CX Stories From the Frontlines: Dynamic Routing for Urgent Issues

CX Stories From the Frontlines: Dynamic Routing for Urgent Issues TW

It’s that time again: we’re here with some fresh CX stories from the frontlines. In case you missed them, check out the first and second issues on the blog, recounting real life anecdotes on how businesses have solved their customer service challenges with the help of Kustomer.

In this month’s edition, we discuss how a business was able to easily style their auto response e-mails, how integrating data powers a better agent experience, and the power of intelligent routing to get urgent issues solved more quickly.

Stepping Up Messaging — No Dev Work Needed

A cryptocurrency app, available in over 40 countries, needed to step up their autoresponse game. Plain text e-mails just weren’t cutting it, and they needed to figure out how to include richer formatting to align with their brand. Without endless resources on their side, they worked with Kustomer to implement Markdown: a lightweight language that can be used to add formatting to plain text documents without the overhead of HTML. It’s fast, easy to learn, well supported across platforms, and translates flawlessly to HTML. Through this solution the company was able to transform dull blocks of text into more organized and eye-catching emails and messages for their customers and agents — all without any dev work or a single HTML tag.

Integrating for a Better Agent Experience and Automated Outreach

A small warranty company had to integrate with a few older systems that had very complex data models, in order to have an actionable and complete view of the customer. The typical lifecycle of a customer looks something like this:

  1. A customer purchases an item and registers their warranty.
  2. The warranty system pushes the warranty information to Kustomer.
  3. A Kustomer workflow creates the warranty custom object and maps some crucial customer information to the profile.

Now, let’s say that same customer needs to contact support because their ice maker is leaking water:

  1. The support agent will troubleshoot, and if they determine that this is a warranty claim, they fill out some information in a Kustomer context card.
  2. This opens the claim/dispatch system, with a TON of pre-populated information pulled directly from Kustomer.
  3. The agent fills out the remainder (just a few fields) and that opens the claim.
  4. The claims system then sends information back to Kustomer about the claim. After the initial opening of the claim, this is just basic information like the claim number and date it was opened.
  5. As the customer’s unit is scheduled for service / they are shipped a box for a warranty return, the claim/dispatch system will send updates to Kustomer, and the workflow system will update the claim custom object.

If the customer ever calls in asking about the status of their claim, the agent does not have to go into another system, they can simply pull up the claim in the customer’s timeline.

The warranty company also wanted to send automated status e-mails to the client when that claim status changed: say that the backordered part was now in stock, or their unit had been received and a replacement is on the way. Instead of having an agent send these e-mails manually, a workflow was built to automatically do so.

Additionally, the Kustomer team built a context card that indexes all of the previous status emails, and allows agents to resend any selected e-mail. This will trigger a new copy of the e-mail to be sent, but contain all of the original email’s body and subject lines.

Dynamic Routing to Service Guests Quickly

A short term rental company did a ton of manual routing in their previous system, and wanted a more automated and dynamic option. The business was ingesting reservation information and storing the check-in and check-out dates on the customer’s profile. Kustomer set up queue rules that look at the check-in and check-out dates, to route a conversation to the “In Stay” queue, if a guest is in the middle of their stay, or the “Booked Guest” queue if they already have a booking. The guests in these queues receive faster service related to their booking as a result. If the individual does not yet have a booking, the inbound conversation is routed to the main inquiries team, which accounts for the largest volume of service. These routing rules have vastly helped their team cut down on manual work to get the guest to the right team, and has allowed them to increase their efficiency and satisfaction by routing customers who are in the middle of their stay to teams who are set up to service guests quickly.

We want to hear from you! Let us know if you’re tackling CX problems in an interesting way and we will feature you in the next CX Stories From the Frontlines.

 

Your Help Center Software Could Use a Facelift. Here’s How.

Two people discuss selecting a new help center software while working on a computer. Modern help center software aims to streamline customer service professional workflows.

Growth creates growing pains. And often, high-growth brands struggle to scale their contact centers while also managing an influx of shopper queries, such as returns or locating an item. Balancing these forces — scale and volume — often starts with reviewing your help center software and removing manual, time-consuming tasks, including sifting through queues, escalating issues and processing transactions.

What Is Help Center Software?

Simply put, help center or support software enables conversations between customer service professionals and shoppers, who submit support inquiries. The software fields, stores and organizes these queries and displays them to the agent. Within this interface, staff have access to a variety of customer communications and data, allowing them to make more informed decisions. Perhaps most importantly, help center software powered by AI and machine learning can automate agent work and process inquiries without agent intervention, freeing up agent time to tackle more complex requests.

As DTC markets grow — and with them, consumer expectations and inquiry volume — technology must keep up. Modern help center software eliminates low level tasks and deflects repetitive questions, empowering customer service professionals to be more focused and reducing per-contact costs. What makes great software? Read more below.

Why Focus on Help Center Software?

Few business facets are more important than customer service. Speaking about 2021 customer service trends, Allegra Ubbes, a senior advisory specialist at Gartner, summarized the market this way:

“Customer service and support leaders face increased pressure from leadership on the role of the service function in improving operational excellence and growing the business. Given this environment, it’s unsurprising that customer service and support leaders’ top 2020 priorities are rooted in customer experience (CX), managing talent and data.”

Adding to their analysis, Gartner surveyed service executives about their priorities. Topping their lists: digital channels and functions. “Customer service leaders feel a distinct pressure to meet customers’ expectations for digital service channels and keep pace with competitors’ service offerings,” analysts write. “As a result, service leaders spend a disproportionate amount of time adding or integrating channels.”

However, research finds this creates a “costlier, more complex network of channels to manage without improving the customer experience and insufficient reduction in live volume.” Put another way: not every help center software – and the channels they facilitate – can power the sleek shopping experience that buyers want. On the contrary, that software may damage customer relations and the company’s bottom line.

Make Friends With Customer Experience (CX)

Simply sidestepping help center software all together isn’t going to solve this issue. Indicators suggest brands can anticipate a sustained surge of digital customer queries. And the National Retail Federation (NRF) found there’s a good chance 2020-based forces have permanently altered the CX industry. As such, brands should take notice.

