By Karen McFarlane, VP of Marketing, North America
Let’s talk facts.
75% of customers want to self-serve. Let that resonate for a moment. The vast majority of customers don’t want to speak to a live agent. They want to figure things out themselves.
These same “independent” customers want and expect service that is fast, right and easy. Furthermore, they aren’t too concerned about your internal processes. They have the same expectations no matter where they chose to engage with your brand. That means you need to deliver anytime, anywhere omnichannel service – even in different languages. Because if you don’t, 55% said they will leave you.
So if all the studies agree, why aren’t you doing anything about it? It’s time to build up your self-service channels.
Point blank – you’ve got to meet your customers where they are. They’re on the web, on mobile, in social….gosh they’re everywhere – even on the Apple iWatch!
When you find them, they want seamless, personalized interactions. Don’t make them repeat themselves over and over. If you collect the information once, make it carry through to every conversation. Better yet, if they start a conversation in one channel like live chat, make sure it carries over to the live agent too.
Finally, when you’ve got ‘em – be quick about it. No one wants to wait forever for an answer. (See how I was asked to wait on Live Chat for over 40 minutes.) And whatever you do, solve their issue! In fact, long wait times, wrong answers and lack of ability to help are the top three things that upset customers the most.
So that’s a lot of talk, but how can a big company like yours make it actionable when you’ve got thousands of people contacting your call center and using live chat?
Well, there are plenty of companies delivering self-service using intelligent virtual agents (IVA). You can read more on IVAs here, but suffice it to say that by using this smart machine technology, you can automate responses to the most common customer questions, personalize them, and interact with customers just as a live agent would in virtually any channel. And here’s the kicker – virtual agents can talk to hundreds, if not thousands of customers all at once. Live chat agents can only handle 3 to 4 at a time.
The benefits? Instant self-service. Decreased cost. First contact resolution. Agent productivity and happy customers that get fast, effortless answers in any medium of their choosing.
Best of all, you don’t have to rip out and replace any existing tech to use IVAs. It’s a “bolt-on” solution to your CRM, apps and customer service tools. For example, one of our wireless telecom clients wanted to test out the IVA with our pilot program. Their IVA is now integrated with live chat to ensure seamless handovers to live agents for more complex customer queries, but can answer customer questions and direct them to the appropriate website pages to support their query without live agent intervention. After just three months, they decided to roll it out across their entire site. We wrote about it here. As another example, Time Warner Cable integrates their IVA – Ask TWC – in their mobile app and on their site.
There are dozens of ways to integrate IVA smart machine technology into the fabric of your customer service strategy. And it has quickly become an imperative. Today’s customers want a personal approach and demand more forcing the market to adapt to their changing needs. Given that, how much efficiency and customer satisfaction can be gained when using a traditional, one-size fits all solution to deal with thousands of individuals? Not much. But it doesn’t matter what I say. Your customers are telling you what they want and it’s time to deliver before they go to someone else who is actually listening.