As the demands of the digital customer continue to increase, a poor service experience with insufficient advice or long waiting times will no longer be accepted by savvy customers who realise that they can always go elsewhere. So what’s the solution to achieving this customer service success? For many, intelligent customer service is the answer.
A look at history shows that customer service has continually changed over the years. In the past, the ‘intelligent’ part of customer service depended on the intelligence of the call centre agent. The best agents learned the quickest ways to solve customer problems, understood how to navigate systems, memorised the steps required to resolve common requests, and established best practices. The quality of customer service thus depended on the competence of the respective call centre employee.
In the next phase of intelligent customer service, thinking evolved into trying to understand customers and their needs. As a result, many companies tried to get a 360-degree view of their customers. And although this well-jointed effort was based on a solid idea, building a centralised database ultimately led to a flood of information. As a result, many organisations found that giving agents too much information can be as detrimental as giving them too little.
Around a decade ago, another challenge was added when customer service was extended beyond the traditional means of the telephone to new channels. With the introduction of these channels such as mobile apps, chatbots and social media, it became more difficult to ensure consistent interactions. The task for companies is to give customers the impression that they are talking to one single, identical ‘contact person’, even when they switch from the mobile app to the phone or from an agent with email communication to another agent in chat.
As time has progressed, these challenges become even more complex, as communication channels developed further and tools like self-service portals became prevalent. The only way to successfully meet these challenges is to enrich your customer service with intelligence. This means being able to offer a contextual, consistent experience for customers. For this, two points are particularly important: the acquisition of customer insights and the consistent quality across all channels.
The customer insights aspect means that a company really knows and understands its customer, including their contact history with the company, the context of their request and current mood. If a customer is already upset for some reason, organisations need to go to lengths to ensure that their frustration is not exacerbated, which means applying empathy. If, on the other hand, a customer is in a good or neutral mood, it may be a good time to make a cross-selling or up-selling offer.
The quality across all channels refers to the ability to always provide the right answer, regardless of the communication channel used. There must be no differences in the quality of the advice, the speed, or the solution.
The quick resolution of customer challenges and challenges always requires a number of decisions to achieve the right result. Companies need to be able to rely on data quality and availability. Given the amount of customer data generated across different channels and interactions, an artificial intelligence (AI) solution is needed that analyses the data in real time and recommends concrete
measures that can inform the next best available action.
Implementing an integrated solution for intelligent customer service brings decisive benefits to a company, as the example of UPC, one of the largest cable network operators in Switzerland, shows. According to Urs Reinhard, Chief Digital and Customer Officer, UPC, the company’s agents find all relevant customer information on the first screen of a modern customer service application. Without any clicks, they need only five seconds to understand the customer. As a result, UPC has reduced the average processing time of each customer by more than 30 seconds. The customer, for their part, gets a faster and better service.
An intelligent service is the key to meeting or even exceeding customer expectations. It helps companies create smooth customer experiences and find relevant solutions in near real-time, regardless of the communication channel, be it a self-service portal, a chatbot, or an agent-based channel. Last but not least, an optimised, intelligent customer service also leads to higher productivity of call centre agents.