Chatbots: The Key to Efficient Customer Service

When the idea of artificial intelligence for customer service was first introduced, many people were skeptical. The idea of chatbots assisting or possibly replacing human agents was exciting, but was it feasible? Would customers actually receive better service? While this technology continues to evolve, many industries—from banking to travel to retail—are indeed offering faster, richer experiences due to chatbot implementation. And customers are actively using AI support: According to BusinessInsider, 67% of consumers worldwide used chatbots for customer service in the past year. Here are five ways in which chatbots enable efficient customer service.

Chatbots can be integrated with popular messaging apps

Many companies have made the chatbot experience a seamless one by integrating the technology with messaging apps. Since many customers already use apps such as Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and WhatsApp for their personal communications, offering chatbot assistance through these apps allows them to enjoy convenient service on the go.

Simple chatbots enable self-service

Simple chatbots follow specific rules and are able to handle requests that follow those rules. For example, they may answer concrete questions such as the boarding time for a flight or the address of a store. In addition, they can send notifications to customers, such as flight changes or delivery updates. These chatbots are therefore excellent for enabling self-service and saving customers time.

AI-powered chatbots help agents offer better service

Many companies are also using more sophisticated chatbots that learn from their interactions with customers. These chatbots are capable of handling more complex cases, processing language to offer more detailed responses. For example, if a customer seeks information about a product return, an AI-powered chatbot may look up the date of purchase and ask questions such as why the customer wishes to return the product. In addition, these chatbots may begin service interactions that will eventually require agent support. They may collect information that informs the agent and expedites the process once the agent takes over.

Customers are routed to the appropriate agents

Chatbots help customers save time by routing them efficiently. When customers ask questions, chatbots are able to identify keywords and route customers to the most appropriate agents. For example, if a customer contacts his bank for support, a question about a recent check deposit may require a different agent than an order fora new checkbook. AI ensures that the customer wastes no time navigating long menus or waiting to be connected to the right person.

Text analytics can improve the customer experience

Lastly, artificial intelligence can help companies improve overall customer experiences by identifying problems in advance. By recognizing keywords that indicate customer issues, AI can propel brands to prevent difficulties before they occur. In addition, text analytics may reveal key information that can be used to personalize customer experiences. If a customer repeats a product name, for example, this data can be used to make targeted marketing offers in the future. Business Insider states that by 2020, over 80% of companies are expected to use some form of chatbots. When companies combine the power of artificial intelligence with the skills of their service agents, customers save time and enjoy richer overall experiences.

5 Customer Expectations Your Brand Needs to Meet

What do customers really want? As technology changes the way they interact with brands, expectations continue to change. Although many companies are embracing tools such as artificial intelligence to bring better experiences, customers are still seeking connections between people and ensuring that any technology they use can really benefit them. Here are five expectations that your brand needs to meet all customers.

Technology that simplifies the customer experience 

Customers are not afraid to use technology to find answers or complete tasks. According to a survey by Location World, 40% of adults now use virtual assistants, such as Siri or Alexa, once a day. These habits also extend to their interactions with companies. “Chatbot” magazine pointed out that 67% of people want to use messaging apps when interacting with brands. When implementing any technology, always ask if it can serve customers well. Your chatbot should be able to answer questions quickly or complete a purchase easily. The IVR menu should seamlessly route customers to qualified agents. Live chat invitations must be timely and provide assistance to customers when they need it most. Use technology to simplify the lives of customers.

The option to speak to an agent 

Self-service options are great for saving customers’ energy. However, sometimes customers just want to talk to humans. According to Glance, 67% of customers hang up when they are unable to contact a service representative. Therefore, your customers need to know that there will always be someone to help them. If you use chatbots to provide services, make sure that human agents work with them. When putting customers on hold, keep the waiting time as short as possible. Finally, make sure that the IVR menu directs the customer to the correct department, and if you encounter problems navigating the menu, always provide the option to talk directly with the agent.

