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Improving quality of service provided to the customers is a top priority for any company these days- regardless of aspects like segment and size of the business. With customers becoming more demanding and choosier than the past, the businesses have no other choice than enhancing their service quality.
The competition is quite intense as well. Just using helpdesk software is not going to cut much ice. With time, the concept of deploying automation in customer service operation is gaining momentum! While automation in customer service sector is yet to go mainstream, the signs indicate at wider adoption rate in near future. Industry experts also feel deployment of automation and AI technologies will boost businesses in big ways.
Understanding nuances of automation in customer support sector
Of late, the words ‘automation’ and AI tech are being used a lot in customer service sector but the implications are not clear to all. The truth is some forms of automation are already being used in this sector but they are not done in intelligent, cohesive manner. The instances of people dealing with automated voice recording after calling helpline of various companies (mobile service providers for example) are quite common. Receiving automated emails after lodging grievances at a support portal of a company are also common. These automation methods are used mostly to get more time by the companies.
The new approach to deploying automation in customer service
The reality is automation techniques have been used in customer service sector for a long time- in a boring, mechanical manner, most of the times. With notable progress in internet and related technologies, and arrival of Artificial intelligence- it is time to redefine the ways to deploy automation in customer service.
Finding the balance
Despite the brouhaha and buzz around automation and its benefits in customer service, the reality is it is not a magic bullet solution! It is not possible and feasible to replace all types of human support with automation-yet. The target for organizations should be finding the right balance between human and software based support. Human support is a requirement and AI based support can be used to complement it. When the agents get fatigued, ill, remain absent or cope with excess number of customers- chat bots can be engaged to give them relief- for example. The chat bots do not sleep or get affected by human limitations. Conversations started with chat bots in a session can be picked up by human agents later. A number of companies are already deploying programmed chat bots as a complementary form of support.
Automating simple yet repetitive tasks
It is important to figure out the tasks in customer support operations that can be automated without hassles. There are several processes involved in customer support operations in any organization. The automation should be deployed in such a way that overall workflow is not disrupted. It makes sense to automate simple yet repetitive tasks. Responding to most common customer queries can be done by the ticketing software while the agents deal with really complex cases. In fact, present generation helpdesk tools have provisions for automating a large chunk of ticket creation and assigning procedures. This also helps in saving significant amount of time.
Learning from experiences/errors
AI technology is at blossoming stage and automation is yet to gain worldwide acceptance- in customer support. So, the organizations deploying automation need to be cautious and they need to learn from mistakes too.
Examples of how AI and automation are being used by companies successfully
There are some companies, including some technology giants and well known MNCs that have tasted success in deploying AI technologies in customer service. Experts think it is a matter of time before more contenders follow the same path.
Messaging with AI augmentation
It is true that pre-programmed chat bots cannot replace human agents. They cannot analyze like human agents and come up with apt response in all situations-yet. However, companies like LivePerson are using chat bots in alliance with human agents. This way- there is a balance and the bots can pick up interaction skills over time. The simpler queries are channeled to the bots while agents pick up clients with complex queries. This is where advanced algorithms of help desk tools come into picture. The agents can also cope with multiple chats at the same time-which boosts productivity eventually.
AI driven email inquiries
Some companies are using sophisticated helpdesk tool that let the agents cope with inflow of emails better. A company called DigitalGenius is using specialized software that scans and tag emails to the apt agents automatically. Besides, many helpdesk tools have options for automated conversion of emails into tickets. This comes in handy when a majority of your company customers use email for queries and lodging grievances. Needless to say, no customer likes to wait after sending an email. AI driven email management system reduces communication and interaction time drastically-which benefits both parties.
AI managed phone call management
Not only live chat and email, but telephonic support can also be enhanced by deployment of AI technologies. However, it may prove to be more difficult to implement compared to other support channels. On a technical note, software solutions deal less effectively with voice analysis than chat. There can be factors like speech patterns, Background noise, poor pronunciation that can complicate the analysis process.Besides, a section of customers call up helpline of a company as the last resort-when other measures fail. In such times, relying solely on AI and software based procedures may be tough. However, a few companies are actually deploying AI tech in voice based support- alongside human support. A startup named Cogito has come up with a conversation-analysis tool that works real time and relies on behavioral science. The AI tech used in it can detect change in volume, pitch etc. The system actually turned out to be quite effective when it was tried by insurance venture Humana. Salesforce is another company that is keen on deploying AI technology in call monitoring.
What the future looks like?
It is not without reasons that the businesses are getting interested in deploying AI and automation in customer service. Doing so can fetch them multiple benefits. The major benefits include cost reduction, evading glitches and complications, speeding up workflow and enhanced customer satisfaction.
AI is not just limited to replying to customer queries and turning mails into tickets, as it is. Several big companies are using AI in other ways. For example, food brands like Dominos and Subway are already using AI to let the customers place orders online. The digital voice assistants like Alexa are also being used for placing voice guided orders. Moreover, a number of banks are also migrating to AI incorporation in their procedures. These will help the customers perform basic tasks like paying bills and checking balance minus human assistance. Bank of America is about to introduce Erica, its AI banking assistant.
The worry of mass deployment of AI in customer service sector leading to jobs is somewhat exaggerated, say the experts. For quite a long time, AI enabled customer support procedures will co- exist with traditional procedures managed by human agents. It is also important to focus on the security aspect before deploying AI and automation technologies in the sector on large scale.