Training their sights on the November-December holiday season, NRF found retail sales rose to $789.4 billion, an 8.3% increase over 2019. Online and other sales outside of traditional brick-and-mortar stores grew 23.9% over the previous year as well.

Greater sales activity creates a cascade effect on business operations: starting with increased urgency placed on customer service professionals and their tools, such as help desk software. How great a spike in activity? Just under 70% of respondents said they fielded more customer queries in 2020 when compared to the previous holiday season.

And there’s a price tag attached to excellent CX. Researchers found an overwhelming 86% of buyers said they’d pay more for a product when that shopping experience comes with superior customer service. When there’s demand for — and more money to be made — with great customer service, avoiding help center software isn’t an option.

Help Center Software of Your Dreams

Alright, so those are the stakes. But what factors should a customer service professional weigh when evaluating different help center software? Look no further than software that leverages the latest technology to make agents more efficient and effective.

Additionally, there are five pillars of every modern support software:

Holistic Customer View. See the whole picture. Often answers are found by combining information from different sources. Opt for a software that uses a holistic customer view, and displays every item of internal and external data into one actionable interface.

Powerful Automation. Give your agents more bandwidth to focus their energy on pressing tasks with AI and machine learning, which completes small, easy tasks that don’t require a human touch.

True Omnichannel. Endlessly toggling between engagement channels burns valuable time and energy, which could be spent delving into customer queries. Choose a help center software with omnichannel features that empower agents to switch between channels without ever leaving the conversation.

Sentiment Fluency. Customer service can be a huge source of data. Let AI do the hard work. Software with sentiment fluency interprets shoppers’ feelings and turns them into actionable insights.

Customization. It’s a bad idea to add tools that aren’t a good fit for your operation. Cumbersome solutions burn resources, and can ultimately harm a customer’s shopping experience. Choose a software that seamlessly integrates with your existing operation.

Help Center Software Solutions

Want to see these fives pillars in action? Check out Kustomer’s customer service CRM platform for managing high support volume. When there’s a surge of customer queries, not just any help center software will do. Delve deeper into this topic, and discover how artificial intelligence can reduce time spent on minor tasks and create a more enjoyable shopping experience for customers.

 

Video: How to Deliver Stellar CX Remotely

Woman engages with customer service queries at home on laptop.

Have you and your teams struggled with the transition to remote customer service, and want more control on how you’re delivering a stellar experience to your customers? The Kustomer Platform bridges the gap between addressing accountability problems (are my agents really working?), giving you a seamless way to track important data points about your customer.

What is Remote Customer Service?

With an uptick in people working from home and being online more than ever before, consumers need and expect customer support 24/7. Your remote customer service agents should do everything an in-house CS rep can do: take calls, process high-level customer questions, and be attentive to your customer’s unique needs. The good news is, your brand can offer a completely remote customer service experience and you don’t need to rent costly office space to deliver an exceptional experience.


Here Are 4 Simple Ways To Deliver Stellar Remote Customer Service:


1. Easy Access

  • All you need is an internet browser and standard wifi, and you’re good to go!

2. Seamless Collaboration

  • Through easy integrations, you can loop in cross functional teams and use tools like Notes, @mentions, followers, and more.

3. Easy Oversight

  • Remotely manage your CX tool with confidence.
  • Quickly get a bird’s eye view of customer service agent availability & capacity.
  • Jump into active conversations and manage queue assignments easily.

4. Stay Efficient & Effective

  • Finally! You can leverage a true omnichannel CRM to create a detailed picture of every customer and help them stay engaged on any platform.
  • Easy automation of repetitive tasks.
  • Access all the data you need in just one place!

Want To See What Effortless Remote Customer Service Looks Like?

You can request a 15-minute live intro call with one of our representatives here, or you can see the Kustomer platform in action by getting a behind-the-scenes look here.

 

Get to Know These Common Customer Service Problems and Solutions

Benchmarks: What We’re Seeing For Average Handle Time and First Resolution Time in Q2 & Q3 2020 TW

As the direct-to-customer market grows, many brands continue to adopt traditional approaches to customer service and stumble over the same obstacles again and again. How should customer service professionals rethink client care? And where should brands even begin this process? Let’s unpack some common customer service problems and solutions.

Below, we outline common obstacles, such as adapting to new customer preferences and gauging success, and cover modern solutions.

Customer Service Basics: What’s the Problem?

Despite popular wisdom, a majority of buyers do not want to speak to a support agent. That’s according to a survey by market research company Forrester. Analysts found most customers simply want accurate, relevant and complete answers to their queries. Why does this matter?

Returning to the study, more than 50% of U.S. adults said they’re likely to abandon their online purchase if they can’t find a quick answer to their question.

Speaking to only those one-in-two shoppers for whom speed is a factor, whether or not a brand closes a sale depends on how quickly customers can locate answers related to a product.

Delving deeper into this topic, 70% of adults said valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good online customer service.

Customers are increasingly using self-service and agent-assisted digital communication channels for customer service, which apply less friction to the shopping experience, Forrester researchers write.

Examples of these channels include:

  • Web or mobile self-service.
  • Online forums or communities.
  • Live chat.

Of course, now’s not the time to unplug and retire the landlines. What this report points to is a more nuanced, tech-forward approach to our customer service problems and solutions — an approach that is more vital now than ever.

How Did COVID-19 Shift Customer Service

COVID-19. Social distancing. Virtual connections. With an eye on the upcoming year, Forrester suggests customer service centers will adapt to a shifting market, one shaped by the pandemic. There’s a “need for a more empathetic service experience,” analysts write. Additionally, customer service will become a lifeline for an estimated 33 million consumers.

“With U.S. unemployment peaking in April [2020],” they write, “millions of individuals found themselves struggling to pay for food, bills, and other necessities.” They suggest responsible organizations provide high-quality, emotionally sensitive customer support in a form that meets customers’ needs.

Concurring with the above trend, Forrester predicts a sharp, 40% spike in virtual customer support cases, placing greater scrutiny on brands and greater urgency on their support agents to meet shoppers’ preferences: namely a demand for self-service and agent-assisted digital communication channels.

Finally, Forrester projects the creation of hybrid store/contact center roles. While brick-and-mortar stores have been hurt by the pandemic and subsequent social distancing guidelines, they haven’t been erased. Assuming a hybrid posture towards customer service problems and solutions creates the greatest opportunity for brands to meet shoppers’ needs.

