The AI Impact on Customer Service

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Imagine a world where your customer inquiries are addressed at lightning speed, with a level of personalized care that could rival your best in-store sales representatives. Welcome to the future of pool and spa customer service. By harnessing artificial intelligence (AI), particularly through customer service chatbots and virtual assistants, you can not only save significant time but also assist more customers simultaneously, resulting in increased customer satisfaction.

CHATBOTS IN THE POOL & SPA INDUSTRY: PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE

Similar to other sectors, the incorporation of chatbots in the pool and spa industry began with simple use cases, such as automating appointment bookings or providing pre-programmed responses to customer inquiries on websites. Today, however, AI-powered chatbots have become sophisticated enough to handle complex tasks like troubleshooting technical issues or offering personalized solutions based on a customer's purchase history.

"As an industry expert, you are well aware of the significant amount of time spent addressing many of the same inquiries on a regular basis," says Laci Davis, CEO of Grit Game Marketing. "Depending on the product, you probably already know most of the questions a customer will have ahead of time. And that's why AI can be a game-changing addition to your business. If you're used to getting a high call or email volume, just setting up a simple chatbot to automatically address your FAQs can feel like you've doubled or even tripled your staff overnight."

But this is just the beginning. The future of chatbot technology holds even more potential for the pool and spa industry. With advancements in large language models (LLMs) and user interfaces, chatbots will be able to engage in more natural and humanlike conversations with users, leading to wider adoption. Furthermore, the technology is becoming easier and more accessible for businesses to build custom chatbot applications and train them using their own data.

FOR MANUFACTURERS — Chatbots can handle intricate inquiries about product specs, installation, and maintenance. They can also streamline sales and operations by guiding reps, partners, and outside vendors through the product range, providing tailored advice, and even taking new potential customer information when a prospect is interested in carrying a product line.

FOR RETAILERS — Retailers can leverage chatbots to process orders, suggest products based on customer needs, and handle frequently asked questions, freeing up human capital for more complex, emotionally intelligent tasks. In-store representatives can also use the technology to assist customers with product inquiries, questions, and more, providing a seamless experience between online and in-store customer service.

FOR SERVICE PROFESSIONALS — Service professionals can use chatbots to schedule appointments, offer tips for pool and spa maintenance, answer frequently asked questions about their services, and even troubleshoot minor issues. This allows them to focus on more crucial or specialized tasks while still being available to assist customers at any time. Expect to see many service providers sending their reps into the field with custom A.I. Chatbots on their mobile devices in the very near future.

SOFTWARE PROVIDERS — If you're wondering where you'll start to see wide use of AI-powered chatbots and automated customer service, the answer is software providers. If you haven't already seen many of the names in your tech stack introduce AI-guided assistants, it's only a matter of time. Software providers have a huge opportunity; many are already using the emerging technology to assist customers with onboarding, training, data input, and general troubleshooting.

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VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS AND THE PERSONAL TOUCH

Virtual assistants, a step up from chatbots, are the pinnacle of AI-driven customer service. They handle tasks efficiently, recognize and respond to the customer's emotions, and adapt their tone and responses accordingly.

MANUFACTURERS AND RETAILERS — For manufacturers and retailers, virtual assistants add an element of concierge to the service experience. They handle high-level, complex discussions on product lines and can walk a potential customer through a virtual showroom, giving product demonstrations and answering questions in real time. While the technology is still in its infancy, the capabilities to interact with customers from start to finish are closer than you may think.

SERVICE PROVIDERS — In service sectors, virtual assistants are progressing slower for use in the field; however, they are improving efficiencies by streamlining many pre-service tasks before a technician ever goes on a service call. The technology has already progressed enough to create a completely seamless experience from start to finish, allowing customers to book and pay for services, schedule appointments, and communicate with the service provider, all through a virtual assistant.

THE CUSTOMER-BOT RELATIONSHIP IS EVOLVING

For better or for worse, the modern consumer is shaped by convenience. They want answers to their questions without delay and from the path of least resistance. In a world where AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants are becoming the norm, the question isn't if the pool and spa industry should adopt such tools but how quickly they can do so without losing their personal touch. The relationship between customers and chatbots is evolving, and it's crucial for businesses to find the right balance between automation and human interaction to provide a seamless customer experience. As technology advances, chatbots and virtual assistants will become even more integral in shaping how businesses interact with their customers.

ADAPTING TO AI IN THE POOL AND SPA INDUSTRY

Since the implementation of AI in the pool and spa industry is a matter of when not if, here are the steps businesses can take to ensure a smooth transition:

  1. Analyze Customer Interactions — Look at the types of inquiries you receive. What can be automated? And what truly requires a human touch?
  2. Select the Right AI Platform — Choose a reputable AI software provider that meets your unique needs.You may not need all the bells whistles that come with some programs, so take your time and do your homework.
  3. Customize for Your Brand — Personalize the AI to reflect your branding, incorporating your voice and the language your customers are accustomed to.
  4. Train Your Team — Educate your staff on how to work alongside AI for maximum efficiency.
  5. Measure Success — Continuously monitor and adjust the AI's performance to ensure it's exceeding, not just meeting, your customer service benchmarks. THE

FUTURE OF CUSTOMER SERVICE WITH AI

The future of customer service in the industry is definitely headed for change. But companies shouldn't be worried about it; rather, they should look forward to embracing it. With the capacity to handle queries at scale while maintaining a human touch, these technologies open up new customer engagement and satisfaction frontiers. The businesses that recognize and harness this potential are poised to become pioneers of unparalleled customer service in their field and reap all the benefits that come with it.

Paul McIntosh is the co-founder and chief growth officer at Grit Game Marketing, an agency that helps pool and spa businesses connect with its customers and increase revenue through bespoke marketing and advertising strategies.

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