Ticket to ride — Transforming customer service with next-generation automation

August 30, 2018

This article is a guest post from Mikhail Naumov, President and Co-Founder at DigitalGenius, an AI platform that puts customer support on autopilot by understanding conversations, automating repetitive processes and delighting customers.

Automation in customer service operations is rapidly taking many forms, from multilingual customer communication to AI-powered chatbots and beyond. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020, only 15% of customer interactions will be handled by humans. These automations present customer service leaders with a range of innovative options about how best to optimize their customer support functions, and are evolving interactions with customers in some new & exciting ways.

The rise of conversational process automation

In a study conducted by eMarketer, when asked about the most important aspect of a good digital customer experience, 38% of users said it was getting their issue solved in a single interaction, while 26% said it was receiving a speedy and timely response.

One option that’s becoming particularly impactful in 2018 is the rise of Conversational Process Automation, which lets you do both. CPA, as it’s becoming known, is actually relatively simple on its surface, and it allows for end-to-end resolution of repetitive, common customer support tickets, even when there are multiple systems involved, without the need for agent supervision.

The customer sends an email with their query, such as requesting a refund, and then receives a single response back with not only a satisfying answer, but with a full resolution to their problem having already been completed in a payment or billing system, for example.

It’s pretty cool, and it works.

Understand your customers

Here’s why this matters right now, even more so than it once did. 82% of customers have left a company because of a bad customer service, and according to NewVoiceMedia, US businesses alone are losing $62 billion per year through poor customer service.

But understanding your customers is not as simple as it sounds. In fact, one of the biggest challenges for customer support teams has always been to discern what the customer wants to accomplish in a cost-effective manner. Now, as channels to contact reps and overall competition are increasing, so are customers’ expectations. Companies end up using lots of tools — such as phone trees and field-based web forms — to narrow the customer’s objective.

While this helps, customers aren’t always willing to play along.

Connect fragmented back-end systems

Another problem that adds further costs to customer support is that tickets often require information and actions from multiple systems to resolve them. This usually includes a minimum of their ticket management system and at least one back-end system to do things such as process refunds, enable cancellations or validate accounts. Agents are therefore forced to “swivel chair” from their ticket management system to another back-end system to resolve the case. This means tickets staying open longer, and costlier interactions.

The aim of Conversational Process Automation, on the other hand, is to discern customer objectives cost-effectively, while connecting information from disparate systems to achieve agent-free resolution of the most repetitive (but ultimately expensive) tickets.

Where agents truly spend their time

What’s interesting is that DigitalGenius customers tell us that only 30% of customer service interactions with their teams involve actual “conversations”. The bulk of the work really happens when agents use these conversations to drive processes that actually resolve their customers’ issues – the aforementioned repetitive issues such as refunds, upgrades, cancellations and new subscriptions.

Using CPA to connect conversations with these back-end customer service processes – processes that often involve the use of multiple systems –  in an intelligent way is one of the most important things that can be done in the modern customer service organization.

It’s also great for the agents themselves, too. This AI-driven process automation shifts the attention of agents away from repetitive, mundane work and allows them to focus on the complex issues that humans are really good at, and to increasingly turn their attention to proactive, rather than reactive, customer support.

As customers’ expectations continue to soar, and the number of inbound channels increases, it’s becoming clear that it’s no longer feasible to continue operating as customer support teams have in the past. I’m a big believer in the mantra that “Your customers won’t wait for your customer support function to catch up to their expectations”, because truth be told, if you don’t, someone else will.

Join the conversation

If you’re interested in hearing more about how CPA can help your business, or how you can use automation to provide a better customer experience, Edmund Ovington — VP of Global Alliances at Unbabel — and I — co-founder and President at DigitalGenius — are hosting a webinar on September the 5th, at 8.00 am pacific time.

Join us as we think about the future of customer service, look at next-generation automation and discuss how it can help your team do a better job.

For more information about DigitalGenius, check out their website.

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