Tips on how Conversational Service can provide relief to contact centers in challenging times

By Umesh Sachdev, co-founder and CEO, Uniphore | Thursday, 28 May 2020, 12:09 IST

As people and organizations grapple with the pandemic OF covid-19, the world of customer support is experiencing unprecedented challenges. Today, families require important information on healthcare, and employees who are now forced to work from home, need remote tech support to stay connected. Brands that positioned themselves as dependable and quick to respond, find themselves floundering as their contact centers cannot cope with the huge surge of incoming calls.

In the times of government- mandated shutdowns, enterprises need to safeguard their employee’s health and simultaneously address their customers’ requirements adequately.

Companies need to be empathetic - listening and understanding the customer and going the extra mile to assure them that their needs are being met. Customers need to be heard and to know that their concerns are being noted and acted upon. Choosing rudimentary technology, in the hope that it will address a larger mass of customers will not suffice. The differentiator in today’s world will lie in a company’s ability to deliver personalized experiences, despite the difficult circumstances.  

Conversational Service Automation

Customers reach out to enterprises via a variety of digital platforms such as mails, chats, instant messages and of course voice. In order to deal with the ever-increasing numbers of interactions, an emerging technology known as Conversational Service Automation (CSA) has been developed. CSA has the potential to automate a big segment of the customer service journey. It can help at multiple touch points right from addressing basic queries autonomously (helping customers with self-service), to prioritizing and directing important queries to human agents, all the way through to reading the mood and the sentiment of the caller and therefore the true intent of the caller, in real time.

These new technologies are possible through the use of AI, Speech Recognition, NLP, Machine Learning and Automation and they have the ability to greatly enhance the enterprise customer experience. They can help organizations process more calls while maintaining a personal and meaningful relationship with their customers – an invaluable capability in these difficult times.

Here are five tips organizations can implement in their contact centers to help get people the information they need, when they need it:

  1. Set-up an  helpline

As part of a focused task force, create a dedicated helpline for citizens to avail assistance is the first and foremost thing an organization can do. The helpline will cater to problems faced by people during the lockdown. The customer support will be able to prioritize and filter calls that are or are not associated with the pandemic. Such steps enable a company to be focused in addressing their customers’ concerns and making them feel valued and heard.

  1. Really get to know your customer

The need to understand how the customer feels and what he/she expects is the key to crafting an excellent customer experience. Industry experts are predicting that 2020 will be the year when customer experience (CX) will overtake product and price, as the main way companies can differentiate themselves from the competition.  Organizations must address some common contact center issues. For example, waiting while placed on hold for customer support is frustrating for any customer. Organisations can give customers an alternative to resolve their issue themselves, with an intelligent self-service flow option. 

Furthermore, sentiment or intent analysis and advanced features, like tracking the customer sentiment throughout a call in real-time, can be a goldmine to judge what is working and what isn’t. Organizations can then route or escalate distressed calls and bring quick resolutions as well as prioritize callers.

  1. Facilitate remote work for agents

Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of the workforce, is a top concern for every organization. Enabling customer care staff to work remotely enables a business to continue to offer support, without breaks in service. This is not an easy transition and can be a difficult for some businesses, but those that have already set up these options are witnessing the benefits in terms of business continuity and growth.

A wholistic view of a transformation as major as this is required, in order to ensure that an enterprises short term and long-term goals are met. The focus should also include things like monitoring agent performance/quality and compliance with the necessary government regulations and adhering to security protocols.

  1. Support multilingual enquiries

India is home to several languages and dialects. It is important that companies are able to communicate with their customers in their native language. In such a global crisis such as COVID-19, organizations cannot afford translation errors and neither can they afford to further stress any customers who are attempting to communicate in a language that is not their mother tongue. Being sensitive to a customer’s linguistic needs is a core part of communicating with them in a time of anxiety. Capturing sentiment in multiple languages is the key for success for any organization.

  1. Deliver personalized and proactive customer engagements

During such critical times, personalization in the contact center is going to extend beyond simple tailored offers, products and services to the customer. Instead, organizations need to provide services that draw on contextual behaviour. Organizations can provide callers with automated reminders of events or actions they are supposed to take. A regular follow up and check on future needs should be made.  Such steps not only ensure positive customer experience but also build brand loyalty and advocacy.

While our current environment requires people to maintain social distancing, it is important for businesses to keep in close contact with their employees, customers, partners and industry experts. Organizations should embark on digital CX initiatives in an effort to improve their experience, build loyalty and demonstrate to their customers that they are valued.

Listening to customers and ensuring that they are being listened to, will help ease anxieties and aid everyone to access the information and service they need in order to get through this crisis.

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