COVID-19 has turned everyone’s lives upside down, and people are still figuring out how to cope. Some are unemployed while others are working from home (and may never return to the office fulltime). Many are caring for family members who have been affected in some way. Many have small children with limited day-care options and closed schools. Seniors and immunocompromised individuals who are at higher risk cannot safely leave their homes and are learning to meet their needs with online services—more than ever before, from banking to shopping to paying bills.
Because of this, consumer needs, behaviors, and expectations have dramatically and suddenly shifted. Customers are turning to virtual solutions where they can – some for the first time – and need more help than they did in the past. Many of them want to speak to a human representative, rather than a chatbot. A study by Accenture’s Keep Me Index/Moments That Matter study revealed that 58% of customers prefer live interactions during crises when solving urgent issues.
Customers want their issues to be solved quickly and effectively – with empathy and understanding, but without long hold times.
Brands don’t yet understand their customers intent
Focusing on a customer’s experience has long been recognized as a critical driver of customer satisfaction, loyalty, and increasing customer lifetime revenue. Companies that focus on customer service during economic downturns also increase their shareholder return. In a study conducted by McKinsey based on Forrester Research data, it was revealed that customer experience leaders had three times higher total returns to shareholders during the 2007-2009 recession than laggards. In today’s uncertain and unpredictable environment; however, with all its inherent challenges, the crux of the customer experience – conversations – are simply getting lost.
Contact centers and companies using them are struggling to scale their current environments and processes to meet demand and ease the burden on agents by increased call volume. Without being able to understand and act on caller needs and intent adequately, they are unable to consistently deliver quality experiences to consumers and resolve their issues quickly. Agents are habitually focused on reading from a script and are busy taking notes that they often miss critical moments that indicate a customer’s intent and/or emotions. Without proper tools and agent coaching, agents can come across as more machine-like than human – which can negatively impact a customer’s experience with a brand.
Because these organizations are unable to analyse and understand every conversation, they do not know:
1. Whether customers are frustrated and, if so, why
2. To what extent the work-from-home model of their contact center is impacting the
3. How to improve the conversational experience to make it mutually beneficial for customers
4. Which opportunities exist to help control costs while delivering high-quality customer
5. How much stress associated with the work-from-home model is impacting agent
For companies to not just survive, but thrive in today’s climate, they must invest in understanding every interaction to deliver the best possible customer experience in the most eficient way.
The role of AI and automation in bridging the gap
AI and automation are changing the way organizations do business. It is now time to take it to the next level and deliver solutions on an AI and automation platform that are conversation-centric – combining conversational AI with Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to create a comprehensive Conversational Service Automation (CSA) platform. These solutions will further drive transformation and deliver significant, measurable business value precisely because they understand customer intent and sentiment before, during, and after an agent is involved. They are also able to redirect less complex or urgent queries to self-service methods and increase workflow automation.
A CSA platform addresses the entire conversational experience for both customers and agents. It does so by using conversational AI, RPA, and work?ow automation to drive demonstrable and sustainable business value across areas. It increases revenue with AI-powered recommendations for upselling/cross-selling opportunities. It decreases the time to issue resolution and increases customer satisfaction and loyalty. The platform also increases employee satisfaction and retention, accelerates agent onboarding, improves training, and enhances call quality. By delivering an easy-to-use solution that addresses some of the significant challenges faced by call center agents, CSA platforms can reduce average handle time and improve agent productivity. This, while still maintaining compliance both in contact centers and within work-from-home models.
A real-world example of CSA
A global insurance company with operations in over 80 countries has a business unit focused on travel. This unit handles over 300,000 customer calls per month, with 470 agents. Before CSA, the travel unit had only limited insight into call drivers, repeat calls, and misrouted calls and experienced a high volume of call transfers. The cost to serve was also high compared to the revenue generated. Using a CSA platform, the company was able to better identify caller intent, misdirected calls, low-complexity calls, and opportunities for customer self-service. The insurer then implemented a conversational AI-powered self-service tool to reduce the cost to serve and used conversational analytics to route low-complexity calls to lower-cost resources. Using the platform’s virtual agent, self-service, conversational assistance, and analytics, the company achieved a 20% reduction in call volumes and increased annual savings of 14.6 million dollars by better-utilizing self-service and routing to other lower-cost resources.
Enriched Customer experience is your go-to answer
With the ever-evolving, digital savvy customers of today, it is the right time to take the lead in embracing conversational AI and automation to improve customer service while reducing costs. It is time that contact center agents delivered empathetic, high-quality experiences at lower costs – irrespective if they are working from home or in a contact center.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.