Tackling Customer Service Problems and Solutions

As we covered in a previous blog post, customer service agents who aim to improve their care face a unique challenge. So often, the starting points for new solutions are major issues that may be intangible and tricky to define, such as:

  • Inefficiency.
  • Feeling ineffective.
  • Immediate need to deflect conversations.

Equally challenging is gauging the benefits of your customer service. Of course, a five-star review on a public forum is a clear sign. Generally speaking, these kinds of signals can be few and far between, creating gaps of time without concrete feedback to indicate how well a service center is performing. Where should you look to get a sense of how your service is affecting consumers?

First, look within. Everyone benefits from excellent customer service, not just shoppers. When buyers are happy, that can radiate to an entire organization, boosting morale and — potentially — translating to sales. And in that way, a company’s bottom line becomes a clear, tangible gauge of customer service efforts.

And second, check your workloads. Customer service takes time to perform, especially when done well. As such, professionals may find themselves overburdened when fielding a large volume of easy to answer conversations, and unable to attend to more serious cases. Often, giving agents the freedom to deflect avoidable queries is a matter of implementing tech solutions, such as self-service and agent-assisted digital communication channels.

Customer Service Solutions

Here are just a few options that are available to customer service professionals:

  • Providing shoppers with resources, such an easily accessible FAQ section.
  • Installing an AI chatbot.
  • Implementing a proactive outreach strategy, allowing agents to address customer concerns before they arise.

Learning how to tackle customer service problems and solutions doesn’t have to stop with this blog post. Trust Kustomer as a source of invaluable tactics for honing your custom service center strategy. Learn more.
 

Scaling Customer Service as your Business Grows

Scaling Customer Service as your Business Grows TW

There’s nothing quite as exciting as growing — and scaling — your business. Along with the excitement comes an all-important need to stay focused on scaling your customer service offerings to meet the needs and expectations of your ever-growing customer base. As your business grows, it’s essential to prioritize providing the best possible service that aligns with your organization’s core competencies, without breaking the bank.

Utilizing a CX CRM platform, such as Kustomer, allows you to focus on three key areas: communication, automation and documentation. By prioritizing these three tenets, you’ll be able to successfully scale your customer service offerings as your business continues to grow.

Communicate

As with any organization that prioritizes the customer above all else, accurate and instant communication is essential to ensuring that you’re able to provide an exceptional customer experience. A true omnichannel CRM aggregates all channels into one single view, so customers are able to communicate seamlessly on their preferred platform, and agents have all the information they need to provide a personalized experience. With access to a knowledge base, agents have up-to-date information at their fingertips to ensure they’re providing accurate answers to customers’ concerns.

Automate

Automation can be leveraged in many ways in intelligent platforms like Kustomer. Businesses are able to tap into the power of queues and routing to automatically route specific conversations to the most appropriate agent. Utilizing business rules ensures proper actions are taken on conversations automatically, and when combined with documentation, CX organizations can ensure that all conversations are properly tagged and ready for a thorough review at a later time.

With AI, businesses now have the opportunity to provide more self-service opportunities. Think about chatbots. They are growing in popularity with both businesses and consumers, and can be used to collect initial information, and solve low level inquiries like business hours, policy questions and “where is my order” (WISMO) inquiries. While there is always fear of losing personalization when using AI and automation, with the right data, businesses can actually do the opposite. For instance, if a business leverages customer data properly, chatbots could ask personalized questions based on an individual’s purchase or browsing history. These interventions save time for both the customer and agent, and increase the time spent on the actual issue rather than information gathering and low-level support.

Document

Documentation is performed in a few ways within CRM platforms like Kustomer. First, you are automatically documenting your correspondence with your customers. This allows you to see past engagements and find areas where your team can improve while you scale. A solid QA program of past conversations is imperative for any organization scaling their customer service organization. Second, this documentation allows you to search across your interactions to find trends. Are you answering the same question(s)? If so, you can uncover those insights through reporting functionality, and then you can update your knowledge base to get that answer into your customer’s hands quicker, or adopt chatbots to automate those conversations. Lastly, utilizing pre-built messages for common inquiries allows agents to engage with customers quickly, accurately, consistently and efficiently.

Scaling a customer service organization doesn’t need to be a scary task. Business growth means you are succeeding, but you must remain focused on delivering the customer service experience that your customers expect. Prioritizing communication, automation, and documentation will allow you to succeed in this endeavor.

Want to learn more about how to scale your CX org? Download our definitive guide to scaling your customer service, without losing the human touch.

 

Kustomer’s Look Back at 2020

Kustomer’s Look Back at 2020 TW

I would say that 2020 has been unprecedented, but let’s face it — we all want to permanently retire that word. From both a personal and professional perspective, it is undeniable that the past year has brought immense challenges, and you wouldn’t be alone to wish it was all just a fever dream.

While we are literally counting down the seconds until the clock strikes midnight on January 1st, 2021, it goes without saying that there are some permanent lessons that can be learned from the hurdles we faced in 2020. It was a year of success for Kustomer, with immense product developments, award wins and acquisitions, but customer service was also more important than ever before.

Without further ado, here is Kustomer’s look back at 2020.

Lessons From a Challenging Year

Many organizations are struggling to understand when they’ll go back to “business as usual”. And the fact of the matter is, they likely never will. The new way of working that 2020 forced upon CX teams will have lingering effects, and consumers are now used to doing business in a whole new way.

Changing Consumer Attitudes Means More Digital Commerce

While it is inevitable that commerce will partially shift back to brick and mortar once things go back to “normal”, there is now a massive new pool of consumers that are comfortable shopping online, and you can expect this increased volume of e-commerce and digital inquiries to continue. Consumers that perhaps would walk into a store to ask a question, or call a customer service number for assistance, now may find it more convenient to click on a chat widget while they browse your site online, or reach out to you on social after seeing your ads.

In fact, according to recent consumer research conducted by Kustomer, live chat continues to grow in popularity with consumers, now ranking as the second most popular channel to get customer service problems solved. Consumers are also more open to self-service options, with 53% of consumers preferring to self-serve versus speaking with a company representative. The same percentage of consumers also think that chatbots improve the customer experience, with that cohort growing to 62% among consumers aged 18-24. It’s therefore important to consider new, digital-first service options for 2021 and beyond.