Seamless interactions

The best omnichannel experience is seamless. When customers have trouble finding information or switching channels, your brand image will be damaged. Accenture pointed out that 89% of customers feel frustrated when they need to repeat information to multiple agents. Kampyle further pointed out that 87% of customers believe that brands need to provide a more consistent experience. Make sure that your brand provides high-quality content and accurate information on all channels, and make sure that your mobile website is also optimized.

A relationship built on trust 

Is your brand worthy of your customers’ trust? Nowadays, compliance with laws that protect customer data is critical. In addition to letting customers know when and how to use their data, some steps should be taken to enhance their capabilities. For example, always follow up the purchase and provide a detailed order confirmation summary. When communicating on public channels such as Twitter or Facebook, make sure that the agent does not share personal details and quickly transfer customers to private channels. Sending a consistent brand message is also important for building trust. If your company offers promotions on its website, other channels must also provide the same information. If your brand statement mentions a commitment to environmental protection practices, your product should reflect this principle. No matter which channel they use, customers must be able to determine your purpose and have confidence in your approach.

Personalized experiences

Customers seek a personalized experience that suits their tastes. Providing products and services to them according to their preferences is one way of doing this. Marketing materials should be tailored to their individual needs and should be communicated on their preferred channels. According to Salesforce, by 2020, 75% of customers want to shop with companies that provide a personalized experience.

Every customer relationship needs to be cultivated. Take the time to understand the needs of your customers and tailor your practices to meet their needs. When you listen carefully to their expectations and consistently provide quality services, you will earn their trust and win their long-term support.

Source: Vocalcom

5 Tips for Sales Agent Communications

The rise of omni-channel practices has undoubtedly put more pressure on brands to take advantage of every sales opportunity. With customers exposed to various channels such as social media, messaging, and phone calls, sales agents face the challenge of turning potential and existing customers into loyal followers, which does not sound so positive. However, in this era of conversational business, customers welcome the opportunity to have meaningful conversations, as long as it enables them to obtain the products and services they really want. Here are five tips for optimizing sales agent communication to increase brand growth and customer trust.

Build a relationship with the customer

Every successful brand knows that building relationships is the key to customer loyalty. Every conversation should start with an interaction with customer service; sales agents should introduce and conduct short conversations before meeting customer needs. This can build trust and make customers feel personal value. If he can trust the sales agent, then he is more likely to trust the brand’s products and services.

Follow the natural flow of a conversation

Asking too many questions may shut down the customer, but only by responding to the customer’s query can the agent appear passive and ignorant. Sales agents need to strike a balance between asking questions that clarify customer needs and publishing statements that reassure customers and motivate them to buy. For example, an agent of a telecommunications company might explain the benefits of telephone and Internet subscriptions, and then ask the customer whether his current provider (or current package with the company) meets his needs.

Sell product benefits, not features 

Remember, when a customer considers buying a product, he wants to know how the product or service will solve the problem and/or improve life. Will it cause inconvenience? Will it improve the products he already likes? Sales agents must always describe their advantages before product features and try to establish an emotional connection with customers. For example, a premium phone plan with a price lower than a competitor’s offer might sound attractive, but explaining to the customer that the customer can make unlimited calls and can access Internet data anytime and anywhere is likely to appeal to him. Sales agents can explain how customers call friends and family during the trip, thereby establishing the emotional advantage of the service.

Show your knowledge

Each sales agent must be trained to explain product functions. When a customer asks a question, the agent can never be sure of the answer. Agents who are familiar with the product will naturally have confidence and enthusiasm for the brand. Customers in turn feel this confidence and become more excited about the purchase.

Appease customer concerns

Sales agents should try their best to find solutions to customer concerns. For example, if a customer hesitates to switch phone providers because they think the upfront cost is too high, the sales agent must first determine whether the product offered can actually save the customer money. If this is not the case, the agent should find a way to meet customer needs, perhaps recommending more affordable products or waiving additional fees. When an agent handles each conversation in good faith and provides customers with the best solution to meet their specific needs, the agent is more likely to make a deal.

