Hybrid Customer Service: Creating a Great Experience for Customers and Agents

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Happy customer service agent delivering an answer using AI

The development of CRM (customer relationship management) platforms has transformed customer service in the digital age. Prior to the modern CRM, online customer service was a rather dreary, generic and often stilted experience. Customers found themselves caught in the quagmire of a disjointed communication system. And agents were at the mercy of stagnating and incomplete customer and case information.

CRM platforms unite information from different communication channels (email, website, phone, app), for a fluid experience and holistic view of the customer.  Artificial intelligence (AI) interprets the nuances of customer intent as well as routes or escalates conversations from those channels. Then when an exchange begins with the customer, the unified information is able to create a personalized customer conversation. While the use of AI might seem like the antithesis of human connection, the opposite is actually true. This technology creates an immersive experience enabling a brand, customer service agent, and consumer to feel empowered through personalized connection. This kind of technology not only provides countless opportunities for an enhanced customer experience, it can provide a comprehensive and versatile service department.

CRMs combined with the ongoing advances in AI have paved the way for the emergence of hybrid customer service.

The Methodology of the Hybrid Customer Service Model

Whether car, plant, technology, science or customer service model, a hybrid takes the best attributes of two separate entities and merges those qualities together for an optimized or blended experience of the originals. 

The concept and implementation of hybrid customer service began prior to 2020, but with the specific challenges presented over the last 18 months, this model is quickly moving from  supporting role to headliner. As companies strive to improve and accommodate unprecedented demands in the e-commerce space, many brands have begun to apply the hybrid model directly to their customer service centers.

Unifying human support with self-service technology creates a hybrid that is effectively cultivating a better work environment for CX team members while also exponentially improving the customer experience. Considering that 85% of employees report that they are not engaged or are actively disengaged at work, creating a workspace that supports and inspires the team member, and thereby the customer, generates a brand culture everyone wants to be a part of.

How the Hybrid Model Applies

AI-powered technology offers the ability to transform your customer service center into a thriving business asset. The main purpose of AI is to streamline, support, and enhance the human experience of day-to-day life. Additionally, AI offers the support and provides the space for the agent to offer focused, personalized service for more complex customer issues. 

Skilled automation, combined with the human touch, establishes a personalized rapport that customers are embracing. AI collects information from every customer touchpoint. So while the standard CRM powers a more unified, much-improved experience for both consumer and agent, it’s the AI that elevates that experience to the next level. A recently released Total Economic Impact (TEI) study by Forrester revealed just how significantly a unified, AI-powered omnichannel platform can impact the immediate and long-term financial health of a company.

Because AI technology can pull and assimilate data from multiple sources over the course of the entire customer brand journey, it transforms how your service center operates. Personalized interactions that include the nuances of the individual user make AI a powerful ally in providing highly personalized support in a digital world.

Creating workflow automation through AI has been shown to boost agent efficiency by 30%. When software can take on the burden of manual tasks, this frees up the employee to focus on the more human aspects of their job, resulting in deeper professional satisfaction, and happier customers. When you put AI to work for your brand, there are a multitude of ways this technology can empower the whole of your customer service center. They include but are not limited to:

·  Addressing Customers’ Frequent Questions

·  Enhancing Human Interaction

·  Anticipating Trends

·  Capturing Large Amounts of Data

·  Enhancing Customization Options

·  Messaging Customers Proactively

·  Identifying Root Problems

·  Measuring Customer Wait Times

·  Accelerating Response Times

·  Providing Proactive Agent Support

The Best of Both: The AI-Human Collaboration

A well-designed and integrated hybrid model bolsters customer loyalty and inspires new customers, thereby increasing brand equity and revenue. In fact, the global online-delivery platform, Glovo, found that implementing this kind of strategy has increased service level attainment by 20%

Agents and customers desire efficient, thorough, and personalized interactions. Utilizing AI tools like chatbots helps facilitate these kinds of sought after exchanges. In addition to communicating directly with the customer 24/7, a chatbot is capable of gathering critical account information as well as collecting details pertaining to a possible service problem. 

So, if for example, the chatbot isn’t able to answer questions or resolve issues directly, it will pass all relevant information to the human rep. Allowing the chatbot to do the talking for more standard, generic questions provides space for the human agent to effectively deal with more complex issues and truly deliver a higher level of service. According to Juniper, chatbots or virtual assistants are projected to save companies as much as $8 billion by 2022.

In their TEI study, Forrester discovered that this specific kind of collaboration resulted in a 50% increase in agent efficiency while also reducing crucial handle times by 50% in escalated cases. Employing a system where the human and the technology are working in tandem can revolutionize both support and the customer experience, imparting an impression that will set your brand apart. Creating a space where service goals are easily reached by the consumer and agent alike.

A Unified Future for Agents and Customers

The ongoing refinement of artificial intelligence technology allows for the nature of customer support to be that much more personal. Establishing a customer facing hybrid model allows customers to get low-level support requests solved instantly while also making agents more satisfied because they have the tools and time to take on a more meaningful role building relationships with the consumer. 

Designed for long-term brand health and success, hybrid customer service connects the consumer to your brand every touchpoint with ease. To learn more about optimizing the customer experience through AI and people, download the Keys to Delivering a Modern Customer Experience.

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