How generative AI changes B2B ecommerce

There was the world before ChatGPT, and there is the world after ChatGPT. In fact, its emergence is being hailed as the next Industrial Revolution. With over a billion visitors per month, this generative AI tool is being rapidly adopted in fields ranging from creative industries like graphic design and content writing to more technical roles such as software development. Its potential has only continued to expand into other arenas, including customer support. No doubt, generative AI is the future of CX. And with 88% of business leaders reporting that their customers’ attitudes towards automation have improved over the past year — it’s no longer a matter of if you should look to automate your support but when.

The benefits for B2B ecommerce brands are clear. Being that 80% of customers identify CX as a key differentiator and think it is just as important as products or services, gen AI is a key way to improve your customer support offering and get a leg up on your competitors. Yet, because this technology is relatively new, and many B2B companies have more complex product packages and setups, you may still be wondering how, in practice, generative AI can enhance your customer support.

First, let’s take a look at what makes generative AI tools like ChatGPT so much better than its predecessors in simulating human-like conversations. From there, we can better understand how this technology can optimize your customer support.

What is generative AI

Before we explore some of the best use cases for generative AI in the B2B ecommerce support context, it’s a good idea to understand what the technology is and how it works. Gen AI refers to the particular iteration of artificial intelligence that powers tools like ChatGPT — as well as a growing host of other bots like DALL-E, Google’s Bard, and MidJourney. Gen AI is distinct from previous forms of automation because it enables bots to hold impressively natural conversations. This is because generative AI draws on large language models (LLMs) that, in the case of ChatGPT, have even passed the Turing test.

But what exactly is an LLM and why is it so revolutionary in the AI space? What sets these models apart is the use of ‘transformers’ (as if there wasn’t already something so sci-fi and Marvel-esque about this tech). Transformers are so effective in mimicking human conversational style because they can process all inputs simultaneously rather than needing to be fed data sequentially. This means that, in the case of ChatGPT, the bot can process all of the written content that exists on the internet (up until 2022) in order to generate the answer to a given prompt. This holistic processing capability allows it to produce responses with the level of context and tone you would expect when talking with a regular person.

As you might have guessed by now, this can be especially useful for customer support automation. This is because a virtual agent that uses generative AI can seamlessly mimic your brand tone of voice as well as the conversational style of your human agents. As a result, you can offer an improved conversational experience for customers, make your support agents’ lives easier, and provide your customers with more than ever before.

With generative AI offering such natural and human-like conversations, you don’t have to worry about automation damaging the customer experience with your brand. With the help of generative AI, the virtual agent can instantly pull info from your FAQ pages, knowledge base, help center, or any other company page — and serve this to customers in a natural, conversational way. There’s no training required, and you can get started in minutes.

As long as a topic is covered in your help center, the bot can process all of the articles available to answer customer queries. So if a customer asks ‘Where can I find and download my last invoice?’ the bot can instantly provide instructions.

In this scenario, your customers can have their cake and eat it too — by getting the info they need much more quickly through self-service, without losing the conversational format of speaking with a human agent. This will boost your automation rate, while ensuring that your customers still feel supported with high quality customer service.

Assisting support agents

While a virtual agent powered by generative AI may be able to effectively do the work of several human agents, it doesn’t mean that they will be replacing them anytime soon. Rather, automation serves as a tool that can help agents to do their jobs better. For instance, a virtual agent that uses generative AI can offer a more seamless transition from bot to human agent by helping to structure, summarize, and automatically populate tickets so agents don’t have to. This will lead to much faster response times and a cleaner handover to agents in cases the bot can’t fully resolve. In addition, agents can prompt generative AI to offer suggested replies that help them to draft responses more efficiently.

These things can be a major game-changer in the event of an uptick in queries, unexpected or otherwise. This makes automation useful not only for answering simple questions like order status or to request a password change. It also helps to free up agents’ time to deal with more complicated issues. For B2B ecommerce brands where queries can be complex and technical, having a primer from the bot allows agents to hit the ground running when addressing customer issues. With the help of generative AI, the bot assists your agents in having better and faster insights into customers’ needs and helps your team work more efficiently.

Understanding your customers and what they’re asking

Lastly, generative AI will help you to educate your customers and offer them even more value than they were expecting from interactions with your support team. Businesses often shop around between different suppliers before making a purchase, so you want them to be able to discover the unique selling point of your product offerings as easily as possible. This is where generative AI comes in. It can comb your existing content to offer suggestions of useful, educational content to answer any pre-purchase questions. It can also provide such content to busy support agents when prompted. Through the transformer model that powers it, generative AI can instantly serve up this information without needing to be manually updated as you publish new content on your site.

Generative AI is the latest and most sophisticated edition of automation technology, and it has real potential to optimize the B2B customer experience. In particular, it has the capacity to mimic natural conversations, assist your agents in structuring support tickets, and provide customers with an enriched support experience — all without hiring any extra agents. It’s a time efficient, affordable, and scalable solution to mitigating long wait times, depersonalized CX, and clunky self-service offerings. While the tech may be new, the sky is hardly the limit on its potential for supercharging your CX as the number of applicable use cases only continues to grow.


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The B2B eCommerce Association is a global network and resource hub for B2B practitioners, offering invaluable opportunities to connect and learn. Our mission is to empower manufacturers and distributors in their eCommerce and digital transformation journeys through useful tools, practical resources and exceptional networking opportunities. Join us to thrive in our dynamic industry

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