The customer service industry is significantly changing. Only yesterday it was based on fully manual work, difficult to scale and evaluate. Today, we are at the dawn of the AI era - we still need a lot of manual work, but we have many tools to help with agents' performance and efficiency. The way we see it, the future is bright and fully automated. At the end of the day, there should be a gain for all the parties - Agents, End-users who contact the company, Company itself, and Managers.
- Yesterday (manual)
Customer service is an investment. But at the same time, it's also a cost. The cost you want to decrease as a company and investment you don't want to take as a customer.
Here are a couple of characteristics of our Customer Service Team today.
- They need to learn basically everything when they join the company, and they are often not fully fluent yet when it’s already time to work with customers.
- They ought to follow all the changes that are happening within the company.
- They might need a quality supervisor and a manager.
- They should align with the company's tone of voice, which may be challenging if they don’t understand the whole context.
- They must remember that they talk with the customers who pay their salaries (they sometimes forget because the job is frustrating).
- They should have the context of all previous discussions between the customer and the company - often including those from different teams and tools.
- The team grows with company growth, and economic optimization may be challenging.
- They must follow internal procedures (like tagging, marking, transferring, and supervising), which requires attention and supervision as it’s easy to forget about something.
- They need vacations, breaks and get sick, which makes keeping Customer Service operational logistically challenging.
- They should be available 24/7- whether at night or Christmas. It makes the job more difficult and tiring.
End-users are in a situation where they have elementary needs:
- They need to wait to have their problem solved and their questions answered ASAP.
- They shouldn't have to repeat or introduce themselves repeatedly, yet they often need to do it.
- They shouldn’t have to understand the company’s technical language; the answers they are getting from the company should be simplified. They are users, not company employees.
- They want to be treated personally, yet agents rarely have time to focus on one person only.
- Here is their current process of reporting anything. First, they need to be aware of the problem -> find time to report it -> explain it in my own words to the company -> wait for them to translate it into their feature language -> wait for a fix to happen. End-user has its own business to run and develop. No one pays him for customer service contacts with the company.
- Someone at the company should be their advocate - fight for them, and oversee the end-user journey across all the communication touchpoints.
Managers find themselves in a world where:
- They don’t have a pre-configured product immediately; they need to learn the stack from the ground up and then master it.
- They must constantly monitor the situation and always be ready to step in. They wait for the fire to start, so they work reactively.
- It’s hard to find under-performers and over-performers to either work with or reward them.
- It’s hard to understand the current state of affairs - is it good, bad, or decent?
- They are understaffed yet have no time for the people already on board. There is so much work to do that there’s no time for anything.
- They live in a world of Excel spreadsheets when they have simple questions to answer.
- They have no idea about the most frequently asked questions and how to address them faster. How to summarise them and extract further to address.
As a Business:
- I’m doing customer service and I understand its value, but it’s difficult to measure the actual profits and decide if the current resources are optimal - should I invest more, or am I already investing too much with a small profit?
- I don’t know if I’m talking with the right customers. Is the “catch-all” approach the best one? Targeting will require additional resources. Is it worth it? How should I know what exactly is the target?
- I wonder if I have suitable agents in place. Those agents represent my brand. Is that a high-quality representation? How to measure it without reading every single message sent?
- I don’t know if I’m getting the maximum out of the current product implementation. Is there anything I could do better in the setup? Do I automate enough? Do I use the full product potential and all available options most efficiently?
2. Today (assisted)
As an Agent:
- I'm handling 10x more customers. AI suggests to me the answers in the core parts of the conversations. I need to make sure they are correct before sending them.
- I'm working smart. Parts of the conversation are already fully automated - welcoming the customer, small talk, and saying goodbye to the customer.
- I do not have to tag a conversation. Only make sure the suggested tag is correct.
- I'm rather clicking through the scenario, barely needing to type anything.
- All messages are being constantly analyzed, and I get answer suggestions that will resonate best with my customer.
- I'm getting a full context of the customer with crucial information I need to be highlighted.
As the End-user:
- I don’t have to wait in any queue.
- Most of my queries are answered right away. The time to answer drops, but not just the first answer time, the time to solve the case drops significantly.
- If I talk with a real agent, I get a reply in seconds instead of minutes. Sometimes agent replies even before I send the message. The agent I speak with is a subject matter expert - a PRO agent.
- The agent knows who I am - I don’t need to give IDs, names, emails, or logins. They simply know.
- My case is explained simply. I don’t need to make an effort to understand.
As a Manager:
- In the beginning, I filled out a short brief and added a website address with materials I had already shared with customers, and that’s it. I know the product is being tailored to me based on that.
- I get proactive notifications about my team and the implementation. I can focus on the most crucial cases.
- I know that each day the product works better for me. It learns with every conversation taken.
- My team is getting close to the perfect one. The product itself suggests where to improve.
- Each day, week, and month I get a report of the current state of affairs with the information I need only. I can start digging deeper into those reports.
- I can finally focus on quality time with customers and my team.
- All my reporting needs are being addressed out of the box. I am starting to forget how to use Excel.
- Frequently asked questions are automatically answered by a Bot. The Bot learned how to answer them from the most accurate answers my agents gave in the past.
- I’m getting suggestions about new trends in frequently asked questions without the need of time-consuming analysis.
As the Business:
- I finally understand why it is worth doing customer service. I can see improving statistics and easily calculate relevant metrics. There are no doubts here.
- It finally scales up. I can have more customers without a bigger customer service team and raising costs.
- I cut my people's costs.
- My team talks with the right customers - they are being scored and routed correctly. Cases are being automatically resolved where possible.
- I’m sure the customer service team follows my tone of voice policy. They all speak the company language and I'm immediately notified if the tone changes.
3. Tomorrow (automated)
As an Agent:
- I'm no longer working as an agent. I’m a scenario trainer/AI supervisor, only helping the AI in the most complex cases.
- I'm overseeing 20x more chats than I used to handle.
- I’m working on data analysis and process improvement - I have many opportunities to grow and develop new skills.
- I’m taking care of a small group of customers personally - I can work on creating a real relationship and provide a truly personal experience.
As the End-user:
- I’m being proactively reached out with the info that my problem has been solved. Before I even report it.
- I get very accurate suggestions of the answers while I’m asking questions.
- Anytime I need to contact the company, I can go through any channel - it always works smoothly.
As a Manager:
- I work with just a couple of people. They are the most seasoned ones. We focus on extraordinary things when it comes to customer service.
- I get proactive suggestions regarding product implementation and configuration; I know that if something may be improved, I won’t overlook it.
As the Business:
- I can focus only on scaling the business. Customer service topic is being handled for me.
- I can get a quality output through the customer service process, which helps me grow my business.
- Customer service value is evident to me, and I don’t have to worry about the costs and the quality.
The future is bright and we are only just starting. We believe it’s a new chapter for Customer Service - more efficient, more accurate, full of opportunities and as seamless as possible. We believe perfection can be achieved.