Ashish Santhalia is the CEO and Co-founder of Convin. The company assists growing organizations in better understanding their customers’ needs and improving agent performance. Ashish and the other co-founders are on a mission to materialize a holistic solution. The solution caters to global sales professionals and contact centers to assist them in uncovering crucial customer data and automatically enhance agent call performance. He has extensive experience working in the tech industry for his startups and several fast-growing B2B SaaS organizations like BYJU’s and LimeTray. Entrepreneurship came naturally to Ashish during his engineering stint at IIT-Delhi. He and several others ventured into creating a mobile app that replaced noticeboards and posters in colleges.
As customers, we’ve often approached a company’s customer service to seek a practical resolution for our issues. The calls begin on a good note, then 20 minutes later, the call is transferred to another agent or supervisor, and the answer is still pending.
We take to Twitter to avenge the awful experience, realizing that one tweet can damage a brand’s reputation. But why do we take such an aggressive step?
In a study by Esteban Kolsky, a CX researcher, 72% of customers would recommend a brand to six or more acquaintances. Conversely, 13% of your unhappy customers will tell 15 of their friends and family about your company.
The above experience is indicative of today’s clients and their constantly evolving demands. Clients interacting with customer service agents aren’t just looking for resolutions but more options, faster responses, and a personalized experience. Unfortunately, with the advent of customer-centric brands like Netflix, Uber, Amazon, and many more, customers are no longer willing to compromise on convenience and are highly spoilt for choice. Consumers feel that on-demand, anything, and everything is their birthright. 69% of customers decided to discontinue their relationship with brands that delivered a negative customer service experience. The biggest irony is that customers are ready to interact with bots but want to be treated like humans. Not bots and numbers. Clearly, customers want service that matches their expectations, is straightforward, self-serving, on multiple channels, and most importantly, not frustrating.
So the next logical question is, how are customer service teams responding to ever-evolving customer demands?
How does AI revolutionize the customer service experience?
The addition of AI has considerably changed how companies deal with customer queries, making agents’ lives a wee bit easier.
Artificial intelligence (AI) can assist in handling straightforward queries with Chatbots instead of agents. By adding this layer, agents can invest time in handling complex questions more effectively. Not just queries, the multiplication of user-query channels can help users reach the customer service teams faster. Yet, social media and other non-voice channels aren’t completely capable of addressing customer queries in a few industries like banking, healthcare, etc., where the issues are more complicated than one can comprehend. In those situations, agents would need to attend voice calls.
AI definitely needs human assistance to train it for complex queries and make it smarter. Still, with the addition of AI, companies can realize a dramatic reduction in human dependency and an increase in consistently meeting customer expectations.
How has AI penetrated the customer service function so far?
While we speak, multiple AI-based changes have already materialized in the customer service teams. And in the last decade, I have made some note-worthy observations about customers, agents, and the customer service cycle due to the contribution of AI and auxiliary technologies.
- Majority of call centers are showing a shift from reactive customer interactions to proactive ones. Analytics plays a key role in bringing proactive decisions into the foreground.
- Cutting human dependency has been a much-awaited transition, and automating processes and introduction of self-service portals reduce human intervention to a great extent.
- Speed and agility are no longer an option. Customers rightfully seek resolution immediately and in fewer clicks.
- Gone are the days when 9-5 customer service could work. Today customers demand round-the-clock customer-agent interaction.
- Voice channel is still the most sought-after option in many industries. But customers desire multiple touchpoints (chat, message, email, etc.) to seek service and support.
- Integrated channels allow more customer data collection indicating contact details and problems before the beginning of a service call.
- Gatekeeper virtual chatbots operating on automated workflows are at the forefront of customer interaction, reducing the burden on agents by minimizing the inbound support and service calls.
- AI offers agents personalization and predictive capabilities that improve customers’ experience.
- Faster escalations and multiple queries are handled simultaneously.
- Implementing real-time analysis impacting search knowledge base and guidance is a major milestone in customer interaction activities.
What you see is just a high-level glimpse into the customer service transformation. Customers and service providers are reinventing themselves by the second. There has been an unexpectedly high pace of change in the customer service industry, which is on everyone’s list to gain a competitive advantage.
The shifting landscape of AI-driven Customer service
Artificial intelligence wave hasn’t left any stone unturned to help redesign customer service processes for customers and agents. Customer services teams primarily focus on enhancing two key areas:
- Agents performance
- Customer experience
And, artificial intelligence is an integral technology penetrating both with significant results.
- Assisted by AI move, agents are racing towards the highest level of performance. Agents are under strict surveillance, and every AI score is another step to improving interaction quality.
- Customers receive the right information at the right time from customer service reps and not just the correct information but the average handle time has significantly decreased along with better quality of responses.
- Owing to the constantly evolving analytics engine, agents and managers alike are pressed to discover winning behavioral patterns to create a highly-repeatable call success model.
- Furthermore, personalized and targeted automated coaching positively impacts first-call response, heavily cutting customer acquisition costs and reducing new hire ramp-up time by 60%.
Every move towards improving agent performance ultimately boils down to delivering an exceptional customer experience resulting in high customer satisfaction, loyalty, and advocacy. Agents are evaluated and coached, keeping the customers’ best interests in mind. And I’m happy to announce customer experience is relatively predictive today, with every byte of conversation data making it easier to judge customers’ sentiments in the conversation.
Automated conversation intelligence engine is frequently fine-tuned to match contact center and customer requirements. Although standard practices are followed, we are mindful of industry-specific intricacies when dealing with customers.
A Final note: Take inspiration from customers’ next move.
During the pandemic, several alcohol manufacturers took a leap of calculated faith and started manufacturing hand sanitizers. Health and fitness clubs went online, and hotels earned revenue as isolation centers. While the contradictory business decisions sound funny, these strategic moves were praise-worthy and welcomed with open arms.
AI alone can’t create magic. Every industry and company running a customer service must listen to and watch their customers. Learn how and where AI can be implemented and make customers’ life convenient.
As of today, customers have left the traditional way to interact with customer service providers, and being a laggard can cost your company revenue and many customers. So, keep AI close but customers closer. While customers definitely run the show, don’t let them distract you from optimizing contact center operations and keep your cost and investments at bay.