By HGS SVP of Solutions and Capabilities, Parikshit Kalra
Earlier this year, HGS released a white paper on this year’s top 10 trends in customer service. Over the course of the year, we’re dedicating a blog post to each of these CX game changers. Here, we dissect CX Trend No.7: Smart Bots&Brains™ Strategy, highlighting tools and tactics designed to drive the right answer, fast, for your customers—to ultimately result in a higher CSAT and NPS score for your business.
Every day customers’ service expectations escalate, with world-class companies like Amazon and Apple setting an excellence standard that is leading with self-service and integrating human expertise when it adds value. Households have adopted digital and artificial intelligence (AI) innovation as a way of life. Think “Hello Siri.” Starting your conversation with a bot is rapidly becoming the new norm.
In 2018, the winning customer service formula is a strategic “bots-brains” approach, leaning on intelligent automation to create optimized CX, intelligently integrating people at key moments of truth. According to Gartner, by 2020, 10% of business-to-consumer, first-level engagement requests will be taken by virtual customer assistants, up from less than 1% in 2017. The key to making it work is to not rely overtly on one aspect, whether bots or human agents. The right blend of both is what will work in delivering the best of both worlds while keeping customers happy and getting you the most of both bots and people.
Businesses are learning from early adopters that the right integration of human agents with bots can drive cost optimization, improve operational agility, capture new revenue streams, and transform customer experience. The ideal self-service approach has proven to be an intelligent, balanced integration of more empowered and empathetic human agents with the highly efficient bots. With the right channel routing strategy in place, bots can assume more menial service tasks, requiring service agents to evolve to the more sophisticated tier 2 ambassador responsibilities, often requiring more empathy or critical thinking. For example, chatbots can easily handle routine tasks like launching the store locator to help a customer locate a store nearest to them instead of an agent spending time on this, thereby freeing up agent time for a customer facing serious CX issues. Another important capability is for bots to know when a customer interaction is beyond their ability and needs to be transferred to a human agent.
As technology advances, bots are becoming more evolved in being able to create near human interactions through application of Natural language Processing (NLP) that helps the bot understand colloquial terms, gauge conversational tones better, and improve understanding. A consistent customer experience that bridges channels is extremely important for the demographic of connected customers that represents today’s buyer market.
Whether front-end bot or bot-assisted agent, tomorrow’s businesses will employ automation where it adds value through reduced customer effort (improving CSAT by guiding customers to the right answer fast), cost-containment, or revenue generation. Bot deployment frees up human labor for higher-minded, more emotional, and complex decision making. According to a recent report by Horses for Sources, automation is making way for strong growth of high- and medium-skilled personnel—with highly skilled positions in the service provider industry increasing by 56%, and medium-skilled by 8%. However, low-skilled, routine jobs drop 30% as many of these roles get phased out over the next five years. It’s imperative for employees to build their skills to optimize the bots-brains alignment that drives both cost-containment and revenue generation for today’s businesses.