I recently had the pleasure to welcome guest speakers Ian Jacobs, Principal Analyst at Forrester and Stuart Jones, Customer Service & Communications at CA on our webinar “How to deliver a differentiating customer service experience in 2018”.
On the webinar Ian Jacobs highlighted that “today a winning customer service strategy needs to provide a simplified non-linear experience”. But how do you achieve a unified customer journey across different communication touchpoints and channels, such as Chatbots, Facebook Messenger, and existing IVR/Voice channel when customer service processes involves a set of complex technologies?
We discussed this and a number of other questions, that if answered can help you deliver greater levels of automation and overcome key operational obstacles that hinder the launch and effective use of new digital customer service initiatives.
Now, while you may have missed the live webinar, here are 5 takeaways:
1. The cost of customer service is higher than ever
Providing customer service is already a great cost to any business, but to differentiate your customer service experience is a whole new level of expense. It’s estimated that businesses are spending $1.3 trillion ever year on just answering customer calls, and that’s not including the ever rising costs of digital transformation and launching new technology initiatives that help to improve the customer service experience. So, how can businesses reduce operational costs and the volume of inbound calls into contact centres while also enhancing experience? The answer will be a lifeline for those businesses already serving millions of customers.
2. The demand for conversational messaging experiences
Source: Forrester, Ian Jacobs
Today’s consumer now expects to be able to purchase a product, redeem a marketing offer or gain a resolution to an enquiry over their favourite messaging channels. This ‘conversational’ trend is one of the biggest opportunities for businesses to get closer to their customers and differentiate the customer service experience. Already, it’s been reported that 70% of customers prefer customer service via digital messaging channels to picking up the phone. Channels like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Web RTC, and Rich Communication Services (RCS), will be at the frontline of the contact centre and customer service in the years to come.
Businesses need to take steps to shift interactions to these channels, allowing agents and customers to interact one-to-one in real-time. This change to a messaging-based approach is symbiotic, producing benefits on both sides of the enquiry. These are: 1. Discoverability – Businesses can increase the ease and way consumers find and engage with them. Being available on these new messaging channels can differentiate your business from competitors; 2. Persistence – A customer interaction can remain available to the consumer (and business) throughout the period of the customer case (not like voice or webchat); 3. Meeting SLAs – Messaging channels provide businesses with an opportunity to respond quicker to inbound enquiries and therefore meet SLAs and drive higher performance for Contact Centre KPIs.
But, what’s crucial, is that integrating digital messaging channels into the agent dashboard is essential to taking the next steps with customer service automation.
3. The AI and chatbot opportunity - Harnessing automation
Source: Forrester, Ian Jacobs
The next steps in customer service automation are the use of AI and chatbots to effectively map the customer journey to improve customer experiences. Customer journey mapping is now essential to increasing proactive engagement that benefits contact centre performance, with proactive interaction such as automated alerts and notifications keeping customers up-to-date and solving customer cases before they turn into inbound voice calls.
Going beyond triggered notifications, across nearly every part of customer service operations, AI, even in its simplest rule-based form, will provide a starting point for automating the customer service experience. We predict that many businesses will adopt a Hybrid-AI approach where artificial intelligence and humans work in tandem together.
For inbound customer enquires this could mean using chatbots on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp to greet customers, start collecting relevant information, automate resolutions and FAQs, and prioritise those enquiries which most impact customer loyalty to get passed onto an agent on the same channel. For the agent, AI can help guide interactions with a customer. We believe a virtual assistant analysing chats in real-time to identify recommended answers and resolutions for agents will significantly increase the customer experience as well as agent productivity. This blend of digital messaging with automation technology allows agents to answer more enquires over multiple channels while spending more time on the phone with those customer cases that require the most attention.
4. You don’t need to mess with your current infrastructure
Source: Forrester, Ian Jacobs
The biggest barriers holding back digital transformation from delivering customer service experience improvement and increasing automation in the contact centre, is a business’s siloed infrastructure and systems not built for the digital world. To start deploying digital messaging based customer journeys, AI powered chatbots and more, businesses might think they need to rip out and replace their current infrastructure.Wrong. You don’t need to replace your systems and legacy infrastructure, you need to be able to connect them, making the data held in each system accessible, allowing you to orchestrate a more personalised and efficient customer service experience across
Wrong. You don’t need to replace your systems and legacy infrastructure, you need to be able to connect them, making the data held in each system accessible, allowing you to orchestrate a more personalised and efficient customer service experience across end-to-end customer processes. What you need is an…
5. Orchestration layer to remove communication complexity
From messaging-based automated alerts and notifications to multi-channel live-chat and chatbots, an orchestration layer is needed at the centre of customer service transformation. It allows for:
• Siloed infrastructure to be bridged, allowing data contained within to be used to personalise engagement and create customer service based journeys focussed on fulfilment.
• Messaging communications and capabilities to be easily integrated with business applications, workflows and websites.
• Customer journeys to be mapped across multiple channels, allowing businesses to shape the outcomes of different customer interactions and scenarios.
Investing in a cloud orchestration layer is a must, as it allows a business to accelerate the launch of new digital initiatives and services without making substantial changes to their current infrastructure. It’s the quickest path to enabling a better customer service experience and the cheapest.
To watch the live recording of the webinar simply click on the button below.