Speed and Efficiency Beat All

Many CX teams were forced to do more with less during the global pandemic. An unfortunate result of forced closures meant that the economy shot into a depression, and organizations needed to be scrappier than ever. Kustomer research revealed that 63% of CX organizations needed to cut costs during the global pandemic, and 46% reported a need to reduce staff. At the same time, the volume of customer inquiries was rising (by 17% on average), and 57% reported needing to deal with more complex problems than usual. Sixty-four percent of respondents reported an urgency for more efficiency, and 59% reported the need to adopt more automation to achieve efficiency.

While it is true that some organizations have seen digital inquiries somewhat normalize after a spike earlier in the year, the pandemic has revealed significant gaps in CX strategies. What seemed like a nonurgent need—adopting new technology to increase efficiency—is now staring CX organizations directly in the face and preventing them from being successful. Whether it’s a similar unthinkable event that shakes the economy to its core, or simply a busy holiday shopping season overwhelming agents, organizations must be prepared to scale efficiently, at lightning speed.

Customers Are People Too

As AI and automation take on more of the busy work in the CX space, and more consumers shift to online vs. in-store shopping, customer service agents will take on a much more important — and challenging — role. They will become the face of the company, reflecting it’s values and building lifelong relationships. Think of all of the DTC disruptor brands with cult-like followings— yes they have chic branding, but they’ve also built a community of advocates based on how they treat (and value) their customer base. We could all take a page out of their book.

To personalize a customer’s experience, you have to know the customer—and that requires data. A platform that brings all the data about a customer into one place helps customer service agents understand the context of a customer’s conversations and enables them to deliver more efficient, proactive and relevant service. There’s no need to waste the customer’s or agent’s time by asking for repeat information. Instead, that information is available at the click of a button, allowing the agent to personalize the customer’s experience by giving fine-tuned advice, addressing problems proactively, and suggesting other products or services the customer might enjoy. The result? An efficient but personal interaction that builds a lifelong customer relationship.

Kustomer’s 2020 in Review

This wasn’t just an important year for the customer service space, it was also a momentous year for Kustomer as an organization.

January – Kustomer kicked off the year at NRF, where we not only rubbed (pre-COVID) elbows with CX retail experts, but also learned about the importance of delivering an exceptional experience to create customers for life.

February – Kustomer launched our first ever podcast — Customer Service Secrets — to help leaders transform their customer service, with practical information from thought leaders and practitioners who share their secrets to delivering exceptional customer service.

March – COVID-19 transformed business as we know it in March 2020, and as a result Kustomer began offering our Unlimited Package to customers for free, to enable seamless cross-functional communication and dynamic team oversight in a remote environment.

April – In April Kustomer officially launched Kustomer IQ, the artificial intelligence engine embedded across the Kustomer CRM platform. Kustomer IQ leverages advanced artificial intelligence to help agents more efficiently analyze and take action on customer requests, which was even more impactful during a time when agents were being asked to do more with less.

May – Kustomer kept the momentum going in May by acquiring Reply.ai — a top-rated customer service automation company — and began offering enhanced chatbot and deflection capabilities in the Kustomer platform.

June – For the first time, Kustomer was recognized in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center. We believe this recognition underscores Kustomer’s important role in the space, where we are paving the way for the next generation of customer service CRM, driving intelligent and scalable experiences.

July – In July, Kustomer kicked off a new and exciting partnership, after being selected as the only enterprise customer service CRM platform in the Shopify Plus Certified App Program. Our enhanced integration with Shopify Plus helps brands and customer service agents optimize and personalize their experience, all within the Kustomer platform.

August – Kustomer was honored to be named the fastest growing SaaS company by SaaS magazine. Driven by the move to digital-only experiences, changing consumer behavior, and demand for omnichannel service, businesses in many industries turned to Kustomer in record numbers in 2020.

September – Kustomer released powerful new consumer research in September, breaking down what modern consumers expect from the customer experience. The research revealed that consumers rank customer service as the second most important attribute they consider when shopping, right below price, speaking to the importance of delivering on consumer expectations.

October – While we couldn’t get together in person, that didn’t stop Kustomer from hosting our premiere event of the year — Kustomer NOW. Attendees were able to gather insights from the brightest minds in the CX space, like Drybar founder Alli Webb who spoke about how her business was built from the ground up with the customer experience in mind.

November – In November we took the next step in the “Kustomer Journey” and announced that we signed an agreement to be acquired by Facebook subject to customary regulatory review. Once the acquisition closes, we will be able to help more people benefit from customer service that is faster, richer and available whenever and however customers need it.

December – Close on the heels of the announcement, Kustomer hosted Social Commerce Live, an action-packed, free digital event showcasing the power of social channels to build lifelong relationships with your customers. You can still watch on demand and gather insights from brands like Glossier and Bravo.

Kustomer Top Content

In case you missed it, check out some of Kustomer’s top content from the past year, where we explore break down the current state of affairs in CX:

E-Book: How to Leverage Artificial Intelligence for Competitive Customer Service
Report: What Consumers Expect From the Customer Experience
Guide: The 2021 CX Prep Guide
Webinar: How the Global Pandemic Is Affecting Customer Service Organizations
Blog Post: Top Metrics and Strategies for How to Measure Customer Service Performance

 

The Chatbot Cheatsheet: 7 Tips for Building a Chatbot Program

Chatbot Cheatsheet: 7 Tips for Building a Chatbot Program TW

So, you think you’re ready to invest in conversational automation, but you want to avoid the hype and nonsense? Great, then we are here to help! Keep these seven points top-of-mind as you build out your chatbot program, and you’re sure to see value in no time.

1. Understand Your Metrics

“Containment rate” (the percentage of total conversations fully handled by the bot), or its alternative name, “deflection rate”, is a key metric to track when trying to figure out how well your bot is performing. Customer satisfaction is also important. Keep in mind how the introduction of a digital assistant could alter existing performance indicators. For example, will average handle time increase now that agents are only handling more complex inquiries? Ultimately, a well-defined bot program will be able to communicate increased agent efficiency and customer satisfaction, which equals a reduction in the cost of care.

