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  • Writer's pictureNouran Smogluk

Zendesk Advanced AI: Best Practices to Improve Your Customer Support

Zendesk is an extremely powerful customer service software. That’s great, but sometimes it can feel like it’s so powerful that it’s hard to keep track of all of its features and everything that they can do.


If you’re a customer service leader using Zendesk and interested in the new Zendesk Advance AI add-on, you’re in the right place.  This overview of Zendesk’s Advanced AI features contains everything you need to know to decide if it’s something that you could (or should) implement. 


What is the Zendesk Advanced AI add-on?


Zendesk Advanced AI is a set of AI features that are built for customer service teams. It’s offered as an add-on from the Zendesk Suite and Support Professional plans and is meant to help you enhance multiple parts of your customer experience–by optimizing your workflows, helping agents solve tickets faster, and automating certain parts of support interactions. 


What makes it a little hard to grasp is that Zendesk already some AI features in the same plans, called “Zendesk AI”:


  • Conversation bots, which you can use to build your own chatbot. 

  • Suggested macros for agents so agents can select the relevant macro for a ticket faster

  • Content cues for knowledge base managers which suggest topics that might be missing from your help center based on commonly-used keywords in tickets.


The Advanced AI add-on essentially offers a deeper and more complex set of features. We’ll go into all of them in more detail but here are some examples: 


  • Intelligent triage uses AI to automatically categorize and prioritize tickets. 

  • Generative AI for agents helps agents to write faster and more accurate responses by suggesting relevant keywords and phrases.

  • Macro suggestions for admins helps admins to create more efficient macros by suggesting relevant actions and conditions.


Zendesk has a detailed breakdown of all features included in both.


Its potential advantages are obvious. You can use it to:


  • Improve agent productivity: Since it summarizes tickets and helps rewrite responses for agents, it should enhance their efficiency.

  • Reduce wait times. Both by improving agent productivity and by intelligently triaging and prioritizing more important cases, it should enable you to reduce wait times. 

  • Increase customer satisfaction. As with all AI features, when they really help you provide higher quality responses faster or offer immediate resolutions to problems, it can have a massive impact on customer satisfaction.


The key features of Zendesk Advanced AI


The add-on offers a number of features and the benefits of each one are slightly different. 


Zendesk Advanced AI is purchased as an add-on to your entire Zendesk instance and you will be charged per agent. The standard price is $50/month/agent. 


That means you get the most value out of it if all of these features are relevant to your needs or help you fill gaps in your current customer experience. 


Intelligent triage


Intelligent triage automatically predicts intent, language, and sentiment for tickets created via email on the web form. This is what it looks like in the Zendesk admin interface: 

Intelligent triage in Zendesk

Intelligent triage has a few important limitations:


  • It might not be a great feature for you if your primary support channel is chat. Because this intent prediction is a lot less reliable in shorter text snippets, it’s best suitable for teams that have heavy email volume.

  • Intent predictions have also been largely trained on industry data and Zendesk has a long list of industries you’d need to belong to, to get the most value out of it. That means it might not work well for you if big chunks of your support demand are caused by product-specific issues or require an understanding of terminology or jargon that’s only used in your business. 

💡Tip: If the out-of-the-box intents are not a fit, or you’d like to complement them, try Swifteq’s integration app between Zendesk and ChatGPT. You can use your own OpenAI account to detect any intent in tickets with minimal configuration effort.

That said, it can be a really powerful feature if you’re the right audience for it. That’s because:


  • It works across a huge number of languages. 

  • It allows you to measure sentiment on a scale of 5 instead of the normal 3 (from very positive to very negative). 

  • You can use its input in triggers to create very specific auto replies that try to solve issues independently. In theory, you could use it as an alternative to a fully-trained AI solution that interacts directly with your customers. 


Intelligence in the context panel


One of the ways intelligent triage is used is to provide additional context in a panel next to the ticket.

Context for Intelligence triage

The context panel briefly summarizes the most important information in the ticket and immediately suggests macros that might be relevant for that case. It also gives you a confidence rating so you can quickly estimate how trustworthy that recommendation is and adapt your response accordingly.


This is a valuable feature both for large teams that are handling high ticket volumes and small teams that have limited resources – it’s a simple and easy way to try and save your agents some time while they’re working on tickets. 


Autoreply and internal note trigger actions


Like the context panel, autoreply and internal note trigger actions are dependent on intelligent triage working really well.


