As we enter into a new decade, the need for innovation in customer experience will continue to be a top priority for many businesses. With the rise of e-commerce, digital banking, and other online services, AI has become a standard part of many customer service strategies. However, just because AI has been deployed, does not mean that customers are satisfied, nor have businesses necessarily seen material results.
While 80 percent of companies believe they deliver a superior CS experience, only 8 percent of customers agree (Hyken, 2018; Forbes), an enormous disconnect. The expectations of customers will continue to force companies to comprehensively change how they engage, manage, and deliver support. As more companies augment their customer service strategy with an automation-first approach, three lessons have become clear.
Customer Expectations Have Changed
The long-standing norm of calling a company for support and waiting endlessly on the phone to speak to an overworked customer service agent is not becoming a thing of the past, it already is. Almost two-thirds of customers will not wait more than two minutes for support, and 63 percent of customers will leave a company after one bad experience.
Customers expect to be serviced on their terms, tailor-fit to their specific needs. It’s not acceptable to have one outlet for customer support; customers now expect multichannel service, and organizations must be able to meet their customers’ expectations through their website, mobile apps, social media, email, live chat, and SMS, all of which recognize the user, and their history and habits with a company.
Multichannel customer service emphasizes not just where the customer can access support, but when. Customers want to know they have access to 24/7 customer service, and not strictly during business hours Monday through Friday. Companies must allow customers to bypass rigid call center hours as the only means for support, and allow them access to assistance on their terms.
Armed with an automation-first strategy, companies can support customers on their terms through the channel of their choosing.
Customers Want More From a Self-Service Solution
While the usage of chatbots in customer service is expanding, do not be fooled. The days of the knowledge base, FAQ-chatbot are long behind us. Generic responses, despite their ease-of-access won’t make the cut in satisfying customer needs and maintaining retention. Seventy-two percent of customers want service channels to know their detailed history with the company when they begin their support query (Microsoft, 2017).
Using an AI-powered chatbot, companies can offer personalized experiences to their users when they seek support. Automated on the front end, customers can seamlessly be transferred to a live agent to handle more complex matters that require human assistance. Used appropriately, an automation-first strategy is akin to customers heading to their favorite restaurant, where the server knows their name and what they like to order. Personalization is an invaluable asset to customer experience management.
An Automation-First Strategy Will Have Measurable Impact on Your Organization
Deploying an automation-first strategy in customer service not only revolutionizes the experience for customers, but for the organizations that deploy them as well.
An automation-first approach ensures that your customer service agents will be equipped for better customer engagement. Thanks to AI, customer service reps will have quicker access to more precise and up-to-date customer information. Additionally, AI will automate the “automate-able” tasks, leaving agents to focus on the most pressing, mission-critical work.
In addition to saving your customer service team time, an AI-approach also leads to direct cost savings. Leveraging this automation-first strategy helps organizations Increase deflection rate to live support, allocate resources more strategically, reduce customer churn, and grow the Lifetime Value (LTV) of customers.
Not only does an automation-first strategy reduce costs, but it also drives revenue for organizations. Armed with an AI-approach, support discussions with customers become opportunities for upselling, or long-term customer retention. In addition to streamlining the selling process, AI allows agents to suggest the right promotions to the right customers at the right time, and use analytics to customize the upsell opportunity based on the customer’s unique history and interests with the company.
Seventy-five percent of executives believe AI will make a substantial impact on their business in the coming years (Davenport, 2018; HBR). Proof of this AI transformation at work is visible now in the transformation of customer service happening across various industries. Empowered with an AI-approach, organizations can take customer service reps out of the drudgery of repetitive questions and into the excitement and engagement of a truly value-added role.
Automated Customer Experience at LiteBit
Cryptocurrency platform LiteBit learned first-hand the power that an automation-first strategy can have on an organization. Deployed alongside an AI-powered chatbot, LiteBit’s automated customer experience (ACX) saw a measurable impact from this automation-first approach, with more than 80 percent of their customer inquiries successfully handled by a chatbot. With this success rate, LiteBit has been able to more easily modify their scheduling of agents with the reassurance that their chatbot is available 24/7 to handle customer support.
Additionally, the freedom that LiteBit’s automation-first strategy provides has allowed their ACX team members to transcend traditional support roles, and has given them the opportunity to both supply input on the technology they interface with daily, and learn new skills, making their work experiences more rewarding.
Why the Disconnect?
Automation must be embraced by organizations as the first line of attack in customer service. Strong, flexible, smart AI-powered chatbots that recognize customer needs deployed on the front lines, where and when customers want them, will transform your organization’s customer support experience. All the while, support reps will be freed up to focus on the most pressing tasks of the organization, speaking to customers when it matters the most. In this way, AI transforms your customer service function, improving CX and the service agent’s work experience.