AI or Humans for Customer Service? The Answer Lies HERE!

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AI is taking the world by storm – 2023 is, in fact, being called AI’s “breakout year” with its use growing at an unprecedented pace. As per surveys, many businesses already use AI tools in at least one business function. It is being used quite widely in marketing and customer support functions with the aim of not only reducing agent workload but also boosting CX. AI-based bots are enabling human-like conversations to the extent that customers can barely distinguish whether or not they are chatting with a human. Generative AI tools are helping marketing teams create customized email campaigns, write blogs, and more. They are helping brands to personalize the customer experience – bots are being trained to identify diverse emotions, including happiness, sadness, anger, and frustration, and tailor their responses as per their customers’ emotional state. They can even identify patterns and trends in customer sentiment over time and fine-tune their responses, offering the best level of customer support. So does AI sound the death knell for humans when it comes to providing customer service? We think not. 

Some businesses are mistakenly hoping that simply embracing AI-backed technologies can fix all their customer service woes and boost operational efficiency. Cost pressures, increasing competition, and picky customers ever ready to switch to rival brands offering better services have led some businesses to believe that AI-backed technologies will bring much-needed relief and will help them edge out competition. They think machines will easily do the job of humans when it comes to marketing, customer care and support, and back-office functions and help them eliminate manpower costs. However, it is incorrect to imagine that customer service is better off without the human touch. The need for that human touch is not going away any time soon, if ever. Sure, technologies can enable greater automation of routine tasks, simple query solving, etc., but they can’t replace human agents when it comes to nuance, judgement, and empathy which is often needed when customers come with trickier problems or have fears and concerns that need to be allayed. Machines are simply not enough when it comes to creating meaningful customer relationships. 

So what’s the secret to providing unparalleled customer service? 

Businesses across verticals will do best when they equip their human teams with the right tools needed to serve customers faster and better. What customer service teams really need is technology that will help them help them do their jobs faster and better and reduce customers’ pain points across their purchase journeys. In today’s digital age, where customers are pickier than ever before and move from one digital channel to the next, businesses must prepare their support agents with the right tools to support customers swiftly and in a seamless way no matter which channel their customers are on. One of the best tools to accomplish this is to use a chat center – a single, intelligent interface that unifies customer communication across multiple channels such as SMS, live chat, messaging apps, email, etc. and helps contact centers manage customer interactions in a much more efficient way.

In What Ways Does a Chat Center Increase Agent Efficiency and Productivity?

As per a Future of CX: 2022 report by Freshworks, speed of query resolution will be the most important driver of customer satisfaction going forward. Spoilt for choice, customers are now increasingly demanding and can shift loyalty overnight after a single bad customer service experience. Bot or human, they want businesses to be highly responsive to their needs no matter when and where they are reaching out from. They hate to be kept waiting, and hate it more when their query gets transferred from one agent to the next without any resolution. Having to repeat their issues again and again to different agents, or having to identify themselves each time is also a complete dealbreaker for customers and can really dent a company’s image. Most customers now expect agents to know their contact and product information, as well as their service history, from the moment they engage. Unfortunately, most businesses find it difficult to get past these problems due to the siloed nature of channels. 

Most businesses work with systems that are not inter-connected, so there is no seamless flow of information between channels. A customer support agent will find it difficult to serve a customer who might have raised a query on email initially and later followed up on WhatsApp because they will not have full visibility into the customer’s previous interaction on email. The agent would have to request the customer to wait while they navigate different applications to look into the customer’s full profile and their concerns. This increases customer wait times and frustration, increasing chances of churn. Agents also become less productive as a lot of time is wasted in switching between systems. At the end of the day, the business suffers. 

How top brands work around these challenges is by investing in tools that empower agents to run multichannel communication with ease. A chat center is an incredibly effective tool that unifies all customer conversations in a single place and facilitates quicker problem solving. Being a single interface that can be accessed by different teams, it facilitates greater information sharing and collaboration between teams.

edna, a leading provider of digital communication tools, offers an advanced, market-ready chat center solutions that leading businesses use to manage end-to-end communication with customers irrespective of the channel they are on web chat widgets, WhatsApp Business API, email, Telegram, chats from mobile apps, Viber Business Messenger, Apple Business Chat) via ready APIs and SDKs. By integrating multiple channels, the chat center eliminates the need for agents to open up different applications in order to complete a single customer request. A chat center can support different types of content including text messages, stickers, audio and video images, emojis, GIFs, documents with comments, and so on, serving a wide variety of customer needs comprehensively. 

