BARE Shares – Robots in Customer Service?

By 2020, 85% of all customer interactions will be handled without a human agent. Why? Resolving customer service issues before they arise could significantly lower customer abandonment rate. AI, chatbots and automated, self-service technologies free up call center employees from routine tier-1 support requests so they can focus on more complex tasks. Here, BARE International shares an article by Holger Reisinger for Business2CommunityRobots in Customer Service? No Way!

‘To improve customer service response times and cut costs, 32 percent of organizations plan to shift customer service from live assistance to automated service. While chat bots aren’t necessarily bad news, removing the human touchpoint – arguably the most important element of the customer journey – can cause problems. In fact, the biggest drop in the American Customer Satisfaction Index since the mid-90s happened between 2013 and 2015, when automated service kicked into high gear. The drop in satisfaction suggests that businesses need more empathetic and knowledgeable customer service agents, rather than relying solely on AI and machine learning devices.

While businesses consider the implementation of AI and machine learning in their contact centers, they should remember that technology cannot replace humans. Instead of prioritizing bots, businesses should look to customer service workers to enhance their productivity and allow humans to engage and foster relationships with customers that differentiate and remain loyal to your brand.

During and just after the busy holiday period when returns peak this is particularly important. From door busting return lines to long hold times for order updates, this season can be a minefield of crummy customer service experiences. By taking the extra step to deliver top-notch service when customers know resources are stretched, a business will no doubt retain even the pickiest of customers.

When Human Interactions Are Vital

As previously mentioned, not all bots are bad. In some instances, such as checking the status of shipment or balance of an account, interacting with a chat bot may deliver a satisfactory experience. However, when dealing with a complex problem, customers want to hear an assuring human voice, especially when already frustrated by the challenge at hand.

For example, if someone orders ski gear for an upcoming vacation and the package has yet to arrive after weeks of waiting, chances are the customer isn’t happy. Rather, than be placed on a call with a chat bot or on an extended hold, the customer will want to speak with a human who understands the nuances of the situation. The customer will react more positively to an agent who can pepper their interactions with “I understand” to show they’re listening and offer a solution to concerns.

Empower Customer Service Reps

Consider these tips to ensure that your customer service representatives are equipped to handle any holiday Grinch’s phone call:

  • Know What to Expect. When on a call, understanding that the old measures of customer service – a cheerful greeting, friendly service, on-hold times, call times and volumes, and a wrap-up upsell pitch – no longer apply. Informed answers and expert advice are what matter most to today’s increasingly knowledgeable customers.
  • Provide the Training. Customer service employees must be trained. They must have all the information they possess at their fingertips, understanding the products and services without skipping a beat. A customer expects someone on the line to know exactly how to fix their problem and won’t settle for less.
  • Research is Key. Equally important, employees need to know what the online world is saying about our products and services and how we stack up against the competition. This prepares them to speak positively about the products while countering any false or negative information.

Technology is the Key

Instead of replacing humans with AI tools, companies should look towards other technologies to assist their customer service representatives to have the best experience while on a call. This means drowning out the din of representatives and their calls, thanks to noise-cancelling headphones. One study suggests that 89 percent of patrons will leave for a competitor after a negative customer service experience – elevating the need for concentration and noise-cancelling headphones to a critical level. This ensures that even the loudest office chatter don’t disturb conversations with loyal customers.

Additionally, as customer service workers spend extensive time on the phone, organizations should consider investing in high-quality cordless headsets. A 2015 study showed that 56 percent of corded headset users reported their productivity was negatively affected because they were restricted to their desk. Enabling your employees to freely move around their workspace while on a call provides them with the option to grab a file or consult with a colleague across the office without putting customers on hold.The importance of the human element during a customer service call is critical to providing personalized and positive experiences. While companies may be tempted to cut corners, and invest in AI and bots, they should also remember that investing in employees, training and technology that empower employees ensures that their business (and customer satisfaction) will flourish.’

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