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The Self-Service Revolution for the Modern, Digital Contact Center
The term contact center often evokes thoughts of a large office building, rows of desks, and agents lined up one-by-one answering an endless barrage of customer calls. While agents are still the heart of an organization’s customer service, the customer journey has evolved – 81% of customers prefer to solve any issue through self-service first when it comes to interacting with their favorite brands, a product of rapid digital adoption.
One-to-one interactions with agents provide a tailored experience when more complex support is needed, but increased digitization and the demand for instant gratification society-wide has driven many customers to attempt resolving issues themselves before reaching out for further assistance. Despite this growing trend, many businesses have various misconceptions about where today’s customers are turning to for help.
There are ways companies can leverage self-service to provide seamless customer service and position agents to concentrate on the more complex interactions. Here’s how.
Smarter Chatbots for Better, Faster Self-Service
Over the last few years many businesses have deployed chatbots with varying levels of effectiveness. The race is on to meet customer demand and quality. According to data from Tidio, 62% of customers would prefer to talk with a chatbot than wait 15 minutes for a live agent. AI has vastly increased the accuracy and efficiency of chatbots as they’re trained on every prior interaction, leveraging data to become even smarter and more sufficient along the way.
Many customers, 52% to be exact, prefer chat over phone to begin with. Chats can be more accommodating to customers’ schedules and quicker than phone calls. Even more so, chatbots can provide answers for customers more quickly than talking or chatting with a live agent. For more menial tasks like rescheduling a delivery, refilling a prescription, or modifying a hotel reservation, smart chatbots can address issues seamlessly, without the queue. Asynchronous chat also allows customers to walk away and come back at any time to resolve a chat. This prevents the customer from having to repeat themselves when they resume the conversation. Furthermore, when bots are integrated into popular social apps like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, customers can reach their favorite brands for support from apps they’re already using, at any time of day, anywhere—reducing barriers for resolution and increasing satisfaction.
Be Proactive and Anticipate Customers’ Needs
Most companies would agree that the happiest customers are those who interact with brands only when they want to, not when they have to. By harnessing machine learning and AI, brands can optimize and streamline the customer experience proactively, addressing issues and concerns before customers must hunt for answers and reach out for help. Using data and insights captured from previous interactions across all channels like calls, chats, web searches, and social media, businesses can track trends in customer requests and best tailor their approach to address these issues before their arise.
Many customers reach out because they need additional information, or the answers they attempted to find on their own proved to be unhelpful. AI-powered solutions connect with customers through their favorite channels, collecting and analyzing data to pre-empt needs before customers reach out for service. For example, customers tend to call their utility company after a power outage to check expected restoration times. Leveraging data with AI, organizations determine the best approach to address these concerns without the need for a customer to reach out – like with a proactive text notification informing affected customers of when they can expect their power to return.
Google it First
The Google search bar has become a critical piece of the customer journey. In fact, when there is a problem, the first stop for 46% of consumers is the Google search bar. However, only 15% of businesses believe their customers turn to search as their first destination. This large discrepancy leads to a variety of issues, including customers reaching out to agents after they’re already frustrated that they couldn’t find the answers they were looking for.
Meeting customers on Google not only gives brands more control of the conversation, it also reduces operational costs as customers aren’t reaching out with redundant questions and agents are freed from these repetitive conversations. To see success, brands must put a greater emphasis on proactive conversational AI that can detect customers’ top questions and concerns– the data used to build an accurate and helpful knowledge base. Additionally, automated knowledge management solutions can consolidate assets and make them available and easy for search engines to crawl and index – making quick and easy answers available right at customers’ fingertips.
In today’s world, loyalty no longer stems from just the product or service a brand provides, but the overarching, integrated digital experience a brand offers across its website, social media, support channels, and marketing. And consumers today are working with limited patience: they are only willing to give even their favorite of brands so many chances.
To thrive in this environment, businesses must be prepared to address customer desires for on-demand service and even be able to anticipate their needs ahead of time. The trick to getting it right is utilizing advanced tools and investing in the right technology to understand your customers, meet them where they are and tailor the journey from the start – before they even know they have a problem.