2. Start With Hello

Your first bot does not need to be elaborate. In fact, we recommend against it. When you are first getting started, pick one or two simple, but useful, use cases to automate. Then, you can learn and iterate as you discover how your customers prefer to interact with a chatbot. No one gets it totally right out of the gate, so avoid wasting time by trying to build something “perfect”.

3. Leverage the Agent

We have seen countless chatbot programs fail to engage the existing front-line customer service team when designing an automated conversational experience. It’s great to learn from data and prevailing user experience research, but your agents are the ones who know how your customers are interacting with the bot. Treat the bot like another agent: when you need performance feedback, use its peers.

4. Templates, Rules, and Machine Learning

Not all chatbots are “conversational AI”, because not all use cases require machine learning. Very effective bots can leverage rules and simple conditional logic, it all depends on the use case. Similarly, natural language processing is great when you have a bot with many different skills and a large corpus of knowledge — why make your customers trudge through structured flows when all they should do is ask the question directly? In both cases, we recommend leveraging buttons, quick replies, and other conversational templates that help the user move through the conversation quickly and efficiently.

5. Know When to Handover

A chatbot is not a replacement for a human agent. Often you need to give the user a way to bail out of tough conversations and difficult questions, and that’s alright. Chatbots are excellent at fully resolving low level queries. However, just because an issue is complicated does not mean a chatbot cannot be helpful. Consider how you can use the bot for information gathering and light triage before routing to the right agent. In these cases, the chatbot helps reduce handle time and expedites the customer’s support request.

6. Automation Happens Elsewhere, Too

Chatbots get a lot of attention when it comes to automation. Often it’s the mental model in our heads for intelligent customer service. Consider other ways you can streamline the customer support experience with a bot, and leverage additional intelligent services: automatic tagging, routing, and prioritization for the agent, just to name a few.

7. Be Customer-Centric

At the end of the day, the success of your chatbot comes down to how well it fits into the support journey and cadence strategy you have outlined for your customers. Consider different segments of customers that might prefer automation to that “direct human” connection. Perhaps automation can be more helpful at the end of an interaction than at the beginning. Take a good look at your customers, and we’ll help you find out the right size that fits.

Want to learn how to get started with intelligent chatbots? Find out more here.
 

Leverage the Power of Customer Service Chatbots

The Undeniable Power of Chatbots TW

Since the dawn of the computer age, engineers and designers have had to consider how humans can, and should, interact with new technology. They designed and implemented interfaces that altered our mental models for exchanging information and we had to learn novel symbols, workflows and behaviors in order to interact with these new platforms. Basically, we conformed to the computer, not the other way around. Yet over the last few years, a new service has emerged that represents a departure from this norm: the chatbot, a digital experience that replicates and automates the medium of human conversation.

What Are Chatbots?

If you’ve interacted with an online chat popup, there is a high probability you messaged with a chatbot first, and conversed with a human second. Conversational chatbots are not as complex as you might think. These digital customer service assistants can tap into customer data and knowledge bases stored in their database to help answer common user questions based on the user’s needs or inquiries.

For example, if a customer wants to know what the store operating hours are, they can reap some of the customer service chatbot benefits by getting an automated response with your store’s intelligent chatbot and human customer service agents are now free to focus on more high-level or specific inquiries, conducted through live chat, that might be a bit too complex or nuanced for the chatbot to answer.

The Three Customer Service Chatbot Benefits You Need to Know

Text-based support and conversations are the new interface, but it can get repetitive and it’s difficult to scale a one-to-one communication operation. This is where conversational chatbots come into the picture. Smart businesses use automation to help support more customers who prefer digital communication. 

As automated interactions, conversational AI chatbots can essentially exist wherever human-to-human dialogue is used to change information and accomplish an assignment. The best way to experience the benefits of this kind of automation is to focus on the conversations that you are already having with your customers. Here is where you’ll see an immediate impact:

  1. Faster Response Times: Chat and messaging work best when someone can immediately respond, not when customers are waiting in a queue because agents are tied up. With a chatbot, each message is seen and responded to, and your most common questions are quickly addressed. Further, by allowing chatbots to handle initial information gathering, agents are able to join and resolve conversations faster if escalation is needed.
  2. Better Agent Utilization: No one wants to answer the same question over and over again. Chatbots remove basic, low-level questions from the workload. By reducing the number of messages your agents receive, you will increase the efficiency of your support operations and be able to focus on the more complicated questions and tasks.
  3. Data on What Customers Need: Chatbots automatically collect and analyze your customers’ questions and issues. Instead of manually reviewing conversations or asking agents for anecdotal insights, you can review organized and aggregated intent data.

Implementing a Chatbot for Superior Customer Service

If you’re ready to automate and streamline the interactions you’re already having with your customers, start with these skills to experience the core customer service chatbot benefits:

  1. Five to Ten One-Touch FAQ Answers: Focus on supporting your most common questions that can be addressed with one response. You can direct customers to an FAQ article, or deliver a conversational answer directly.
  2. One Common Workflow: Similar to the above, there are certainly interactions that require authentication or simple lookups from another data source; these aren’t hard to tackle, just usually require manual attention. Verify, authenticate, and pull in data to automate simple workflows. If you’re an e-commerce business, “Where is My Order” or “Return Status” are great, universal examples.
  3. Easy Agent Takeover with Routing: Once a chatbot cannot answer a question or resolve an issue, make the handover process to human support quick and painless. Better yet, ask a few questions just prior to the handover to give agents context for the conversation and route to specialized teams.
  4. Natural Language Processing: Natural language processing and machine learning — the “AI” of conversational AI — make it possible for your bot to understand and respond to customer intent, not specific keywords. This allows the bot to keep up with the way each customer thinks, communicates, and switches topics, ultimately leading to higher understanding and better resolution rates across all conversations.

 

Want to learn more about how chatbots can transform your customer experience? Check out how Kustomer powers intelligent self-service here.

6 Effective Ways to Maintain a Winning Customer Service Strategy

It’s no secret that a strong customer service strategy is the cornerstone of a successful business. Even if your products or services are exceptional, if the customer experience is tainted with one poor interaction, customer loyalty can be lost.

