call center

Automation First – The New Front Line of Customer Services

28.09.20 Written by Futr

If you have customers or stakeholders that rely on your organisation, it’s quite possible that live chat is already a crucial part of your customer service.

But what happens after the end of the working day? If you run a housing association and a council house tenant reports a leak at 2 AM in the morning, who is there to pick it up?

In many cases, nobody does. The customer has to wait, frustrated.

But here’s the thing: In today’s online-first world, you need to be open all the time, 24/7. Gone are the days when ‘business hours’ were 9 to 5.

Unsurprisingly, in an interesting piece of research commissioned by Zendesk, customers demand instant service day and night.

But how is this practical without running your employees ragged? You could increase headcount, but with dwindling budgets, this is seldom an option.

It turns out there is a very eloquent solution to this, and one that future-minded companies are adopting already.

It’s called automation.

It is in fact now possible to have an automated presence on your live chat, a sort of ’front of house’, fielding questions before they even get to a flesh and bones member of staff.

Sounds like science fiction? Not at all. It’s being used by many, many companies already.

There are many benefits to doing this.

Benefits of live chat automation

1. Self Service

If you take a portion of live chat conversations and analyze what those dialogues are about, you’ll find that a significant number of those question and answer exchanges are similar, if not the same.

They may be phrased slightly differently, but in essence, people ask the same few things, as the answers from your staff are.

With AI-driven bots, you can now answer those typical questions automatically, without any need for a physical human being to be involved.

The customer receives the exact same answer they would had it been a person answering it, only ‘behind the scenes’ its a bot doing the talking, not a human.

And here’s the thing: bots are are not cold and calculated. No. Conversational interfaces have come on a long way in recent years and are positively human (just think of Alexa).

The reply will be a helpful, polite response, much like a member of your staff.

2. Relieves boredom

bored woman

Far from being a threat to your workforce, bots are actually a massive help.

Answering the same questions repeatably is not only a time suck on your staff’s time, it can be tedious and mundane.

Live chat automation frees your team from the routine questions, keeping them fresh for escalated issues that the bot couldn’t answer.

3. Speed

If you’ve ever had to wait in a live chat queue – you’re number 14 in a line – only to get distracted then completely forget about it, you’ll know how frustrating it can be.

The reality is, in any business, there are busy times of the day and year when a fully staffed team will struggle to field all the questions.

How many of those customer questions are asking similar things taking valuable time away from people who really need help? In our experience, many.

4. Multi-lingual

How many languages does your team of call handlers speak? If you’re lucky, you’ll have a handful of languages covered.

But how about 100’s of languages? Unless you have a huge global team, it’s probably unlikely.

Here’s the thing about bots that is seldom spoken about. They are incredibly inclusive. You can ask a bot a question in any language and it will reply in that same language.

5. Phrasing

two women speaking

Which brings us neatly onto phrasing. Two people can speak the same language but use entirely different phrasing, colloquialisms, broken sentences, and even slang, to express themselves.

Bots are multilingual but are also adept at understanding all the nuances of language that a call center operative might struggle with.

Not only can bots understand colloquialisms and ‘turns of phrases’, but then can also respond using a similar dialect.

6. Triage

Bots won’t know everything your customer asks about, and sometimes only a human will suffice.

Enter one of the most important uses of bots: triage.

In many cases, a bot will be able to service the customer, but in those cases where it can’t, the issue will be escalated and the customer passed to a human operative for assistance.

This way, the bots work as a sort of ‘catch-all’ front of house service, sort of like a receptionist in a hotel.

What time is dinner? “8 pm”.

Where is the nearest restroom? “First door on the left”.

I’d like to make a complaint about room service. “Sorry to hear that, let me get the hotel manager for you”.

In all but the last example, the receptionist deals with the question. The first two questions are ones that the majority of people ask, so answering them is easy. Only the last one needs the assistance of someone else.

The exact same thing happens in automated live chat. Only a certain subset of questions are escalated to a human to tackle, the rest are dealt with by the bot.

7. Self-Learning

But it doesn’t stop there. AI bots are not just call-and-response mechanisms, they are self-learning entities that improve over time.

The longer they work on your business, the better they get at solving your customer’s issues.

8. Real-Time, Actionable Data

Automated live chat support has another benefit besides offering speedy support to your customers. You can also glean important insights from the data that’s collected.

Each time a customer is served, the information is recorded and grouped by type. That data can then be interrogated to understand what your customers are struggling with, and ultimately where your business needs to improve.

Data like this has traditionally been hard to capture with traditional call center setup.

9. Cost

money coins

According to research it costs about $1 per minute for the average call center to service a customer. And that doesn’t take into account the time it takes for training the member of staff up.

As we’ve discussed, human support will always be needed for those escalated issues.

However, automating a certain percentage of your live chat support will improve your bottom and line and significantly reduce running costs.

As we’ve seen, automating live chat not only provides a step-change in customer support, it makes financial sense.

Far from a threat to your workforce, bots complement your team and alleviate a lot of the work, making life easier for everyone concerned.

With real-time data, they also give you an insight into the areas of your business that need most help.

If you’re interested in knowing more about bots that could help your organisation, reach out to us for a demo.

  • Published 28.09.20
  • By Futr
  • In Features