Interacting with customers is naturally an art, and service and sales representatives must be trained to improve their interpersonal skills. By listening to customers, providing solutions to problems, and sharing deep knowledge and enthusiasm for each product, agents can turn each sale into a long-term relationship between the brand and the customer.

Source: Vocalcom

6 Customer Survey Mistakes to Avoid

Customer surveys are a tried and tested method that can be used to obtain valuable feedback. However, the quality of the survey and its timing make all the difference. If customers feel inconvenient or unable to remember the details of the experience related to your brand, they are unlikely to provide you with the insights you need. Today, with so many customers using multiple digital channels, it is especially important to design the best surveys that can be effectively delivered on the customer’s preferred channel. In order to get the most meaningful feedback on brand improvement, please avoid the following six customer survey errors.

Lack of incentive for the customer

If customers don’t understand the direct benefits of conducting surveys, they won’t participate at all. Investigations take time, and skeptical customers may think their answers are irrelevant. Be sure to communicate how you intend to use their feedback and give examples of how past feedback has led to direct brand improvements. You can also consider offering some kind of reward after completing the survey, such as loyalty points or discounts.

Confusing content

If your question is not accurate, it will only frustrate the customer or give you incorrect answers. Make your question as specific as possible and make sure that the answer scale is easy to understand. It’s also important to remember that although common questions are easy to understand, they don’t provide the insights your brand needs. Consider dividing the survey into parts that clearly correspond to different steps in the customer journey. For example, in three different sections, you might ask whether the brand website is easy to navigate before making a purchase, whether the checkout process is seamless, and whether you receive an order confirmation promptly after the purchase

Lack of a free-response section

Many times, customers will provide other input, but the survey questions limit their answers. Therefore, it is crucial to provide a free-response section at the end to invite customers to elaborate on the points they consider most relevant. If a customer leaves a particularly important comment, your brand must follow up separately to ensure that the customer takes his opinion seriously. Customer reviews can provide valuable information, and your problem may not be solved.

Poor timing

In customer service, time is everything. This is why the questionnaire should be sent in time after the purchase before the customer forgets the details of the experience time and has no time to communicate. A few days after purchase is an ideal choice, enabling customers to reflect and provide an honest response without being too anxious. Sending surveys too frequently can also cause problems because customers shouldn’t be annoyed. Continuous requests for information may cause your customers to unsubscribe from newsletters or otherwise leave your brand.

Long surveys

No one wants to spend more time on investigations than they do, and some people don’t want to answer at all. This is why you need to be extra careful when designing a survey, as length can become a major issue. Keep your surveys concise and to the point, and make sure to format them in an easy-to-read way. Your customers will be more likely to respond.

Ignoring the customer’s preferred channel

If your brand always sends questionnaires on a single channel (e.g. email), you have made a big mistake. E-mail may be convenient for some people, but every customer has their own preferences. The best strategy is to send questionnaires through the channels that customers like. Customers prefer convenience, and receiving communications on the channels they already use makes interaction easier.

Survey Monkey estimates that it collects more than 2 million responses for the company every day, indicating that customers are indeed willing to interact further with the brand. However, as these consumers continue to be favored by the many brands they support, it is important to make your survey stand out so that customers really have the questions they are forced to answer. In order to provide the best customer experience, please learn about Contact Center Live, which is the leading active call center software solution and advanced omni-channel customer interaction platform.

Source: Vocalcom

5 Tips for Managing Customer Data

Customer data has been a sensitive issue for a long time. Given the latest reports in the news about improper handling of company data, it is no wonder that consumer confidence has been affected. A study by the Pew Research Center found that 64% of Americans have personally experienced a data breach, and almost half of Americans do not trust the federal government or social media sites to protect their data. With the latest promulgation of the GDPR, the European Union has put further pressure on companies to protect customers’ personal information and make the way that information is used more transparent. In addition to complying with the new privacy laws, here are five general tips your brand should follow when handling customer data.

