What Is AI-Driven Support Operations? And How Can Organizations Adopt It?

By Loops · 02 March, 2024

This blog is a Fireside Chat Recap from our conversation with Declan Ivory, VP of Support at Intercom.

Customer Support Operations, often referred to as CS Ops or CX Ops, is undergoing a renaissance. Much like Marketing Ops and Revenue Ops became well-known and necessary functions within SaaS, the same thing is now happening with Support Ops.

What’s driving this demand? Much of it is rooted in the directive from leaders top down to understand their customer experience, adopt AI and embrace Support as a competitive advantage.

Smarter, AI-Driven Support Ops Is Here

In years prior, the Support Ops team was tasked with analyzing data, evaluating areas of opportunity, identifying tooling and workflows, managing capacity planning and presenting customer data and performance data to the company.

The only trouble with this model is that it was always limited, lagging and required a ton of manual work.

Tasks and functions in Support Operations are now changing quickly—at lightning speed. Declan Ivory, VP of Support at Intercom, has a front row seat to this evolution taking place. With one look at the Intercom blog on why you need a customer support operations team, it’s clear that AI is transforming Support Operations by providing:

  • Real-time data analysis and insights
  • Increased agent productivity
  • Personalized support,
  • Improved customer retention and loyalty, we could go on and on. 

This function is changing so fast that Intercom recently launched a Support Operations User Group within their community.

To help Support and CX leaders navigate this next frontier of Support Ops—one that is directly being transformed by AI’s ability to predict, extract and deliver customer insights across multiple teams within seconds–we hosted Declan in our recent Fireside Chat where he delivered relevant food for thought and his own expertise on Support Ops most pressing use cases (spoiler alert–you’ll hear about Auto QA).

In this blog post, we highlight Declan’s top 3 takeaways and also include a link to the full session if you’d like to view it yourself.

TheLoops AI hosted Declan Ivory, VP of Support at Intercom, to discuss AI-Driven Support Operations. Intercom is among many of TheLoops customers who use the predictive CX Operations platform to improve support ops with GenAI

Takeaway #1: Support Can Now Shift Their Reputation From Cost Center to Strategic Powerhouse

The line between Support, Success and retention impact has drastically blurred this past 12 months. With the right data at the forefront in terms of quality scores, agent performance and sentiment analysis, CFO’s, CCO’s and CEO’s are starting to concretely understand Support’s direct impact on customer satisfaction, loyalty and NRR.

In their 2024 Customer Service Trends report, Intercom pointed this out under the 3R’s of AI-Driven Support Operations: reputation, retention, revenue.

As Declan shared during the Fireside chat, “With conversational intelligence and AI for Support Ops, Support can now be looked at as a value center, directly impacting the strategy of the business.” Hear more on this below.

“There were a very limited set of metrics in the past,” Declan also reminded us. To help leaders understand how Support and CX should be measured moving forward, check out TheLoops guide featuring Ben Saitz, CCO of Netskope, Sarah Hatter of ElevateCX, Genady Rashkovan, Vice President of Global Support at Tricentis and more.

Takeaway #2: AI-Driven Support Ops Helps Teams Access Data At Scale In Real-Time

Historically, companies could only assess a certain amount of Support interactions. In order to pass feedback along to other teams, i.e product feature requests, voice of the customer insights or clusters of trending bugs, there were significant limitations. Across the realms of people, process, and technology, someone had to read and analyze every ticket, convey this data in a spreadsheet or report, then schedule time to review it with the Engineering or Product team days or weeks later.

Now, as Delcan pointed out, “We’re moving from a world where you had the opportunity to get a certain amount of insight into customer experience to a world where, using AI, you can get the opportunity to mine every single conversation, every single interaction that you have with a customer, marry it up with information from other business systems that you have, and begin to get really valuable insights around exactly how you’re doing.

You are able to accurately assess, are you delivering for your customers in your preferred time frame? AI can also help you make changes as a Support leader across coaching and training while also allowing you to be a very viable voice of the customer back to the rest of the business.”

Topic modeling, scoring, and anomaly detection are examples of AI for Support Operations roles. Picture on TheLoops website with Intercom, Zendesk, Slack and Jira logos indicating TheLoops AI integrations

Takeaway #3: The Most Exciting Use Cases Of AI-Driven Support Ops Include Auto QA

One of the key themes that emerged during this Fireside chat is that Declan cannot imagine a world in which his team, or any Support team for that matter, is not using AI. (For what its worth, Declan has worked within this sector for 30 years at notable companies such as Intercom, Google, Amazon (AWS) and IBM).

As it stands today, Declan sees Auto QA, also known as AI-Driven Automated Quality Assurance, as one of the most exciting areas–one he anticipates more and more teams adopting these next 6-9 months.

Listen to what he has to say on Auto QA for agents and chatbots, too.

Conclusion: Embracing the AI-Powered Future of Real-Time Conversational Intelligence

These clips and takeaways are but a glimpse of the wisdom Declan and Somya, our CEO, shared with Fireside chat attendees.

Declan even discussed how the Intercom team leverages TheLoops for their own conversational intelligence and data-driven collaboration with the Intercom Product team. To hear this example and watch more of the Fireside chat, click here.

To learn how TheLoops can help you and your team, book a demo here.

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