The most efficient and cost-effective way of handling more customer enquiries in less time is automating regular, high-volume enquiries via Chatbot technology. Capable of resolving up to 90% of web enquiries and 50% of telephony enquiries without the need for human intervention, Chatbots are one of the most powerful customer service tools available.
To ensure that your Chatbot is performing to its full potential, you’ll need to take several factors into consideration.
- Your Chatbot needs to have a well-defined role and be well-targeted. Chatbots are at their best when they’re built to resolve a certain type of enquiry or specific enquiries. If you give your Chatbot too broad a purview, it will likely struggle to provide comprehensive answers to customers, forcing the customer back on to the phone.
- Chatbots need to be clearly signposted and positioned prominently. They are a customer’s first port of call. If customers are trying other channels before the Chatbot, the system is not operating efficiently.
When it comes to your Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, there are a few things you can do to ensure that it’s helping to reduce the amount of time it takes to handle enquiries.
- Polish your script to make it as clear and easy to follow as possible. This helps avoid misroutes and abandons, both of which harm customer satisfaction and increase handling time.
- Look for a responsive IVR provider that can make quick changes to your IVR script and menu design. During some peak periods, you may find it useful to alter the IVR system to meet additional demand. For instance, as Annual Billing approaches, Local Government Revenue & Benefits departments might want to introduce an additional menu option for those customers looking for advice.
- Identify mis-routes and examine why customers are being put through to the wrong department or agent. It’s often a relatively quick fix and can lower average handling time considerably.
In many contact centres, data collection, processing and retrieval can really slow down an enquiry. Customers are easily frustrated by repeat requests for information and a considerable chunk of time at the start of every call is devoted to establishing who the customer is, what their problem is and what steps have already been taken.
Consequently, gathering relevant data before it’s actually required is an excellent way to reduce the amount of time it takes to process an enquiry. You can do so by:
- Using Chatbots to collect data from customers when they initially contact your organisation
- Using your IVR system to gather data from customers as they wait in a queue
- Adopting an omnichannel approach that allows data and customers to move freely between channels without hindrance
- Ensuring all data is fed into a centralised Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system, which all employees have easy access to.
No business is perfect across the board. Generally, they tend to excel in some areas and perform less well in others. Knowing your organisation’s strengths and weaknesses should help improve contact centre performance by allowing you to implement an effective channel shift strategy.
As with anything in life, it’s important that your organisation plays to its strengths. In the context of the contact centre, this means leveraging the power of your most effective channels and technologies. If your telephony system is world-class but your email system is average, you want to move customers away from email and get them picking up the phone. If you can automate a large number of telephony enquiries using a Chatbot, you want to encourage callers to go to your bot before they dial your number.
By making a concerted effort to shift customers from less efficient channels to more efficient channels, you increase the rate at which you’re able to resolve enquiries.
Though it may sound like ‘handling more enquiries in less time,’ is unarguably a good thing, some customer service experts would disagree.
The easiest way to process more enquiries in less time is to drop the quality of your customer service. A lower standard of customer service is quicker, easier and cheaper to provide. However, in a commercial environment in which 81% of marketers expect their business to compete solely on the basis of customer experience and 84% of customers feel experiences are as important as actual products and services, this is not a sensible business move (iperceptions).
Often, this ‘quickest means best’ attitude is driven by a focus on certain contact centre metrics. The real customer experience suffers because there’s too much pressure to reduce Average Handling Time (AHT) or improve other figures. However, handling more enquiries in less time is only a good thing if the standard of your customer service remains the same or improves.
That being said, there are instances in which you may want to move towards handling fewer enquiries over a designated period. One of the key benefits of automation is that it frees up human agents to devote more time and effort to complex and nuanced enquiries, as this is where your agents’ real value lies. Having automated routine enquiries, it’s possible that you’ll want to see your agents spending longer on each remaining enquiry, ensuring that the customer both feels well-cared for and truly benefits from the agent’s expertise.
The most effective way of increasing the number of enquiries you can handle over a set period is intelligent investment in customer service technology. Both IVR and Chatbots can be introduced into an organisation’s customer service system at respectable cost and have been shown to generate an impressive ROI. Importantly, they both improve the customer experience, as well as automating a significant percentage of enquiries.