With competitive pressure intensifying, businesses understand that good customer service is essential now more than ever.
With the increase of digital customer demands, individuals will no longer accept a poor customer experience, inadequate advice, or lengthy waiting times, especially when they have the option of switching to other companies. With this in mind, how can companies make sure that their customers have a unique and outstanding experience? The answer to this is intelligent customer service.
Intelligent customer service
The concept of customer service has evolved over recent years. Previously, the ‘intelligent’ aspect of customer service relied on the call centre agent and their own intelligence. An excellent agent would be able to understand how to solve customer problems most quickly, navigate systems, learn the steps needed to solve common requests and develop the best practices. That’s why, in the past, the quality of a company’s customer service relied heavily on the competence of its call centre workers.
The mindset of intelligent customer service then evolved into trying to better understand customers and what they want. Because of this, numerous companies aimed to establish a 360-degree view of their customers. While this effort was based on a solid idea, forming a centralized database ultimately resulted in a mass flood of information. As a result, many businesses realised that providing too much information to agents can be as detrimental as providing them with too little information.
With the emergence of new channels, we then saw customer service extend beyond the traditional norms of telephone, adding another challenge to organisations. With channels such as chatbots, mobile apps, and social media being introduced, it became more difficult for businesses to make sure that their interactions were consistent. Even when customers switch from their mobile app to smartphone, or from an agent in email communication to a chatbot, it became the responsibility of the company to give customers the impression that they are talking to each identical ‘contact person’.
Over time, these challenges have only become more complex, with communication channels evolving further and tools such as self-service portals becoming widespread.
For organisations to meet these challenges, they have to enrich their customer service with intelligence. This will mean that organisations have to offer both a consistent and contextual experience for customers. To do this, two factors need to be considered: acquiring customer data and consistent customer communication across all channels.
The customer data factor will mean that an organisation has a great deal of information about their customers, which includes their contact history with the organisation, the context of their request and their current feelings. If a customer feels dissatisfied, a company will have to go to great lengths of applying empathy to ensure that this feeling does not continue. In contrast to this, if a customer’s mood is good or neutral, this may be an opportunity for them to make a cross-selling or up-selling offer.
The consistent quality of customer communication across all channels is based on how companies can give the right answer, irrespective of the communication channel used.
There shouldn’t be any differences in the quality of the solution, speed or advice. An efficient solution to customer challenges always requires several activities to achieve the most appropriate outcome. Businesses will need to rely on data quality and availability for this to be achieved. With the increasing amount of customer data collected from different interactions and channels, an artificial intelligence (AI) solution will be required to analyse the data in real-time and recommend solid solutions that provide the next best available action.
Decisive benefits can emerge as a result of a company implementing an integrated solution for intelligent customer service. UPC , which is one of the largest cable network operators in Switzerland, is an example of this.
Urs Reinhard, who is the chief digital and customer officer for UPC, stated that the company’s agents will try and collect all relevant customer information on the first screen of a modern customer service application. They will only need around five seconds to understand the customer, even without any clicks. This has resulted in UPC reducing the average processing time of each customer by more than 30 seconds. The outcome being that customers receive a faster and better service.
An intelligent service is what companies will need to meet or even exceed customer expectations. This is because it helps organisations create smoother customer experiences and locate relevant solutions in near real-time, irrespective of the communication channel the customer prefers to use. The productivity for call centre agents will also rise as a result of optimised, intelligent customer service, meaning they can dedicate more time to those customers who need their help most.