The question of customer relations is at the center of all concerns for merchants and e-merchants, because a few seconds are sometimes enough to create a negative experience likely to generate frustration and annoyance for a customer. A web page that does not load, a basket that is not updated, an order invoiced twice, hidden costs when confirming a purchase, an unfriendly seller, or out of stock are all examples of interactions that can influence customer satisfaction…
One of the solutions lies in setting up a self-service. It is the ability for a customer to obtain service or support quickly and effortlessly. In other words, searching for the answer to a question on your own through a portal specially designed for your facilitative experience, rather than wasting time calling customer service. Done right, with the right tools and the right knowledge base, self-service can totally transform the way you manage your customer relationship.
Most organizations have already built some level of self-service into their websites, sometimes even without knowing it! This can be the creation of a contextualized FAQ, the implementation of a chatbot or an online complaints management system. To go further and optimize a self-service strategy in a sustainable way, there are 4 best practices to explore.
- It is important to measure which interactions are used the most based on the number of visits and the rate of success in providing responses. For a merchant, these can be frequently asked questions about products, order and delivery status, or return requests, for example. The more these contents are consulted, and therefore requested, the more they are priority pages to integrate a global approach of self-service. These contents will be the most profitable and easy to set up.
- Leveraging the same interfaces on your site through your interactive voice response (IVR) system, using text-to-speech and pre-recorded information, provides self-service information to calling customers. The goal is not to remove the human, but to make the agent’s job easier and give customers more options.
- For instant messaging conversations, agents should be quick to share a link to the site’s self-service page and then walk the customer through the process. If done right, over time more and more people will naturally turn to self-service.
- Finally, starting simple, you can add natural language capabilities to self-service through IVR, voice bots and/or voice-enabled chatbots. To avoid cost escalation, focus on a specific set of use cases with very clear customer intent, a small number of well-defined responses, and a large number of interactions. If the natural language engine does not recognize the request, then it will simply redirect to traditional interaction processing.
Knowledge management is the process of creating, sharing, using and managing an organization’s knowledge and information. You can think of the knowledge base as the foundations of a house. If they are strong and well built, you will be safe for a very long time. If the work is sloppy and poorly done, the whole thing will be fragile and the necessary cost of reconstruction will be higher than it would have been by doing things right from the start. Often the challenge is to collect the right knowledge across the organization and turn it into structured, visual content. To successfully build your knowledge base, be sure to:
- Create digestible, short and easy-to-integrate content in a multitude of channels (text, infographics, photo, tutorial, video, audio, etc.);
- Bet on relevant content that goes straight to the point (sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, and a video is worth 1000 images!);
- Make your content indexable and enriched with the right metadata so that it is easily found, with the right keywords, a relevant categorization, and that there is logic in the way of navigating between content.
To work more effectively, prioritize content that addresses high value use cases, has a high volume of interactions, a small number of possible responses, and very clear search tags. Finally, you can use automation and collaboration tools to reduce and distribute the effort needed to create new content, leveraging your agents’ knowledge and written responses from real customer situations. One person should be responsible for managing and maintaining the knowledge base to ensure that content is well organized and delivered consistently, evaluating feedback and changes made by agents and requested by customers.
The main mistake is to want to do too much too quickly. Start with a small number of use cases, involving large interactions that generate high volumes of requests and with a small number of precise answers. It will be much more useful and productive to work iteratively, starting with the easiest and most important use cases for your customers.
Creating an editorial style and the “tone of voice” of your virtual agents or self-service chatbots is also essential. Should they be friendly, formal or informal? Humorous or serious? Conversational with short answers, or longer answers with all at once? The personality of the bot is not to be ignored, as it is strongly correlated with your image, your UX strategy and your brand positioning. Finally, it is important to keep two key factors in mind:
- Your bot won’t perform well the first time it’s deployed, and that’s to be expected, as it has to contend with real-world demands and multiple language and content variations. It will take time for him to make up the difference, much like employing a new agent.
- The bot complements the work of your contact center agents, but does not replace them. By giving, at any time, the possibility of exchanging with a human who can see the conversation and react more quickly, you will develop your omnichannel logic in a few clicks.
Artificial intelligence (AI) makes it possible to process a very large volume of information in a short time. She plays a key role in establishing a reliable customer relationship. It can thus aggregate and group a large volume of data on a customer in order to provide a complete dashboard to a teleconsultant who can create value based on existing information. The prediction of requests is also one of the great advantages. By consolidating data from various sources, some systems can predict and anticipate when a customer is likely to call a support service and for what reason. AI also enables the number of calls to be redirected to self-service solutions. Its return on investment can here be calculated by:
- The volume of diverted calls;
- The performance of self-service tools;
- The number of requests prequalified by a chatbot or virtual agent.
Many organizations are not reducing the number of agents with the growth of self-service. They use the time saved by the AI to focus agents on more complex tasks requiring human skills. Reducing routine issues in an agent’s workload can have a positive impact on reducing attrition, which saves on recruitment and training costs.
Given how quickly the accuracy and usability of AI-based voice and text analytics have advanced over the past five years, self-service is expected to improve and grow significantly over the next five years. years. Examples:
- Speech-to-text transcription (a key requirement for voice robots) will be near perfect accuracy, for a wider variety of accents and speaker types;
- Improved sentiment and emotion analysis will better identify customers who require human attention;
- The level of automation of virtual agents will increase, as well-integrated feedback loops continually learn and improve responses to agent interactions;
- The market will continue to favor self-service solution providers specializing in specific industries and problem sets, which will allow highly specialized robots to achieve increasingly satisfying results;
- Self-service bots will be more efficient, but also more accessible to all organizations, and at ever lower costs. At the same time, they will also be able to handle more complex queries.
The fundamentals of a great customer experience will remain the same: success will require a combination of self-service, artificial intelligence, and responsive, technology-augmented human agents to balance customer satisfaction customer and cost control.
If you want to know more about this subject, we invite you to download our practical guide “How to set up a customer self-service”. Don’t hesitate to ask for a personalized demonstration of our self-service tools to understand how Enghouse Interactive can support you in implementing these best practices.