Where do humans fit in the future of customer service?
Growing customer expectations are forcing companies to rethink their current approach to customer service. With connected devices and artificial intelligence (AI), technology is playing a significant role in the shift to digitalized customer service interactions. According to recent data from IBM, 85 percent of all customer service interactions will be handled without the need for a human agent by 2020.
Despite the pressure to shift to automated customer service, personalized customer interactions can help your company stand out from competitors. With that in mind, here are some ways to adapt your company’s customer service model accordingly.
Invest in artificial intelligence
It’s worth noting that utilizing AI in your company’s contact center can increase the effectiveness of your customer service department. Automated systems enable your frontline agents to focus on more important issues in place of mundane tasks.
For instance, virtual call center software automatically pinpoints regional locations of callers to ensure they’re connected to agents in nearby locations. The services of virtual call center software can also improve customer service. Priority routing identifies high-priority customers and gives them shorter wait times, or even no wait times at all.
These call center services also offer a variety of features, including average handling times and call transcriptions. Average handling time measures the time from when an agent begins interacting with a customer, including holding time, talk time, and related tasks following the entire transaction.
Automated systems ultimately allow agents to devote more time to helping specific customers to make sure their needs are met, rather than rushing the interaction to handle the next customer in the queue. Additionally, this lets agents use their time to critically think through complex customer interactions.
Focus on individual customers
As previously mentioned, focusing on individual customers with complex issues is far more effective than devoting large amounts of time to customers who can be easily helped. Offering human interactions to individual customers shows that your company cares about your customers and allows deeper connections to be made, which in turn creates a better customer service experience.
Focusing on individual customers also enables your agents to discover information about your customers. Opening up the conversation may reveal that customers use your products in unexpected ways, that your products are reaching new demographics, or that there were service problem areas previously invisible to you.
Offer digital channels
In 2017, web chat was the fastest growing channel, while chatbots were used by less than two percent of all businesses. The explosion of AI spending and an increased knowledge base led chatbots to become the first stop in the customer service journey. In fact, a recent survey by Spiceworks revealed that 40 percent of all large businesses will implement chatbots by the end of 2019. Since chatbots don’t sleep and are less expensive than agents, they’re able to perform routine and repetitive tasks with ease.
Although 75 percent of customers say that humans provide more effective customer service, 76 percent of those customers still want the option to interact through digital channels. The number of customers who would prefer to interact through AI depends on the industry. Giving your customers the option to interact through digital channels to obtain information about order history, tracking, and returns will help expand your customer base and leave your current customers satisfied.
The growing prevalence of technology in the customer service industry is forcing many businesses to adapt their current approach to customer service. Although AI offers quick and efficient solutions to easy issues, personalized human interaction is still required to solve more complex problems.