A stellar customer support strategy is meant to enhance the consumer experience as they interact with your brand. Whether they’re curious about the product and have questions, are making a purchase, or need to return something, the steps to accomplish this should be easy and engaging.

But it’s not enough to simply create a strategy and let it run its course. A company must be constantly working to maintain and improve the customer experiences for continued revenue growth. Let’s explore some of the most effective ways to sustain your customer service strategy.

6 Ways to Maintain a Strong Customer Service Strategy

We all know that consumer relations are an important area for businesses to gain a competitive advantage, improve employee and customer engagement and, perhaps most importantly, retain loyal customers. HubSpot recently found that only a 5% increase in customer retention has the potential to increase revenue by 25-95%.

It’s incredibly important to retain customers, not only because it’s more expensive to acquire new ones, but because repeat purchases have an overwhelmingly positive impact on a business’s bottom line. Here are six ways your organization can maintain your customer relationship strategy to improve the consumer experience and, in turn, retention rates and sales:

1. Continue to Communicate With Customers
From surveys and reviews to VOC and other tracking methods, organizations should be constantly communicating and collecting data to determine customer satisfaction long after they have made a purchase. In HubSpot’s “The State of Customer Service in 2020” report, they concluded that companies with high growth are more likely to understand their customers’ thoughts and sentiments about their brand. Some of the most successful strategies included tracking customer happiness and collecting direct feedback through a satisfaction survey.

Finding this information doesn’t need to be difficult or costly, simply continue to reach out to buyers throughout the customer journey and after-sales process. Ask them to complete quick surveys and monitor reviews to make positive changes and ensure customers feel heard.

2. Close the Feedback Loop
On the topic of feedback, it’s not only important to collect it; companies must also work to acknowledge it. When a customer reaches out to explain their negative experience or writes a less-than-stellar review on social media, there’s an opportunity to improve how they view your brand. According to CMS Wire, closing the loop means a company directly responds to customer feedback, no matter if it’s positive or negative.

Continue and end the conversation by offering to make changes or ask the customer to try their brand again while providing them with a discount to reduce churn. At the same time, if a customer leaves a positive review and a brand responds with a thank you, this can increase brand loyalty and turn passive consumers into promoters. Reaching out to consumers this way is proactive customer service.

3. Create a Longstanding Program
There’s no better way to increase customer and employee engagement than by encouraging them to interact and become brand promoters. Creating long-term programs dedicated to understanding the consumer, are great opportunities to receive and study feedback and turn it into action.

Customer-facing programs, like rewards and referrals, make existing customers feel like their individual experience is important, and introduces new consumers to the product or service in an exciting way from a trustworthy friend.

4. Invest in Self-Service Solutions
In the same 2020 HubSpot report, the company was surprised to find that building self-service solutions is a low priority (No. 10 out of 12 options) among businesses. Self-service solutions essentially help customers help themselves. Just like how a self-checkout at the supermarket can help shoppers who are in a rush and only need a few items purchase them quickly, tools like chatbots and other automation can create a better experience for online shoppers.

They can receive answers to their questions quickly, saving both them and the organization time. As customer expectations continue to grow and service teams must do more, self-service tools help everyone have a better experience and be more efficient.

5. Use Automation to Create a Personal Experience
Maintaining your customer service experience is all about continuously improving the interactions consumers have with your brand, and a big part of that is personalization. At a high level, this means knowing their customer history and personalizing interactions to treat them like a person and not just a transaction number. More specifically, it can also be about providing them with unique offers and opportunities that they would like.

Of course, getting to know a customer personally takes a lot of time and effort. It’s impractical to expect a customer service team to understand the intricacies of each customer, but that’s where having a unified customer data platform and automation can help. Smart chatbots with access to unified customer data can be used to a business’s advantage. While artificial intelligence of this nature isn’t a replacement of your people-savvy staff, they are an easy way to make customers feel heard and make their experience more immediate, without sacrificing personalization.

6. Improve Your Digital Customer Service
As more customers than ever make purchases online, it’s important for companies to improve their digital customer service strategy in hand with their in-person interactions. On top of utilizing automation and self-service tools that can quickly collect data and diagnose problems, digital systems must be integrated with other information stores for seamless customer experience.

Customers require access to support in whatever medium is most convenient to them in the moment. For instance, if they are shopping on your mobile app for the first time and have trouble navigating, there should be an effortless way to contact customer service within the app, vs. having to switch devices or channels. Today’s customers expect an easy and hands-off experience, and digital tools can help businesses achieve this by providing a seamless process for resolving problems.

Strive to Improve Your Customer Service Strategy

As you work to maintain an excellent customer service strategy, you should expect to make changes to your processes along the way. As you receive customer feedback and data, you may uncover untapped opportunities to improve their experience and use their advice to the benefit of your organization.

Customer service technology can help you maintain and improve your approach to customer service. Kustomer empowers your service team to deliver an exceptional and personalized brand experience driven by unified data and customer insights.

There’s an unlimited number of opportunities to impress customers and deliver an experience beyond their expectations, and the right tools help you capitalize on them. We are always keeping up with the latest trends to provide the solutions our partners need, to create, execute and maintain an exceptional customer service strategy. Request a demo today to schedule your quick 15-minute introductory call and learn how Kustomer can help your business thrive.
 

How to Deliver on Consumer Expectations

The Top Customer Service Qualities Your Customers Expect TW

Optimal customer service is a must for companies that want a stellar reputation that keeps business flowing. In fact, according to our own research, 79% of consumers say customer service is extremely important when deciding where to shop, so delivering on consumer expectations has never been more important. Retailers need to tailor the way they interact with consumers in a way that exceeds their expectations in an effort to not only maintain their business, but also to gain customer loyalty. It’s not just about delivering on consumer expectations ⁠— it’s about exceeding their anticipated desires to drive loyalty.

Focusing on opportunities that go above and beyond, personalizing interactions and providing services that ensure a competitive advantage are imperative to surviving and thriving as a business today.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common new and existing consumer expectations, the importance of meeting these desired outcomes and how your brand can properly deliver on exceptional customer service and engagement:

What Do Customers Expect From Customer Service?

When it comes to creating the optimal customer experience, brands know how important it is to embrace technology. The digital age has made it easier than ever to connect with customers via outlets like social media, solve issues in a timely fashion, and build brand loyalty and awareness. Taking advantage of technology to address, manage and resolve traditional problems is essential for businesses that want to thrive in 2020 and beyond.

