What forward-thinking customer service leaders should consider now – Clare Angood discusses
When you’re running a contact centre, there are things that you can be thinking about now to make sure you get to where you want to be in the future.
Unsurprisingly, technology is the most important reason things are going to change. You’ll probably already know that in lots of cases, technology will change the way your company is going to interact with customers.
Go where customers are
There’s a term that’s doing the rounds everywhere at the moment: millennial. It means someone who was born between the 1980s and the early 2000s. These people have often been called entitled and privileged, usually because they have grown up with technology and are used to being able to contact who they want to when they want to.
But it’s not just these young people who have a millennial mindset. Older people have also become accustomed to getting what they want. This means that they are demanding quicker customer service, often through self-service.
They want to be able to find the information they want straight away, which can be the perfect opportunity to introduce chat bots. Facebook and Twitter have made it possible for businesses to set up these bots in their messaging apps, and some companies have even set up WhatsApp numbers for customers to contact them on.
When WhatsApp and Facebook each have one billion users, this is a huge amount of people that can be reached through these apps. So it makes sense for companies to go where their customers already are and introduce message app chat bots.
The role of the agent
When you’ve set your chat bots up, even if you’ve programmed it to understand natural language and it has a huge amount of knowledge, there will be things that it either can’t understand or just can’t answer.
This is when it should give the customer the option to speak to a human contact centre agent. One of the most important things to consider here is the concept of context. Agents should be told what the customer’s issue is when they pick up the phone. This avoids any annoyance when the customer has to repeat their problem.
But another very important thing to think about is the fact that the nature of conversations agents are dealing with will probably change when these bots have been introduced. That’s because the bots will deal with easier queries, while the more complicated questions and complaints are left for the human agents. So I’d recommend some training for contact centre staff to make sure they can deal with these problems efficiently. It also wouldn’t hurt to look at whether their pay rates are sufficient for the level of difficulty involved in customer interactions.
When customers do actually have to pick the phone up and call your company, there is a way of making the process less painful. It involves predicting what they will want to talk about based on their behaviour and available data.
Predictive service can involve the company recognising the specific customer’s phone number when they call, running through a potential list of meetings or events the customer is signed up to attend that day or in the next couple of days, and having the IVR ask if that’s what the customer is calling about.
In the end, it’s all about making things easier for the customer, which will have a great impact on your company. And if you can look at your operations now and make the right kind of changes, you’ll be in a great position to take on the challenges of the future.
Clare Angood is Digital and Relationship Marketing at Aspect Software
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