According to a report by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, the current customer landscape can be attributed to two driving forces: 1. Consumers are embracing digital channels as a response to COVID-19, and 2. The narrowing generational digital divide.
When COVID-19 gripped the world, call volumes skyrocketed to unprecedented heights, and organizations struggled to connect consumers with live customer service agents. Hence, to meet new surges in customer contacts, artificial-intelligence-driven tools and digital channels were rapidly deployed. As a result, customer service teams must cater to different expectations and varying degrees of comfort with key digital channels.
On the one hand, mobile-savvy consumers expect organizations to be available online at any time with high-quality customer experiences. They typically demand fast and seamless customer service on their own terms and often prefer finding answers and solutions themselves. Meanwhile, Boomers and those who might have relied exclusively on human agents now often consider chatbots and self-service as their go-to support solutions. However, many continue to demand a seamless, personalized experience, even when in-person isn’t possible.
How, then, can organizations truly create a frictionless, omnichannel customer experience? Adopting a balanced digital-plus-human-touch approach to service and support has clearly become the need of the hour. Doing so not only promises to meet the ever-evolving expectations of consumers of all ages but can also provide organizations with an opportunity to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
A Tag-Team Effort for Improving Customer Experience
Many of the world’s largest brands now rely on chatbots to respond quickly to customer inquiries using conversational dialogue. At the same time, data analytics tools empower agents with knowledge, driving customer satisfaction and financial performance. Furthermore, automating back-office functions, such as accounting, can also boost business agility and improve customer experience.
As a result, a new model for customer care is fast emerging, combining the convenience of online self-service with instant access to a human agent when problems get confusing or complex. For instance, a multinational electronics company had AI-powered chatbots handle 20% of its digital conversations. However, despite the chatbots’ increasing sophistication, the software still couldn’t contextualize data — a fundamental requirement for human-like conversation — or provide the human reasoning needed to diagnose certain customer concerns. But by allowing the AI-based software to collaborate with live agents, the company could optimize its interactions with customers while handling a higher volume of interactions than would be possible with an entirely human workforce.
Knowledge transfer is another advantage of a blended approach to customer service. The chatbots of the abovementioned company handle customer questions online, collecting valuable information until the chat is passed to a human agent via an automated customer service process flow. The agent would then turn to an AI-driven customer support solution for algorithmically accurate guidance. Relying on sophisticated machine learning algorithms to continuously read and interpret what the customer and agent are saying while considering previous interactions, the system is able to make predictions and help the agent offer the best solution or course of action.
The Holy Grail of Modern Customer Care
As new market realities turn up, technology solutions such as AI-powered chatbots, data analytics, and self-service channels will only multiply, providing customer care teams with new ways of thinking about and reimagining the future of customer service.
While innovative technologies can quickly address simple issues and free agents to work on more complex and personal customer concerns, technology efficiencies should not come at the expense of human connection and empathy. They should instead augment, enhance, and improve human interactions.
Teleperformance has been in the people business for more than 40 years, connecting people with their favorite brands by striking a balance between advanced tools and human empathy. We refer to this as our high-tech, high-touch approach.
Learn more about Teleperformance’s unique perspective and how technology and the human touch can come together to meet — and exceed — today’s customer expectations. Download the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services White Paper: A Modern, Post-COVID-19 Model for Customer Care.