I really looked forward to watching Wimbledon last week. Don’t we all love a good game? However, as a loyal fan, the nail-biting joy of watching tennis was spoilt for me, as I had to turn down the sound to be able to focus on the game rather than the disturbing noises made by some players.
This reminded me how some businesses on-board new digital service channels. They might deploy a new channel simply to keep up or intimidate the competition, but forget that their customers will be the ones using it. Businesses must be ‘present’ on their customers’ preferred support channels. But mere presence isn’t enough: customers expect their experience to be equally swift no matter the means they use to get in touch with a business.
Let’s leave the noise for the crowds.
In the old world, you devoted 30% of your time to building a great service and 70% of your time to shouting about it. In the new world, that inverts.” – Jeff Bezos CEO of Amazon
The game of tennis bears many similarities to a business. Both are painful to watch when their performance isn’t up to scratch. And not being on top of your game can lose you valuable customers or fans.
Although the aim of the game appears quite simple – keeping the ball within the bounds of the court, but out of an opponent’s reach – the point scoring concept can make it hard for a new viewer to keep track of what is going on. And in business, on-boarding new digital channels for customer support might seem simple enough, but there is so much more to online support than just providing customers with a means to contact you.
Think about the last time you bought tickets for an event (maybe Wimbledon). Did you drive to the venue, maybe pitch a tent to wait in line for tickets, or did you register online to buy tickets and have them printed or emailed to you after a few simple clicks? If you’re like most people, the self-service online option certainly makes more sense. The same can be said about customer support. Overwhelming statistics across industries state that 81% of all customers prefer to self-serve answers to their support queries, before having to speak to an agent ~ Forrester
Forrester also reports the cost of a self-service query on average costs less than 10 pence, while the average cost of human aided support (phone, e-mail, or webchat) is more than £5.37per query for a B2C company and just under £10 for a B2B company.
Given the huge potential benefits with using self-service tools to enhance customer satisfaction and reduce costs, businesses have much to gain by implementing web self-service technologies. With major advances in NLP architype, self-service technologies have been enormously effective at removing low-complexity issues from the agent support queue.
But herein lies the challenge though: As customers self-serve simple issues themselves, frontline support agents get increasingly more complex queries and issues customers can’t solve on their own. So, what’s the problem?
Some companies that have focused on new self-service technologies, underinvested in agent support. With the absence of an agent knowledge-base supporting contact centre agents, inconsistencies in answers lead to both customer and agents getting upset and frustrated.
When agent numbers increase from 25 to 125 during the Christmas season, one of London's leading upmarket department stores are still able to maintain high levels of customer service. Using a Synthetix knowledge platform, temporary customer service agents can be trained rapidly, with the assurance that they are delivering correct and consistent information to customers over telephone and webchat channels.
Retailers of this type see a huge percentage of their online business crammed into six weeks each year, which makes its critical for their customer satisfaction rates to remain consistent throughout this surge during festive months.
Businesses that have invested in a contact centre agent knowledge platform have reported:
However, it’s important that your omni-channel game plan integrates digital support channels with each other.
Virtual Agent / bot
Remember when “there’s an app for that” was a popular catchphrase? Now, as customers’ smartphones fill up with apps they’ve only used a handful of times, and businesses try to reach consumers while they’re online, the zeitgeist has shifted to “there’s a bot for that.”
The most exciting thing about a bot or Virtual Agent as a medium, is allowing humans to step in when needed. Bots in themselves aren’t revolutionary – we’ve had phone trees and robotic dialogues for a while – but when paired with human intelligence for tasks a Virtual Agent can be a powerful tool.
Virtual Agents are not only upping the personalisation stakes. The hybrid approach of blending AI with human support enables contact centre agents to focus on complex customer queries and transactions requiring an emotive connection. A Virtual Agent, when deployed correctly, with a set of specific goals, can generate leads, increase sales, and grow a business in a big way, switching on an entire additional support channel, and this is only the beginning!
But don’t build a bot just to follow a trend; build a bot if it helps you solve a problem better, or get to market faster.
Implementing a successful omni-channel strategy is tricky.
In tech years - Synthetix are pioneers. We have been creating ‘New World’ customer experiences, revolutionising online customer service with our seamless integration of customer contact channels such as Virtual Agents, FAQ search, live chat and e-mail management.
We’ve put together a selection of concise resources to share our wealth of knowledge and best practice tips from our customers to cut through some of the hype surrounding new and existing online customer service tools.
Embrace the shift, don’t get left behind.