“It’s clear that the digital age has transformed what the modern day consumer expects from retailers,” Brad Birnbaum, CEO of Kustomer, explained. “The younger generation not only wants instant resolution to their problems, they also demand personalized interactions and availability across all channels. Retailers must put a customer service strategy in place, and leverage the right tools, to deliver on these expectations.”

According to data gathered from The Customer Service Situation, a 2019 customer satisfaction survey conducted by OnePoll for Kustomer, there are opportunities for brands to bounce back from a mistake, but not all consumers are willing to give businesses more than a few chances. In fact, our research shows that the average customer gives a retailer three mistakes before he or she decides to return to the business or never make a purchase with them again. This information may show that customers are willing to give brands the benefit of the doubt, but additional majority data might say otherwise ⁠— 80% of shoppers agreed they wouldn’t continue business with a retailer if they had a bad customer service experience.

So what should companies focus on when it comes to providing optimal customer service? Be attentive to quality control and making as few mistakes as possible to retain customers and gain their loyalty.

In our Customer Expectations During the Holiday Season man-on-the-street video, consumers said that if they had a bad customer service experience, they would return their product and go somewhere else. Another said she would call the bank and dispute the charge, while another customer admitted to the willingness to go elsewhere and shop outside of his budget knowing that it’ll be a worthy exchange because he’s going to get optimal customer service. This ties right back into our survey, where 59% of customers agreed they’d be willing to pay more money if it meant better customer service.

Timeliness is also a must. Our survey found that customers tend to get annoyed with customer service agents if they’re placed on hold for more than 3.5 minutes, which means representatives need to have solutions ready as soon as possible.

Consistency in great service is a major expectation for consumers. Failure to do so could result in permanently lost business — according to the survey, the average consumer admits to swearing off at least four businesses after having bad customer service experiences.

What Does It Take to Deliver Exceptional Customer Engagement?

Creating a personalized customer experience is essential for businesses to flourish in today’s fast-paced world. As covered in a previous blog The Importance of Empathy, Compassion and a Truly Human Customer Experience, simple moments of kindness in customer service, like a laugh over the phone, a smiley face emoji via chat or an e-mail that asks how the customer is doing, can facilitate a positive reputation for any brand and can be one of its greatest assets, especially today.

In another one of our man-on-the-street videos, Personalization in Customer Service, consumers shared that they expect a certain level of personalization from a customer service agent, especially when personal information is provided during the initial conversation. When you don’t have to reiterate your issues over multiple instances with an agent, the interaction between the customer and agent becomes more worthwhile.

In essence, delivering on consumer expectations is all about understanding what the consumer wants and creating personalized customer service experiences based on those needs. A mixture of automation and human interaction allows you to meet said expectations while providing quality assistance that leads customers back to your business.

For more information on personalization in customer service, download Kustomer’s how-to guide, Customer Personalization: 3 Ways to Deliver Personalized Support and Earn Lifelong Brand Loyalty or request a demo to learn more about upgrading your customer service software today.
 

How Automation Can Help You Scale Your Business

How Automation Can Help You Scale Your Business TW

The digital landscape that we live in today has made it simple and seamless to access the information we need, instantly, from the palms of our hands. This means consumers are more comfortable and in-tune with their ability to reach out to your customer service team.

Making it as easy as possible on them, however, should be one of your top priorities. As your business grows and you must tackle more customer service inquiries, you need a strategy that allows you to scale your business. That’s where customer service automation comes in.

Automating low-level service allows your business to meet customer needs without compromising quality and bringing in too many customer service agents. Let’s take a closer look at scalability and how automation can ensure an effective transition.

What Does it Mean to Scale Your Service?

While growing your business is equally important to scaling it, these two concepts are not one and the same. Scaling your business is what comes after you gain that initial growth.

As explained by HubSpot, scaling your business means that you have the funds, resources and overall organizational ability to take on an increase in sales, and therefore, and an uptick in work across the board.

Scaling a business is very similar to scaling a photo on the computer. The idea is to enlarge the picture without taking away from its quality. Scalability in business is all about utilizing the tools you have to maintain business growth without compromising value.

Automation and Scalability

Scalability sounds great in theory, but it often takes a robust strategy to turn the idea into reality. Automation makes scalability highly achievable by essentially providing more service to the customer without increasing the need for human resources. In the context of customer service, automation can mean actions such as automatically routing consumers to the right agent, and gathering information before the conversation even begins. Involving chatbots allows customer service agents to get a head start by knowing the information chatbots have already gathered and diving directly into more complex work. With more opportunity to take care of all queries that come up, scalability becomes second nature.

How Kustomer Can Help you Scale Your Business

Scaling your business can be a fairly simple concept when you choose a provider with a robust solution. Kustomer provides a platform that powers personalized and efficient omnichannel customer service by using powerful AI capabilities that make scaling your business almost effortless.

With automation, your company can better meet customers’ needs by contextualizing conversations, which also allows you to reduce the number of manual tasks that have fallen on customer service agents in the past. Even more, all of this can be achieved without compromising the overall quality of service, allowing your business to deliver on customers’ expectations and uphold a positive reputation.

Automated processes may be the next step in the journey to improve your business. Learn more about how Kustomer can help you scale your business with our Definitive Guide to Scaling Customer Service.

From cross-channel conversations to automated business processes, the Kustomer platform can help your business improve overall efficiencies by automating routine actions and eliminating manual tasks altogether.
 

How Automated Online Customer Service Can Transform Online Banking as We Know It

credit card

Banking has changed drastically over the years. Today, you don’t have to drive to the bank and meet with a teller to make a withdrawal or move money from a checking to a savings account. Instead, you can use a secure app to take care of these menial tasks from the palm of your hand.

These features in online banking demonstrate just a few of the many ways customers feel satisfied by the convenience the digital world offers. Add automated customer service opportunities to online banking and it becomes even more advantageous — to both the customer and the business offering the service.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the benefits that come with adding automated online customer service options to online banking:

Seamless Communication Efforts

For most customers, instant communication provides immediate gratification. According to an Accenture Financial Services Banking Report, 49% of customers agreed that instant support is a key factor in building loyalty with a bank. Customers have always had the option to call into their banks to speak with a representative about an inquiry, but are oftentimes left on hold. With an instant online customer service option, customers can get the answers they need in real-time, whether from an agent, a chatbot or a knowledge base.

