The ongoing Coronavirus crisis has dramatically changed the way we work, at least in the short term. This pandemic is unprecedented in both its scale and its effect on the world. Most people alive today have never experienced a situation like this. Some of the greatest minds from all over the world are coming together to innovate treatments, develop vaccines, and find out more about this invisible enemy. However, with no previous pandemic of this scale to draw comparisons to, we have no blueprint for how long it will take to defeat the virus and “return to normal”. Normal in this context means going into the office every day to work. In the absence of such a blueprint, the best we can do is adapt our businesses to survive and thrive during this time.
It’s also very likely that the effects of this pandemic will be felt long after we defeat it. Businesses who were previously resistant to implementing large-scale home working will now be experiencing the benefits first-hand. This pandemic may change the way we work forever.
Automation and AI are also areas of innovative tech that some businesses have been slow to implement. The use cases have always been there, but some businesses are just slower to adapt to industry changes than others. This isn’t surprising. Businesses have to spend their money wisely to ensure they are getting a good ROI. When automation and AI seemed too new, it was natural for some businesses to hold back and see how it turned out for other businesses who made the jump. Well, it’s 2020, and the results are in. Automation and AI vastly improve efficiency, performance, and reduce operational expenditure (OPEX) within businesses. During this pandemic, automation and AI also have a crucial role to play. Let’s take a look at how automation and AI can help during a pandemic, and how you can stay on top of your customer experience (CX) game during this time.
Businesses will always get more customer service tickets during times of uncertainty. Many customers rely on your product or service and will want continued support throughout the pandemic. They may also want to buy more from your business but are worried about your business closing down, shipping delays, or supply chain issues. Additionally, customers are experiencing higher levels of stress and also have more free time. This means that while previously they might have thought “oh I need to contact customer service about X, I’ll do it another time”, they are now thinking “I should get this sorted right now while I have the chance”.
This storm of factors will naturally result in a higher volume of customer service calls and a boost in tickets. You can use automation and AI to make your ticket management more efficient, and even reduce the number of tickets you get. With omnichannel platforms supported by AI, tickets get routed through to the most appropriate agent. This means that tickets are much more quickly resolved than they would be otherwise.
There are currently fewer people in the workforce than normal. This is due to several factors. Some businesses experiencing financial hardship have been forced to furlough a significant portion of their staff. Others have had to let employees go in order to survive through the pandemic. This means lots of businesses are functioning at reduced capacity, even in their customer service function.
With automation, you can get more done with few agents. Chatbots significantly reduce the pressure on agents by diverting simple problems away from staff. Customers can get immediate answers to simple problems and get on with their day. They don’t need to wait on hold to get through to an agent. The number 1 predicted use case of chatbots is to “get a quick answer in an emergency”, and number 2 is “resolving a complaint or question”. 69% of customers also prefer chatbots due to the speed at which they can resolve their complaints.
Chatbots are crucial to supporting agents through this pandemic. Without chatbots, agents are taking on more work and more stress during an already stressful time. Customers are also more likely to become frustrated if they have to wait a long time to speak to an agent. Therefore, chatbots support businesses and customers.
There are many ways automation can be utilized to automate simple tasks and reduce the pressure on the customer service staff.
The goal here is to automate simple tasks so that more complex tasks can be handled by agents. During a pandemic, you can expect to get a lot of queries about your ongoing business operation. Things like:
“Will my order arrive on time? How long will it take? I heard mail is delayed”.
“Do I need to wipe down my package when I get it?”.
“Will the delivery be contactless? I don’t want to be close to the delivery driver because I want to maintain social distancing”.
“Am I safe to order? Or are you planning to close your business temporarily?”
“Can I cancel my subscription or put my payments on hold?”.
There is no reason for your agents to be answering these questions. Instead, you should automate these processes so that customers can self serve, and your agents can handle complex questions around technical issues, product failings, incompatibility, and so on.
Customers have more free time and are spending more time online. We’ve seen a spike in messaging during this pandemic, as consumers increasingly rely on technology to stay in touch with their loved ones. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, in particular, are experiencing a lot of activity right now. Providing support on these platforms via Chatbots or Live Agent support is a great way to be where your customers are and reduce their anxiety.
Your customers are experiencing anxiety, uncertainty, and financial and emotional hardships right now. People are paying attention to the businesses that help them, or are acting responsibly during this pandemic. You only have to browse social media to see people calling to boycott businesses that are treating their staff poorly, refusing refunds, providing terrible customer service, and so on. During times like these, it can be difficult to see the bigger picture and focus on anything but what’s coming tomorrow. It’s hard to prepare yourself for the future when you need to get there first. This is completely understandable, but it’s also incredibly risky.
The best thing you can do is adapt to the changing market conditions so you can better meet the needs of your staff and your customers. Automation and AI are the best way to do this.
It might be tempting to scale back your communication with customers and just let them come to you. However, human psychology is complex. If you go quiet on your social media or stop updating your website, customers might assume that you are closing down. This will greatly reduce confidence in your business. It will encourage customers to look elsewhere for similar products. It will also encourage anxious customers to contact your customer service team just to make sure everything is ok and they can still expect their delivery.
To avoid this, you should update your communication channels regularly. Keep your customers updated on the latest activities in your business. You can even schedule regular Tweets just to say “We’re operating as normal. Check out our products here”, or something similar. When a customer orders, always make sure they get an immediate receipt of their order in the form of a confirmation email. This way they know their product is on the way and they won’t try to contact an agent.
We’re in a serious and trying time, but that doesn’t mean you can’t inject some humor where appropriate. Of course, this will depend on your business and what you offer. For example, if you produce ventilators then humor would be inappropriate. Use your common sense. Everyone needs to be uplifted or experience some lightheartedness during stressful times. Your customers are probably watching the news regularly and getting their fair share of alarming and distressing news. Don’t add to this and try to be a voice for positivity if possible. A great way to do this is to share what your company is doing to help fight the virus or support your community.
If you don’t have a system of capturing complaints as well as the type of complaint, then now is the time. This is a fragile time for many businesses, so you can’t afford to not pay attention to your shortcomings. Are lots of customers ringing up with the same complaint? If so, then try to address this immediately and then inform your customers of the changes you have made.
If you see a spike in complaints about long waiting times for your contact center, then you know that something needs to change. Customers become increasingly frustrated and have a more negative customer experience the longer they wait. Since you can’t increase the number of agents you have, you must look at alternative avenues of meeting this demand. In 2020, that means getting robots to do the work.
We’re extremely excited to announce that we have changed our company name to CommBox. It’s still the same company with the same awesome people! just a new name, a fresh look, and a brighter future.Read full story