When COVID-19 hit the UK, contact centres were faced with a uniquely challenging situation – how to set their office teams up for remote working while maintaining that all-important service for customers. For many, bots provided the perfect solution…
Given the unique set of circumstances into which coronavirus threw many contact centres, it would be easy to think that now lockdown is easing and the country is returning to some semblance of normality, there will be a gradual return to the traditional way of working. But modern tech and applications have represented such an all-encompassing solution for contact centres that it’s just as easy to anticipate a new, hybrid model taking over.
Here are just five ways bots have proven their worth for customer conversations, customer experience (CX) and brand loyalty over recent months…
1. Setting expectations
Customer service phone lines have been swamped amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and businesses understandably struggled to meet the demand in the initial days. They were busy getting their teams set up for working remotely, often for the first time, and dealing with all the attendant hardware and software issues that threw up. A simple, quick fix for many was to deploy a bot that held customers in a call or chat queue and set expectations around how long it was likely to be before they could access an agent. If they didn’t fancy the wait, they could ring off and come back later. If the customer chose to wait, these bots were often set up to route calls more accurately, ensuring that the additional wait would likely be offset by a first-contact resolution to their issue.
2. Increased personalisation
Today’s customer expects to be treated like a person, not a number. Amid the global pandemic, customers have also been juggling additional competing demands for their time, so they have expected a fast, personal service. Chatbots have stepped up to meet these demands admirably, not only setting expectations around call wait times, but also ensuring the relevant customer information has followed the caller across channels and between agents. Agents have had all the information they need at their fingertips, and customers haven’t had to repeat everything about who they are and what they need every time their call has been routed between departments. This type of personalisation has greatly improved CX and customer satisfaction, as well as allowing for recommendations based on past purchases while the customer has been waiting for an agent.
3. DIY customer service
With the competing demands of childcare, home schooling and remote working, among others, spare time has been at something of a premium for many people over the past six months. Bots have been a lifesaver for customers who haven’t had the time to spend waiting to speak to somebody, enabling, as they have, a sort of DIY customer service. By spinning up the answers to frequently asked questions, automating processes like paying bills, and ensuring websites have had chatbot functionality with sentiment and keyword analytics, businesses have made it easy for customers to solve their own problems. This has had the added benefit of freeing up time for already-under-pressure agents, allowing them to focus on dealing with only the calls that genuinely required their input.
4. Faster customer service
For many of today’s consumers, a good customer service is a fast one. Nobody wants to have to repeat themselves every time they speak to somebody different within the same company, just like nobody wants to be kept hanging on a phone line for an hour before they are able to speak to somebody. Chatbots have offered an easy way for contact centres to achieve quick resolutions for customers, answering common queries almost immediately, and allowing for information to be shared quickly and easily across channels and between agents. With the right keywords in place and backed up by often in-built analytics, customer conversations can happen, and any issues can be resolved, more quickly than ever.
5. 24/7 conversations
The expectation of 24/7 service is not unique to coronavirus – this is something that has been growing among consumers over recent years – but a willingness among businesses to meet this demand has undoubtedly increased during the pandemic. Chatbot plugins on websites have become an expectation among customers who want to be able to access support and advice at whatever time of day or night they need it, and this has been a simple fix for contact centres. Chatbots are not constrained by office hours, time zones or public holidays, and offer the perfect solution for both customers and organisations – so it’s no surprise this always-on customer service tool has been a go-to amid COVID-19. International online shopping, working shift patterns, additional demands on their time during the 9-5 – there are so many reasons consumers have needed to get in touch with businesses after-hours, and in this respect, a 24/7 chatbot has been a time-saver for both businesses and consumers.
Chatbots really have helped contact centres weather the storm of increased customer demand amid COVID-19, and it’s hard to imagine them becoming anything other that an integral tool for CX going forward. We’ve put together a whitepaper on the future of contact centres – you can find it here. Alternatively, you can also read the other blogs in our contact centre series, about AI solutions and omnichannel customer services.
To discuss your contact centre needs with one of our team, contact us and we’ll help you find the best solution for your business.