Tool time, task time and how ChatGPT will change everything in customer support – Interview with Des Traynor of Intercom


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Today’s interview is with Des Traynor, Chief Strategy Officer and Co-founder at Intercom. Des joins me today to talk about some research they recently conducted around customers’ communication preferences and what that means. We then go on to talk about ChatGPT and how they believe it will change everything, particularly in the world of customer service, support and experience.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – Let your people be the humans they’ve spent all their life training to be – Interview with John Sills of The Foundation – and is number 458 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Here are the highlights of my chat with Des:

  • Our research shows that 75% of consumers say communication that makes them feel valued is a top factor in continuing to do business with a brand.
  • 61% of customers also say feeling valued and respected is even more important than getting a quick customer support response.
  • Good customer support requires a contextual understanding of communication preferences. Their research uncovered differences in style and preferences across generations.
  • Valued means communicating with the customer in a way that’s contextually aware.
  • Valued also means handling situations with context.
  • Omnichannel is the future because it’s what the next generation wants.
  • ChatGPT changes everything.
  • All software is ultimately an interface of inputs and outputs.
  • Software will now do a lot of the easier parts of the work, which historically took up a lot of your attention.
  • We talk about what’s called tool time and task time. Task Time is when you’re actually doing the work. Tool time is the time it takes using the tool to communicate what’s already clear in your head.
  • I think we’re going to see the cost of tool time reduced to zero because of ChatGPT and technologies like it.
  • I think this changes creativity. It changes input output. Ultimately, it changes industries.
  • This technology will change customer service or support specifically because there is a certain amount of stock knowledge taht it can be pointed at and it is perfectly capable of explaining things in well-written way that sounds quite respectful and, at the same time, drastically reduces the amount of tool time.
  • The use of the technology will, however, require human judgment.
  • The opportunity for customer service teams, therefore, is to get really good at the judgement aspect, how they’re applying it and then actually to get more proactive and get ahead of issues.
  • I use a Soduku example to explain this: As you get towards the end of a sudoku puzzle, you know you’ve broken the back of it. Now, you know it’s just a game of completion. Apply that to a customer support puzzle where once you have broken the back of a problem, everything after that is just typing. So, if you reduce that typing down to a few keystrokes, then that’s actually a significant save. At the same time, it also generates more engaged employees because they don’t have to fall into the trap of having to write three paragraphs to close out a query.
  • Intercom’s customers who have had early access to their application of ChatGPT technology are describing it as revolutionary and game-changing.
  • They are blown away by the idea that they can turn three bullet points, say, into an entire help centre article and how, when you expand that into needing to generate 10 articles a day, that’s a big boost.
  • We believe the future will be automation first or artificial intelligence first. However, the handover between humans and bots is something that we will be working hard to perfect because I don’t think we’re going to get close to a world where there is no judgement involved in providing a great support experience.
  • Internally we talk a lot about resilience and how you maintain performance through change.
  • Resilience to take the bumps in the road and adaptability to see the opportunities and not feel threatened by them.
  • Too many things have changed in technology, the behaviour of Internet citizens and the world at large for you to assume that your support strategy is the right one.
  • Consider doing a hard refresh.
  • Don’t carry any baggage from the past into the future.
  • Design a customer experience knowing that things like automation will get better, knowing the things that customers’ expectations of bots will rise, and lots of other things are going to change. We don’t have a say in that. We only have a say in how we respond.
  • Des’ Punk CX word(s): Adaptability
  • Des’ Punk XL brand: Amazon

About Des

Des Taynor Chief Strategy Officer and Co FounderDes Traynor is Chief Strategy Officer and Co-founder at Intercom. He leads R&D, including Product, Engineering, and Design. Previously, he co-founded Exceptional, and was a UX designer for web apps.

Check out Intercom, their recent research around customers’ communication preferences, say Hi to them on Twitter @intercom and @destraynor, respectively and feel free to connect with Des on LinkedIn here.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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