Last update: 29 Jun, 2021
Digitalisation in customer service is driving many service managers to focus more on the chatbot than on the customer - keyword call reduction. Why?
Digitalisation is the buzzword of our time, monetisation certainly was long before that. As a result, many customer service executives see the reduction of customer enquiries as a top priority. That is hardly surprising. And yet it is wrong. True, chatbots, voice recognition and automation are essential topics in current customer service. But is it right to use them primarily with the aim of minimising customer enquiries and direct contact with the service team?
Is it just the supposed financial appeal or the fear that to be mistaken is human and that one's own service team might not deliver on the brand promise? The question arises whether it makes sense at all to classify customer enquiries on conventional channels such as calls or emails as undesirable per se? By rejecting personal contact and hiding behind impersonal, unsuitable customer service tools, the customer experience is in danger of disappearing in the shadow of digitalisation. This also neglects the fact that the best artificial intelligence only fully unfolds its effect in interaction with people.
The fact is: In call centres, most calls are not one-off. If an enquiry is not processed correctly in the first step, recurring enquiries become all the more frequent. But why do customers choose the call as their contact channel and ignore the chatbot? Here are a few possible reasons:
If it is a concrete problem, the way to the service employee seems to be the easiest solution - and this may also be most visible in central places such as the website. Does your customer service have sufficient alternative channels of comparable high quality - and do your employees have the authority to successfully handle enquiries there? Are your tools good enough to replace face-to-face customer interaction or have they perhaps even let your customers down already? Has it been effectively communicated that alternatives to the classic call centre are offered? Does the communication between the departments work in case of problem solving?
The answers to these questions are individual, but a general approach leads us to the big topic of customer experience. Understanding the customer's path to your call centre and thus their entire experience with your company is the basic prerequisite for understanding the effect of many adjusting screws. Instead of implementing a chatbot, for example, you should look at numbers, data and facts. Where can new technologies concretely improve the customer experience - and where not?
For many organisations, this is the master plan to keep up with service innovation. However, the reasons for implementation are far too rarely asked: it would be much more important to know which technology is suitable for which customers and which problems in the first place: How many of your customers are interested in virtual assistants, for example? Where can artificial intelligence actually provide meaningful support in improving the service experience? And which customers will actually use the new contact channels? Younger customer generations in particular, for example, state in surveys that they are more reluctant to call customer service and are more likely to use messenger apps. You need to create real alternatives for these customers.
However, innovations in customer service do not always directly serve your customers, but sometimes indirectly as well. They can assist your staff and make the work of filtering and digesting information easier. If the transition is to work, your team therefore plays an important role in spreading the new technologies. You pass on new forms of communication to customers and train virtual colleagues in the service team based on AI. AI relieves your service team by answering routine queries independently from the outset.
The use of AI will not ensure that you can or should pull the telephone cable out of the wall! Personal and individual contact with a service employee continues to be the first choice for many people. Companies that have abolished these options have already drawn the anger of their customers. However, a sophisticated virtual assistant based on artificial intelligence can save your customers many annoying enquiries and your employees boring routine tasks. Don't force anything, but reward customers with a better service experience based on well-integrated and ever-growing artificial intelligence.
Author: Alexandre Brauhardt