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How the nation's largest transit ad company transformed its customer support with AI

By Maranda Doney · June 20, 2023
Hero image with a large ad on a bus in San Fracisco

Customer support isn't an easy job. You have to be fast, nimble, retain a lot of information, and above all, be a people person. 

But it's a vital role that plays a huge part in a customer's experience with a company. In fact, 61% of consumers say they'd switch to a competitor after just one poor customer service experience.  

But as a company grows, providing that same level of personalized service to clients is more difficult. Vector Media, the largest transit advertising company in the U.S., quickly realized this as it expanded across 50 markets. The daily support tickets surged as a result. In the time it took to give a tailored response to one customer, it meant another customer was waiting longer for help. 

Vector Media Chief Technology Officer (CTO) Dan Dorato-Hankins knew there had to be a way to keep things personalized while trimming down response times. Dan thought to himself: What if AI could do this for us?

The challenge: Too many tickets, too little time

In the world of support, timing is everything. Clients expect high-quality, prompt support whenever they hit a roadblock. When a customer has to wait for a solution, every minute longer it takes to get a response can cause frustration. 

Vector Media's help desk technicians spent precious time summarizing lengthy support tickets. And once they figured out the root problem, the team had to dig through multiple open browser tabs to find the right resource to share. 

After Dan spoke with the team about their processes, he immediately thought they could use AI. If AI could summarize a ticket and provide a suggested response, the help desk technicians could have more time to make each customer's experience a positive and personalized one. 

The team could easily use an AI tool like ChatGPT to accomplish this. But using the chatbot alone would still mean a manual copy-and-paste process for each ticket. That's why Vector Media turned to Zapier.

"Zapier is integrated into almost every aspect of my company in some way, shape or form," Dan said. 

He knew by adding automation to this support process, he could cut down the team's response time without sacrificing a personalized experience for customers. 

The solution: Connecting Freshdesk with ChatGPT and Zapier

With Zapier’s 5,000+ app integrations, it was simple for Dan to build an automated workflow with apps the team was already using. 

The help desk team relies on Freshdesk to manage every step of the customer support process, so Dan started there. Here's how he built the workflow:

  • Freshdesk to ChatGPT: Each new support ticket in Freshdesk triggers a prompt to be sent to ChatCPT. "The ChatGPT plug-in summarizes the request coming in from our end user and comes up with a few suggestions for a response," said Dan. 

  • ChatGPT to Freshdesk: The summary and suggestions for the response are then stored within a private note on the ticket in Freshdesk. 

This automated process ensures that each new ticket has a solution already in the works from the moment a customer submits it. 

The results: Faster support and happier clients

Integrating AI and automation into this previously manual process transformed Vector Media's customer support. 

Help desk technicians no longer need to sift through browser tabs to find solutions for clients. Instead, when they open a new ticket, they can immediately begin providing each client with personalized and timely responses. By automating the summary and suggested responses with AI, help desk technicians save about 5-10 minutes on a simple request and upwards of 30 minutes on a more complex issue.

"It's game-changing how AI can use its rich datasets to give my team a jump start on a well-researched quality answer," said Dan. 

Automation isn't just helping support employees, though—customers also reap the benefits. Each minute the help desk technicians save is another minute sooner customers get a solution. A quickly solved problem means a happy customer; with about 600 monthly tickets, that's a lot more happy customers. 

"Zapier is unofficially a member of my team. It takes a lot of the repetitive tasks that burden our team's work lives and automates them so we can focus on using our brains for the creative work," said Dan.

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