, grammar, errors, and teaching them to improve the responses for our customers.


With so many applications for ChatGPT in customer service, particularly in the realm of drafting customer communications or using ChatGPT to create knowledge base documentation, we wanted to see how it would handle some of the scenarios we see most frequently in our daily work.


How ChatGPT handles common customer support scenarios


1. Requesting a refund


Prompt: A user is asking for a full refund for a yearly subscription of a software product, but he's already a few months into his subscription. Write a message informing the user that we can offer a pro-rated refund instead and cancel his subscription for him if he'd like.

ChatGPT response to common customer support scenarios

My take: This is actually pretty good! I like that it offers a fairly neutral empathy statement (“we understand circumstances change”) and that it gives a straightforward explanation for why our hypothetical company can’t offer a full refund. I also like that it solicits feedback for why the user is canceling.


Given that I didn’t provide any instructions regarding tone, I’m impressed that it’s fairly informal in tone and not too stuffy about policy terms. I’d adjust this just to sound more like me, and change the complimentary close to something less business-formal.


2. Requesting a return


Prompt: A customer purchased shoes and doesn't like them, but they're outside the return window according to our policies. Write a message denying a return or a refund while expressing empathy for their situation.

ChatGPT response to common customer support scenarios

My take: My first impression is that the message is too long. The language is also a little stilted. Although we want to express regret that we’re not able to accept the return of a used item outside the return window, we don’t want to ask forgiveness for something that we’re not responsible for. 


Also, as a support professional, I tend to frame my responses as positively as possible, so I’d focus more on what can be done, like offering a discount or credit and providing help to find a better fit in the future, rather than on the negative of denying the return.


Out of curiosity, I gave it the same prompt again, except this time I asked ChatGPT to write it in an informal, friendly tone:

ChatGPT response to common customer support scenarios

Overall, I prefer the tone of the first response over this one. For starters, the tone of the introductory paragraph in this second response is off in that it’s more flippant than empathetic. If I were the customer, I’d think the company didn’t care that I’m unhappy with the product I spent money on.


I also prefer the more firm billing policy explanation of the first response, and I’d take out the bit about wishing I could bend the rules – it’s unnecessary, and has the potential to invite argument from the customer when there really isn’t any leeway to be had.


3. Requesting a discount


Prompt: A customer is asking for a discount on his software plan, but we don't have any promotions running right now. Write a message explaining this and that he should keep an eye out for the next sale.

ChatGPT response to common customer support scenarios

My take: This is a solid email. It lets the customer know when another sale might happen, where to look out for it, and organically promotes the newsletter.


A recurring theme in ChatGPT’s responses seems to be that it defaults to longer messages and over-explaining decisions, but that can be a good thing when you’re editing down to include only the most important information. In this case, I’d probably eliminate the fourth paragraph entirely, and I’d edit it to be less wordy in general and match my writing style.


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4. Feature request not on roadmap


Prompt: A big customer of ours is asking for a new feature in our software and is threatening to cancel their subscription with us if we don't implement it, but it's not on our roadmap and our product team doesn't want to prioritize it. Write a message explaining why we can't implement the feature while trying to salvage the relationship.

ChatGPT response to common customer support scenarios
ChatGPT response to common customer support scenarios

My take: There are some great elements in this response, although again I find the language a little too ingratiating and formal.


I always like to thank users for their feedback, even when I know we can't take action on it right away. I also like the invitation to continue the conversation with the user to see if we could discover other areas where we could make improvements or help them find a better workflow in the product.


I think it over-explains regarding the product roadmap, and I’d work with my product team before I offered any kind of explanation for why we couldn’t implement a feature that a big customer was asking for.


I didn’t give any instructions in the prompt regarding tone, so I ran it again asking for an informal tone, and again I think ChatGPT went too far in the other direction:

ChatGPT response to common customer support scenarios
ChatGPT response to common customer support scenarios

This response is enthusiastic and has the benefit of being a little shorter than the previous one, but it’s much too bubbly and familiar. If I were the customer, I’d have a hard time taking this no seriously.


5. Escalating a ticket to another team


Prompt: We've been troubleshooting a software issue for a customer and have determined that we need help from our Tier 2 team to fix it for them. Write a message in an informal tone explaining that we're escalating their issue to another team and let them know that we'll keep them updated on the status of their problem.

ChatGPT response to common customer support scenarios

My take: I have to admit, I laughed when I first read this response. ChatGPT seems to read the ‘informal tone’ instruction and immediately take on the persona of a very happy tech hippie / surfer with a particular love for similes.


Having said that, aside from heavily adjusting the tone, there are some great elements here that I would keep. I like that the message manages the customer’s expectations, such as reassuring them that we’ll keep them updated and that they should reach out if they need anything else. 


I also appreciate that it thanks the customer for their patience and reiterates that we understand the urgency of their issue, thus expressing respect for their time.


6. App outage


Prompt: We're having a complete outage of our Android app and have been flooded with emails from users reporting errors when they open the app. Write a message in an informal tone confirming that we're aware of the outage and that our engineers are investigating it. Let them know that we will keep them updated as we know more.

ChatGPT response to common customer support scenarios

My take: Of all the responses to prompts asking for a friendlier voice, this one works the best. It actually calls to mind Slack’s brand voice, as they take a similar approach to incident messaging and release notes. 


Whether you would send something like this out during an outage would of course depend on your product/service and how seriously blocked your customers are by the outage, but I could see something like this working for companies comfortable with a little more flair in their customer communications.


Again, aside from the continued gratuitous use of metaphors (you probably never need to mention ninjas in your customer communications), ChatGPT includes all of the points I would in my outage messaging: confirming that we’re aware of the outage, that we’re investigating, that we’re sorry for the disruption, that we’ll be keeping everyone updated, and that we’re grateful for our customers’ patience while we work to get everything back up as soon as possible.


7. Abusive customer


Prompt: A customer is very upset about a bug in our product and is using abusive language with one of our customer service representatives. Write a message in an informal tone to de-escalate this customer and explain that unless they can remain respectful, we won't be able to help them anymore.

ChatGPT response to common customer support scenarios

My take: I was holding my breath waiting for ChatGPT to finish composing this response, and I was very pleasantly surprised. 


So much so that I think this particular scenario is a great demonstration of the value of using generative AI as a supplementary tool in support: it provides even seasoned support professionals like myself a jumping-off point for trickier support situations that require a lot of thought, judgment, and nuance.


This response gets a lot of things right:

  • Immediately validates the customer’s feelings about the problem they’re having.

  • Identifies the behavior that needs to be corrected and backs up the support team.

  • Reiterates that the support team still wants to help the customer.

  • Offers the customer an opportunity to start over.

  • Repeats the support team’s desire to work with the customer productively.


As with all of ChatGPT’s responses, I’d adapt this message to match my style and the company’s voice, but this is a really useful email first draft.


A sidekick who’s never short on words


ChatGPT’s handling of the seven scenarios above clearly demonstrates its value to support professionals: even when we’re short on words, it never is.


It’s a sidekick, though, not the main act. Like any good sidekick, ChatGPT needs training and guidance, so be sure to adapt its responses for your style, your team, and your customers. 


(And yes, I wrote that sentence myself. Apparently ChatGPT’s affinity for similes rubbed off on me.)


If you’re looking for ideas on how to get started, this ultimate guide to using ChatGPT in customer support might be just the ticket. 



 

Written by Steph Lundberg

Steph is a writer and fractional Customer Support leader and consultant. You can usually find her crafting, hanging with her kids, or spending entirely too much time on Tumblr.


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