Communicate your data privacy policy

Customers need to know exactly how to use their data. Using concise and clear language can build their trust in your company and can help you avoid any problems or sanctions in the future. In addition, it is important to make your customers aware of their privacy rights. For example, customer newsletters and marketing communications should refer to your data privacy policy.

Allow customers to opt-out

Whenever your brand uses data for marketing purposes, always give customers the right to opt-out. Even if your customers have given you permission to use their data, they need to feel capable of making decisions about data usage. For example, allow them to unsubscribe from email communications or request less frequent notifications.

Take measures to protect customer data

Your company can take many steps to protect customer data. Consider limiting data access to only employees who have direct customer contact. Another way to build customer confidence is to collect the minimum data the company needs. In this way, customers will not feel that you are asking for too much personal information, and your company will not feel overwhelmed by too much data that cannot be used effectively.

Provide secure experiences

Encryption technology is essential to protect sensitive information. Make sure to protect passwords, credit card numbers, and other important data, and make sure that customers know that you are using this type of technology. For example, when they make a purchase, please indicate that the process is safe and post an icon representing the technology you are using. In addition, please ensure that employees never exchange sensitive information on social media platforms. Whenever a customer needs to discuss a specific case or make a purchase, the conversation should be transferred to a private channel.

Use data to give customers better experiences

You may be collecting customer data to grow your business, but are you also improving the customer experience? Brand growth is only possible when it provides customers with what they really want. For example, use data to recommend more relevant products on your customers’ preferred channels, provide better service to all touch points, and provide a more seamless experience when customers browse your website. Compliance with data privacy laws can win the trust of customers, while using data to create a better experience can win loyalty. As your company navigates through the sometimes complex data management rules, remember that the ultimate goal is to use data to provide a safe and seamless experience that wins the trust of customers.

Source: Vocalcom

6 Tips for building a thriving help center

Customers want to help themselves. They are more tech-savvy than ever, and like to use DIY methods to solve problems and answer their own questions. In a recent survey, 67% of respondents said they prefer self-service rather than talking to representatives. As many as 91% said they will use the company’s online knowledge base to meet their customer service needs.

The goal of this article is simple: we want to help you build an all-in-one knowledge base, community, and customer portal. All of this can be done through the help center.

Why you need a Help Center right now!

  • Increase customer satisfaction by providing better service and meeting the needs of customers who prefer self-service
  • Reduce costs and increase efficiency by eliminating repetitive costs so agents can focus on more strategic tasks
  • Grow your business community and build deeper connections between your company and customers

1. Planning: Start with goals

Whether you are just thinking about starting a help center or just want to improve your own functions, the first and most important step is to define what you want to achieve. Is your goal to reduce the number of support tickets submitted to employees? Or is it just to build relationships and interactions between customers and employees? These are ideas to consider, but it is important to determine the goals that suit your business and strive to reach consensus among key stakeholders.

2. Measure for improvement

It’s important to measure the performance of your help center from day one. Track things like:

  • Community analytics stats
  • Resolution times
  • Percentage of issues resolved by staff vs. those solved via the Help Center

It will help you understand whether the help center is effective and what needs to be improved.

It is also very important to track the type of content that customers are using. Knowing this will help you identify content that requires more content, such as specific topics or answers to frequently asked questions.

3. Mobile is not an “option”

It is important to provide a seamless experience so that whether your customers access your help center through a laptop, tablet or mobile phone, your customers can get the same level of service.

As pointed out by Zendesk Benchmark, the rise of mobile consumers is obvious. Everyone has heard that with the rise of smartphones and tablets, consumers are turning to mobile devices. These trends are evident in consumer preferences for interacting with brands through forums and help centers.

4. Employee participation and moderation

Self-service does not mean building a site and not participating in it. Your employees should play an active role. It shows that you are listening and caring about customer behavior and feedback.

