Building A Resilient Customer Service

The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has posed some unprecedented challenges to both public and private organizations. Measures implemented to control the spread of the virus and the impact caused by them have created confusion, uncertainty, and fear amongst consumers.

The immediate need for clarity among customers on a variety of issues, from loan payments to booking flights, from cancellations to insurance claims and mortgage payments, has led to a huge spike in the number of calls received by the contact centers. A majority of customers prefer call support as their initial channel of communication since it allows for greater flexibility and provides a human touch.

Customers want an opportunity to explain, reason or negotiate with contact center agents. Also, they generally prefer to solve urgent issues by calling for support rather than use other channels.

Many organizations across industries are ill-equipped to deal with such a massive increase in call volumes, leading to longer wait-times as the support staff serves other customers.

Adding to the turmoil is the need to comply with social distancing norms that have forced the support staff to shift to a work-from-home setup. Moreover, there is a shortage of service staff as workers fall sick and are unable to report to work.  

The pandemic has brought to the forefront the pressing need for businesses to be empathetic towards the needs of their customers while also implementing significant changes in their operational setups.

In times of crisis, a business’s ability to provide quick and compassionate service will enhance its brand value and go a long way in building a loyal customer base.

The obvious question, which then arises is, “How can an organization respond to these challenges?” Let’s find out.

The To-Do List: Addressing Key Challenges

Before delving into the potential solutions, it is imperative to understand the key areas of concern that require swift action by the organizations. These include –

  • Enhancing the quality of service by reducing customer wait-times
  • Leveraging automation to control the average wait-time
  • Adopting digital and self-service channels to address repetitive issues
  • Ensuring the availability of consistent and accurate information to customers
  • Ensuring scalability to meet the increased demand for customer support
  • Facilitating personalized customer experiences 24×7

Building A Resilient Customer Service

To navigate through the crisis, organizations must modernize their existing IT infrastructure. As a part of this modernization process, our customers and several large enterprises are adopting a myriad of advanced technologies. But the most popular of them are conversational AI and data analytics. 

The combination of these technologies is enabling companies to effectively manage the growing demand for customer support, while reducing the burden on the support staff. 

While analytics provide insights on the changing customer behaviour, emerging customer issues and common roadblocks in customer service operations, conversational AI can be used to deliver the first line of service and improve agent productivity.

1. Use Data Analytics To Enable A Forward-Thinking Approach

Utilizing data to the fullest has never been more important. In the midst of this volatility, contact centers must utilize data to

  • Predict customer demand
  • Predict workforce supply

         This can be done in the following manner –

  • Predict Customer Demand: Forecasting models used prior to the pandemic are no longer viable to use. To predict the volume of calls in the new normal, data related a region’s economic activity and population health must be analyzed. Additionally, companies must also analyze the data pertaining to customer demographics, impact due to company actions, the volume of COVID-19 related calls in other virus-affected areas, PHI data, social media sentiment data, data derived from agents, etc. By analyzing this data with predictive and prescriptive analytics, companies can be better prepared to manage the influx of call volumes.
  • Predict Workforce Supply: A similar approach can be taken to predict any deviations in the planned workflow supply. Factors like workflow demographics, the spread of the virus in areas where members of the staff reside, etc. must be considered to predict the availability of contact center staff.

In addition to these two approaches, analytics can also be used to identify and deflect non-critical calls, requests and contacts to virtual agents or other self-service channels.

2. Use Conversational AI To Deliver Service At Scale

Conversational AI is an advanced technology that enables computers to process, understand and respond to text or voice inputs in natural language. Conversational AI platforms can be used to build conversational user interfaces, chatbots and virtual assistants which can be integrated with messaging platforms, social media platforms, SMS, and website chat.