Key Features of a Chat Center That Helps Agents Offer Better Service

When customers can reach out from diverse channels, processing requests quickly can get complicated for agents. A chat center helps contact center teams to process customer requests coming in from all non-voice channels in a single, convenient interface. It can integrate easily with a business’s existing IT infrastructure such as CRM, CDP, HelpDesk, time management systems, recommendation services, telephony systems, and chatbots. What’s also great about a chat center is that it serves as a single workspace for different roles like agents (contact center operators), their supervisors, and for administrators who work on the general settings of the chat center, like segmentation, routing, agent chat settings, chatbot configuration, and more. This boosts internal collaboration between teams. Some of the most incredible features of a chat center are:  

 

  • 24/7 Automated Support

    Customers now reach out to businesses even outside of business hours and expect to be receive some kind of assistance.  A chat center can be connected with chatbots that can greet customers at any time of day when they initiate a conversation. The bot can be trained to share welcome messages, away messages, expected wait times, information that the chat is being transferred to another rep, etc. Bots integrated with the chat center can be trained to answer FAQs and even initiate a dialogue with a customer without waiting for the customer to carry on the conversation. They can guide customers with Quick Reply buttons so customers don’t have to type in their response. They can also consult and sell over chat, and can even transfer a client’s thread to an agent or close the thread by themselves. This level of automation speeds up customer support and boosts client satisfaction.

For a solution like edna’s chat center, a business can use the “API for Bot Connect” to easily integrate their chatbots with the chat center. Multiple bots can be used for multiple chat channels, or a single bot can do the job. An advanced chat center solution, like the one provided by edna, can send vital  information about the client to the chatbot via web hooks, for example the business’s internal client ID (which identifies the client), the channel which they are using to chat, the device they are using to chat (Android or iOS), additional fields with client information like segmentation parameter info, time when message was received, URL and name of attachments received (if any), the date of last thread, and so on.

 

  • Boost in Agent Productivity and Well-Being

    When a rep is chatting with a client, they can use universal commands in the chat center to fetch and share data from other systems instead of requesting the client to provide the information themselves. They can see easily view data-enriched customer profiles enriched with data from other systems. This helps them to minimize processing time of tickets and improves responsiveness. The chat center can also support agents via Suggested Replies, automated FAQs, etc. to share information with customers faster.
    A chat center also improves agent efficiency in request handling. For example, if accommodating a request is expected to take some time, agents can pin it and get back to the client later when they have the right answers. Reps can also add internal comments to a thread so that other agents and supervisors can see these comments when they view the chat history. They can use message templates for quick replies, search conversations using various filters, schedule tasks, and so on. This improves the agent as well as client experience. 
  • Intelligent Routing of Cross-Channel Queries

    edna’s chat center has smart routing capabilities that can automatically route queries to agents in real time in a way that best aligns with incoming query volumes. The chat center’s admin can configure routing rules for the system to ensure queries from any of the connected channels are transferred automatically to the most suitable agent based on different parameters. That could be agents who are currently available, agents who are not currently available but most suited to answer that query, the department the thread needs to be transferred to, customer intent, preferred language, and location. Having these capabilities significantly increase chances of first contact resolution and also helps managers drive their teams effectively.  
  • RealTime Agent Performance Metrics

    A chat center helps businesses monitor agent performance via visualized insights in the form of customizable dashboards, graphs, and tables Managers can track their team’s performance by by viewing the number of threads assigned to users (assigned, reassigned, in-progress, waiting), the number of active and inactive agents, the first answer service-level rate, agent idle time, etc. These dashboards provide near real-time metrics. They can also generate reports related to agent workload, operational performance, agent status log report, feedback report, and more. Having all this data at hand – including AHT, NPT, FCR, CSAT, ASA, CES – enables managers to track agent performance and make changes wherever necessary.  
  • Advanced Personalization Tools

    Personalizing customer journeys is what drives continued engagement and loyalty, so getting it right matters. A chat center has a range of personalization tools that make customer interactions more personalized. A few examples are – customer segmentation based on communication parameters as well as CRM parameters, personalized buttons for chat, geo-location-based routing, intent-based routing, scenario configuration, preferred language based on user browser settings. All these help agents to personalize their customer interactions.    


Closing Thoughts 

While AI-based technologies can handle many routine inquiries and provide quick solutions, humans are an asset that simply can’t be replaced. There will always be situations where a human touch is needed, particularly in cases where the customer is upset. Businesses will gain a real competitive edge when they use the right tools that equip humans with the right technology that provides a speedier customer service across multiple digital touchpoints in a seamless way. To achieve this, a chat center is a worthwhile investment. It can help you set new standards in omnichannel CX delivery. If you are interested in using a chat center for your business, get in touch with us now.  


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