You can create triggers that essentially say: If this intent is recognized, add an internal note or send this autoreply to the customer. 

autoreply triggers in zendesk

The use of the autoreply is obvious – to automate a certain number of tickets. It’ll likely be a bit more reliable than Answer Bot responses. 


There are a number of situations where internal notes could be very helpful for you.  


Say you have a large team with very different levels of knowledge and seniority. You might be trying to onboard a large number of people at the same time. Or you might just have a very complex product with tons of SOPs (standard operating procedures) that agents just have a hard time retaining. 


All of these could benefit from a note like the one above that reminds them of the most important things to watch out for. If intelligent triage just is not the right tool for your use case, there are always alternatives like our Zendesk ChagtGPT integration app


Macro suggestions for admins


Zendesk automatically analyzes your incoming tickets and suggests new macros to create based on the responses that your agents have been sending out.


macro suggestions in Zendesk

This is especially useful for a larger team, where many agents are likely to quickly create a personal macro (either in Zendesk or in their own notes) just because the process of creating “official” macros tends to take more time. 


It also means your team doesn’t have to consciously think about needing a macro for each case, because this happens automatically in the background. 


Generative AI for agents


This is one of those features that Zendesk decided to use an unhelpfully generic term for. 


Generative AI for agents is a feature that enables agents to quickly rewrite their responses based on predetermined prompts: 


  • Text expansion where an agent can write a short one or two-line response or a few bullet points and expand this. 

  • Change the tone of a response by making it more friendly or more formal. 

zendesk generative ai features

You can measure the impact of this type of feature on handling time, CSAT, or a quality score.


Generative AI for Help Center


Similar to the feature above, generative AI for your help center offers a similar set of features to rewrite text automatically and save time when it comes to creating articles. When paired with Zendesk’s other AI features like content cues, it can help you beef up your help center and have much more comprehensive coverage of the most important topics a lot faster. 


Best practices for implementing Zendesk Advanced AI


These are the top three tips for ensuring you get the most out of Zendesk Advanced AI. 


Establish clear goals for success


Since there’s no way to test it before investing the money and time to get it to work, the most important starting point is to understand exactly what you want to achieve with it. 


AI features should have a measurable impact on some of your metrics, and you should decide which metrics you want to target before choosing any AI solution. 


Brandon Tidd, Professional Services Consultant at 729 Solutions, said, “Previously the hype around Advanced AI was about bringing generative AI to the chatbot. Now the focus is on use cases where AI can help agents improve their efficiency.” 


The way you’d measure the success of an AI solution that interacts with your customers and one that’s primarily there to assist your agents is very different. 


The more precise your goals, the easier it will be to run a small-scale pilot program quickly so you can see if the potential is there.


Involve your support team early


Your support team has to be the biggest proponent of any agent assist tool that you implement. 


It’s easy to look at a feature like text expansion and assume that it can save everyone in your team time because they’ll just start writing very effective bullet points but in practice it rarely works that way. Most (at least experienced) people have ingrained habits and routines. They find ways to do things quickly and efficiently that work for them. 


It’s hard to change these as the result of a top-down change. Involve your team in the ideation phase when you’re still considering what tools to implement and why. Make sure you have strong buy-in and people are excited about the potential impact of these changes.


Invest in continuous monitoring and maintenance


A recurring pattern that many teams run into is to underestimate just how high the training and maintenance effort will be for any AI solution. 


Jen Seran, Director of Operations at Stallion Express, said, “We undervalued the need for ongoing education for the AI system. We thought it would seamlessly integrate on its own but it needed consistent refreshment with fresh information to remain useful.” 


AI is not a plug-and-play system. It will take a very long time for it to run in the background without any major effort on your part – if it ever happens. Being prepared and having the resources to really invest in making it work is essential. 


Implementing tools that support your team


AI solutions and tools like Zendesk Advanced AI can significantly enhance your customer service operations, but it's crucial to ensure these tools genuinely support your team. 


Setting clear goals, defining success metrics, and continuously refining your AI implementations can help you maximize the benefits of AI for both your team and your customers. 


But the journey doesn’t end there, and there are many ways to do that.


At Swifteq, we’ve developed a comprehensive set of apps that will help you streamline workflows, boost productivity, and enhance customer satisfaction, providing the perfect complement to any AI initiative. 



 




Written by Nouran Smogluk

Nouran is a passionate people manager who believes that work should be a place where people grow, develop, and thrive. She writes for Supported Content and also blogs about a variety of topics, including remote work, leadership, and creating great customer experience.


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