And by employees, we don’t just mean your customer service team, we mean everyone:

  • Marketing: understand how customers interact and help build this relationship. The help center is also a good way to find and familiarize yourself with customer promoters.
  • Product and support: help answer questions and reply to comments. These departments can learn from the community together and use it to speed up the feedback cycle. They can also use this opportunity to listen to customers’ ideas and gather feedback.
  • Sales: staying active in the help center can connect your sales (the first line of business) with customers. In addition, the help center provides you with excellent insights into the ongoing sales cycle.

5. Focus on the user experience

User experience is very important. You may be doing everything right when it comes to attracting people to your website, but if you don’t provide a great experience, they won’t stay for a long time and won’t come back.

Easy navigation of the most important things is very important. For example, search is an important function that customers are looking for. Make sure it is easy to find and use. Ask yourself: Can I provide and promote the most important products for customers? Can I organize all my content effectively?

It is also important to create something that is visually appealing-to provide customers with a place where they want to spend their time. Consider adding rich media options. Many customers are beginning to expect content such as videos, webinars and pictures as well as text. Find expertise in your network or design team to get best practices, and then test, test, test! Your help center is always in development, so please check which ones are valid and which ones are not, and adjust accordingly.

One of the best ways to seek customer feedback is to ask for it: did they find what they wanted? Do they have suggestions for improvement? A short survey can help you take great steps to create an engaging user experience.

6. Put on your marketing hat!

If no one uses the help center, what use will it do? Once the technology is selected, the goals are set, and the site is established, you need to attract users there. Through this step, it is important to get your marketing team involved, or at least to start thinking like a marketer. How will you invite and attract visitors? How will you promote the website and even certain aspects of the website? And, is there a way to use the community to help support other marketing programs?

Source: Zendesk

5 must-haves in B2C customer support

Comparing the differences in customer service between business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) means understanding the scope of each approach. Both methods are designed to adapt to a large and diverse customer base, but the behavior of these customers is what really sets them apart.

Especially for B2C, providing help for daily consumers is very different from positioning and customizing support for business-related needs. B2C companies need to invest in features that explain their consumer behavior; especially when they “when”, “how” and “why” buy your products and services. In order to avoid B2C businesses wanting to understand how frustrated (and huge) their customers can become, they need to proactively seek out how to best help them.

5 must-haves for B2C customer support

Table of contents

  1. Case management
  2. Self-service/Knowledge management
  3. Digital engagement channels
  4. Mobile support
  5. Integrations

1. Case management

The foundation of all effective customer service is case management: a system that can differentiate and optimize customer support based on cases.

For B2C, a case management system must be capable of:

  • Can accommodate a variety of tickets: Selling and selling products to everyday consumers means that customers will have different backgrounds, knowledge and familiarity with your products. This will be reflected in their admission ticket, which means that similar questions will be asked in different ways.
  • Including customer information database: easy access to customer information can establish rapport with customers. If returning customers encounter new or unresolved problems when they come back, it can also keep agents informed.
  • Provide consumer-oriented problem solutions: multiple contact points and simplified workflow can generate quick solutions for B2C support. Business-oriented case management is too complicated and time-consuming to effectively help consumers.
  • Workflow supporting various touch points and communication channels: Consumers will contact them through the most convenient channels: e-mail, SMS, social media, etc. Introducing it into an omnichannel solution ensures that every customer can hear it.
  • Assign, route and report cases according to client and complexity: You will need ticket management and internal routing to accommodate the growth of your team, unless you want to find a new system. Plan a system that is dynamic enough to scale according to the growth you want to achieve.

2. Self-service/Knowledge Management

Compared with B2B, consumer-oriented issues are generally more indiscriminate and lack professionalism. They usually lead to first contact resolution, and the level of technology is usually much lower.

But this does not mean that B2C support will be easier. If a worrying problem occurs, the ticket backlog may suddenly become overwhelmed, such as a large e-commerce site suddenly unable to process orders.

