Why Artificial Intelligence is an Agent’s New Best Friend

Let’s face it. The job of a customer service agent is not an easy job. In a typical contact center, agents are on the phone or communicating through other channels; email, text, web chat, Facebook Messenger, WeChat… When customers reach out to an agent, they need help and are often upset. They may be asking about a lost bag or debit card, a flight that was canceled or a delayed package.

What’s important to remember is customer service agents dedicate their daily professional career to helping people solve these problems. As a company’s brand ambassadors, they are the guardians of a business’s customer relationships. A customer’s impression of a company is directly related to their experience with the contact center and its agents. And since customer experience directly affects revenue, it’s about time an agent’s job got a little easier and more enjoyable so they can better serve the customer.

Unfortunately, in many contacts centers, customer service agents are asked to do more with less and do without the best technology. Imagine taking a calculator away from an accountant? They couldn’t do their job to the best of their ability. When we don’t provide agents with the best technology, they can’t possibly meet customer expectations. The result? Poor CSAT and agent attrition, which is very costly and part of what gives contact centers the black eye of being a cost center. It’s time things changed for both the agent and Customer Service departments.

Enter Artificial Intelligence (AI.) There’s a lot of hype about how AI is going to shape the future. It’s often portrayed in Hollywood as robots taking over the world and at the very least, replacing jobs. The truth about AI and machine learning is that when it’s implemented responsibly it actually allows humans to focus on the type of work they actually enjoy. Take for instance the factory floor. During the Industrial Revolution, automated machines began doing the repetitive tasks human get bored with. There are still many people working in factories, but with automation, people can focus on performing critical jobs where their intelligence is required.

In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where technologies like AI are driving change, the trend for contact centers is similar. Rather than taking jobs away, AI is blending the best of human intelligence with AI, to provide improved, seamless experiences and at the same time improve agent’s job satisfaction.

How does AI help customer service agents? First, AI bots take the burden off agents with intelligent, satisfying self-service by resolving routine customer requests. And when a customer wants to talk to an agent, the hand-off is easy. The interaction with the bot is transferred into the agent console so the customers don’t have to repeat what they did with the bot. This reduces agent’s average handle time because all the agent has all the customer interaction history. And first contact resolution is increased because the agent can quickly resolve the issue with the proper information and context. All of this adds up to increased agent job satisfaction and morale by off-loading routine, boring requests to the AI bot.

Now let’s say a customer wants to talk directly to an agent without interacting with an AI bot. AI prioritizes and classifies cases to help your agents quickly understand what the customer needs to provide a more effective and efficient experience. AI collects information about the customer and the context of their request resulting in a more connected, personalized experience. And AI increases agent productivity with a world-class, omnichannel service experience with full context to customer’s request.

As a result, agents have a sense of accomplishment by working on more challenging customer issues because the AI bots handle the routine questions. And when agents directly help customers, they are able to build loyal relationships because they are enabled by the best technology possible. And at the end of the day, the customer, their needs and exceeding their expectations is what great customer service is about. That’s all a customer service agent wants to do and it’s time contact centers gave the best possible technology to make this real.

@DrNatalie, Service Cloud, Salesforce

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New Report: Is Your Company Making Self-Service A Priority?

Want to know a paradigm that has always been false, but many people believe it? Organizations are battling each other to deliver the best customer experience for the right customer at the right time in the right channel. Customer service and customer engagement now play key roles in digital transformation strategy. However, leaders often stigmatize customer service or customer care as a cost center. This paradigm is false. Who created this paradigm should have their sanity checked. It makes no sense at all. Unless of course, a company is doing a poor job of customer service and customer experience.

Savvy managers understand the value of great customer service and experiences. Top notch self- service is a key part of excellence in customer experience. New channels such as text and social media have now surpassed the phone for the first time in history, showing how channels to the customer must be ubiquitous.

This report looks at the nine pillars for successful customer self-service include:

nine pillars of customer self service natalie petouhoff @drnatalie

Some of the benefits of providing excellent customer self-service are:

• Reducing the cost to serve customers through the deflection of issues from the content center

• Helping customers to obtain information quickly and easily on any device,
anywhere, anytime

• Delivering unique, personalized, seamless, consistent, self-service customer experiences via many channels

• Improving consistency of answers and increasing first contact resolution rates and customer satisfaction and loyalty

• Increasing positive word of mouth, earned media exposure and likelihood of recommendations about products and services to friends and family members and

• Reducing risks, fraud and mistakes and improving compliance.

For more information about this report, you can find it here.

@drnatalie petouhoff

VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Customer Service, Customer Experience and Customer Self-Service

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