Conversational AI technologies like chatbots and conversational IVR are designed to understand and provide answers to customer queries with minimal agent intervention. They can act as first line of support and improve the productivity of human support staff in the following ways –

  • Using data analysis, organizations can identify the primary reasons customers are reaching out to the support staff and can employ a dedicated chatbot on the website or mobile app to answer the repeat queries. This will allow the service agents to focus on the more critical and complex customer needs;
  • Conversational IVR systems which are enabled by Natural Language Processing (NLP) can handle the sudden surge in calls and reduce panic among the customers;
  • Chatbots can also monitor conversations and inform organizations about the frequently asked customer queries;
  • Bots can draw up the relevant knowledge and background information from CRM systems to assist contact center agents in servicing customers quickly. This will improve first call resolution rates
  • They can transfer calls or conversations to the right agents in case of more complex queries that require human attention

Learn More: Human Handoff In Service Desk Bots

To realize the potential of chatbots completely amid this crisis, organizations must be mindful of a few things –

  • Time is of the essence when implementing conversational AI solutions. It is prudent for the organizations to quickly set-up and adopt the technology to keep up with the rapidly evolving needs of the customers. Hence, there is a need for low-code bot-builder platforms like Acuvate’s BotCore or Microsoft’s Power Virtual Agents for quick deployment of virtual agents.
  • While designing chatbots, it is crucial to be sensitive to the customers’ emotions and feelings. For this it is necessary to use empathetic language and be proactive in answering the customers’ queries.Using sentiment analysis in chatbots can enable them to understand human emotions.
  • Offering personalized solutions is the key to gaining the customer’s faith. The chatbot must integrate with third-party databases to draw up relevant background knowledge. This helps in providing personalized solutions that are specific to the needs of the customer. This reassures the customer that he is understood and valued by the organization;
  • Consistency of information is the key to superior customer service. The information provided by chatbots must align with the information given by call center agents to avoid any confusion or misunderstanding.
  • The chatbot must stay up-to-date on the needs of the customers. Drawing up the old chatbot conversation data helps the organizations in understanding the frequently asked topics. They can then stay relevant by designing new chatbot conversations and workflows to address these issues.

Learn More:

There are several real-life scenarios where companies have adopted chatbots amid COVID-19 to keep up with the growing customer needs –

  • Bank of America introduced its chatbot ‘Erica’ inside its mobile banking app. From providing balance information, tracking spending trends to suggesting ways to save money to providing personalized recommendations, Erica has been helping customers address their banking problems. Erica added 1 million users a month from March through May 2020.

Since March, it has assisted 350,000 clients who had trouble meeting their credit card, auto loan and other payment obligations, thereby reducing the call volume to the bank’s contact centres.

  • Reliance General Insurance – A large insurance company based in India, Reliance General Insurance deployed an NLP based chatbot called RIVA, which is available on the company website, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. RIVA can generate a policy quotation, accept claim intimation, and provide a soft copy of the claim and policy in less than a minute.

The bot has handled more than 20,000 transactions handled monthly and 70% of chats handled have an average handling time of less than 2 minutes. The bot reduced the company’s operational cost by 60%.

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We, at Acuvate Software, are helping clients to streamline their customer service operations and reduce costs through our chatbot-builder platform called BotCore.

BotCore presents several benefits – (i) it is an intuitive, no-code platform to easily build AI-powered bots, (ii) it is versatile and can seamlessly integrate with existing legacy systems and AI services, (iii) it allows the connection of existing bots across different departments to create a strong digital network, (iv) it is deployable on both on-site and cloud environments, (v) it facilitates the creation of chatbots that can simulate highly complex conversations.

Get Started

The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation initiatives in different functions of an organization and customer service is no different. To build a resilient customer service and infuse agility in day-to-day operations, organizations must continually evolve and adapt to the changing times. They must revamp their existing IT infrastructures to manage the pandemic-driven needs of the customers.

This response to the crisis is likely to transform the future of customer service forever. Adopting conversational AI and data analytics is a good starting point for organizations looking to transform their operations.

Since it is hard to predict the end of the crisis, organizations must plan both for short-term continuity as well as enabling long-term operational changes.

If you’d like to learn more about this topic, please feel free to get in touch with one of our chatbot experts for a personalized consultation.

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