In order to reduce the number of tickets arriving at agents, B2C companies should help customers self-service through self-service. Here are some tools that can help reduce the number of tickets:

  • Custom-branded help portal: This is where customers can find the best way to help themselves. The portal provides a series of contact points (your help center, support address, social media channels, etc.). This is true for your brand and customer-facing identity. Companies with many products can benefit from portals with multiple unique brands. Zendesk calls it “multi-brand” and has been used by clients such as Aurora Fashions, Cotton On Group and Big Fish Games.
  • The help guide (often called the knowledge base) is a collection of articles that provide self-service educational information. This includes operating methods, step-by-step procedures, and other clear details about the product or service.
  • Community Forums: Do you want to provide a space to host customer conversations? Community forums are places where consumers can help each other without contacting support staff. In addition, they can highlight what is working, what is not working, and the difficulties that your product may encounter. This feedback is useful for optimizing self-service.

Problems solved through self-service are usually “how to”, such as password reset, changing account details and managing basic settings.

In addition, the structure of the help information is equally important. Your knowledge management must be centralized and formatted with an information architecture that makes sense to your consumers (that is, everyone). Understanding how customers seek self-service may involve some user experience (UX) research and testing.

3. Digital engagement channels

The customer experience is intertwined through various engagement channels. For customer service, this includes the support you provide via phone, email, and interactions via social media.

B2C support is designed to reach a wider audience, while still being able to personalize settings for unusual queries. The participation channels that B2C companies should focus on are:

  • Live chat: Interaction or discussion by an agent is one of the fastest and most effective ways to solve consumer problems. Chat sessions can be at the core of the problem by providing free interaction (such as collaborative browsing, screen sharing, or helping you complete forms).
  • Email management with automated answers: Email support is still the most common form of customer service, but when it comes to consumer needs, the fastest email support will use autoresponder. This allows B2C companies to provide immediate response and maintain a competitive advantage when investing in other communication channels.
  • Virtual customer assistants: Virtual Customer Assistant (VCA) simulates human conversations to deliver information or execute transactions on behalf of customers. Many of them are supported by AI algorithms such as machine learning and deep learning, making them more and more capable of helping many customers. For example, Dollar Shave Club uses Answer Bot, our own AI-driven VCA, designed for ticket deflection.

4. Mobile support

B2C businesses not only require mobile support it is essential for long-term success. The lack of a mobile experience may cause customers to be unwilling to solve their problems, which is related to 90% of consumers who report a poor customer experience when seeking mobile support.

Extra care must be taken to ensure that the support strategy is translated into a mobile experience. For B2C, this can be achieved by investing in mobile engagement channels such as SMS or Facebook Messenger. If your business provides a mobile application, it may be worthwhile to embed customer support into the application (to prevent customers from switching from mobile devices to PC browsers) like Le Tote did.

B2C mobile support is more widespread in industries where customer expectations are high (such as hospitality, air travel, banking, and telecommunications), but as consumers become more aware of smartphones and tablets, all B2C companies are increasing The more B2C mobile support is needed.

5. Integrations

Your case management system may not be immediately suitable for your organization. Fortunately, integrations can fill the gap.

The right system will provide integration that simplifies the B2C workflow and enhances customer engagement. For B2C organizations, this is usually related to better self-service and mobile support. Both Rovio and Swiftkey are done by using Zendesk’s Mobile SDK.

Integrations are usually tailored to meet the needs of specific industries, such as the Shopify app, which displays customer and order details in the e-commerce company’s ticket. However, there are many integrations that have nothing to do with the industry to help you time-tracking, analytical insights, and even employee training.

The most powerful solutions include APIs for various third-party integrations, or, if the company feels bold enough, it can use internally created integrations to address the company’s specific B2C needs. The game studio Riot Games is a good example: they created their own AI-based virtual customer assistant that can quickly answer customer queries.

Source: Zendesk