Preferred Way of Banking

Today, many consumers live in a fast-paced environment and expect as much convenience in their daily lives as they can get. According to PwC’s 2018 Digital Banking Consumer Survey “Mobile users set the agenda,” with 15% of customers preferring to utilize mobile banking and agreeing that most of their banking is done digitally.

Furthermore, a Gartner survey revealed that 44% of respondents choose their phones as the preferred device for resolving a problem with a company. Through customer service automation, banks can provide quick answers to customer questions on their preferred mobile channel, while saving valuable agent man hours for more challenging customer problems.

Personalization is Key

Automated customer service can make sure customers’ demand for speed aremet. One way to ensure this is by investing in a customer service CRM platform that understands the digital age as well as customer expectations. Kustomer, for example, has worked with companies to help them achieve efficient and effective customer service that enhances the overall customer experience. Using artificial intelligence and intelligent automation, Kustomer can transform online banking into an even more convenient option for consumers who want immediate service and total control of their personal finances on any channel they choose.

Interested in learning more about how Kustomer can provide automated customer service to the world of online banking? Reach out to us directly today for a demo.

Why Data Will Power the Future of the Contact Center

Why Data Will Power the Future of the Contact Center TW

Until now, the omnichannel, cloud-based, 360-degree customer view-enabled contact center was mostly a pipe dream, touted by technology vendors and thought leaders, with a majority of businesses falling short of this gold standard. Most customers still expect to fight their way through a dead-end IVR, endure multiple transfers, and repeat their information to agents who have zero context on who they are or why they’re calling.

As technology grows more robust, however, more and more businesses are starting to overcome these bottlenecks, more of which are related to a lack of data transparency. Businesses are using AI and machine learning-enabled platforms to unify their data across the organization, route customers based not only on queues but context, and design self-service platforms that facilitate end-to-end support.

Treat Every Customer Touchpoint as a Potential Data Source

For many businesses, their website is the seat of personalization. By collecting data on customer’s viewing history and purchasing habits, they can provide personalized recommendations and proactive support based on context, such as offering help through web chat to a customer who’s having trouble completing an online purchase. But a truly omnichannel experience is one where personalization follows the customer, whether they’re on the phone with an agent, shopping online or visiting in-store.

This means that data you collect from your website must be reconciled with the customer’s activity in all other channels to build a complete 360-degree view of each individual customer. When an agent interacts with a customer, regardless of channel, they should be able to see the customer’s buying history, sentiment and previous interactions (across every channel), status of their orders and customer’s preferred channel.

Says Kustomer CEO Brad Birnbaum, “Imagine having a conversation with a friend but not being able to remember anything about that friend, or any interactions you’ve had with them previously. It would be difficult to have a truly personal or meaningful conversation. That’s how traditional retailers have historically interacted with their customers, with a large blind spot around customer preferences and history.”

Optimize Human to AI Interactions

“Agents for complex issues, AI for simple ones” is an oft-repeated principle for successful human-AI interactions in the contact center. However, customers still find themselves calling when a chatbot does not function as anticipated. For this reason and others, the contact center is often still considered a cost center rather than a revenue driver. Once businesses learn how to optimize their self-service channels, while giving customers recourse to contact a live agent if needed, agents will automatically become the go-to touchpoint for complex issues and expert recommendations, and thereby come to be perceived as subject matter experts.

Without the burden of responding to repetitive inquiries, agents can focus on building a relationship with the customer. As Birnbaum says, “It will become the customer service agent’s job to reflect the company’s mission and values, and act as a trusted partner. The changing expectations of consumers means that customers want to do business with companies they believe in, feeling as though they are a part of the brand. Customer service agents can help do just that, through both proactive and reactive support.

To learn more about common blockers contact centers must overcome to power the future of customer service, download the CCW Special Report on the Customer Contact Vision for 2025.

Download CCW Report


How Automation Is Changing the World of Customer Service

Woman with Laptop

Today, many industries rely on technology to operate successfully. More so, our current climate has forced businesses to shift to remote work, making digital reliance more critical than ever. Consumers are expecting great customer service no matter what, even when face-to-face interaction isn’t an option.

That’s where automation comes into play. According to Business News Daily, many business owners are already taking advantage of automation in one form or another, as it can be highly valuable to a company’s bottom line.

“Automation takes a lot of forms,” Fred Townes, co-founder and COO of a real estate tech company shared with Business News Daily. “For small businesses, the most important thing is [repetition]. When you find something you do more than once that adds value … you want to look into automation.”

Automation doesn’t necessarily mean sacrificing the customer experience, rather, it can better equip agents with the information and resources needed to better service customers. Customer service is just one of many factors business owners can automate and see improvements in terms of scalability and overall efficiencies.

Why is Automation Valuable in Customer Service?

AI in customer service has had a good reputation for some time. In fact, last year, research predicted that digital customer service options would increase by 143% this year. When automation handles the repetitive tasks, it frees up time for agents to interact directly with customers. With the help of AI, customer service agents have more time to interact with more consumers, with less strain, and see a major impact on scalability.

Customer expectations are different than they were a decade ago. Consumers understand the capabilities of technology and want to feel that businesses are taking full advantage of it. Businesses that utilize different service types online, such as self-service and full-service options, are providing their customers with flexibility. Giving customers the opportunity to help themselves, through carefully curated content and online chatbots, are a few ways to offer self-service. Since 67% of customers prefer self-service over talking to a company representative, this flexibility makes it easier for customers to get the answers they need as quickly as possible.

How Can Businesses Make the Switch?

If your business has yet to implement customer service automation, you’ve come to the right place. Kustomer strives to make personalized, efficient and effortless customer service a reality for any business. As a multi-channel SaaS platform with powerful AI capabilities, Kustomer enables companies to contextualize all conversations to not only better understand each customer, but also to eliminate the distracting, time-consuming tasks that fall upon agents.

From cross-channel conversations to automated business processes, the Kustomer platform can help your business improve overall efficiencies by automating routine actions and eliminating manual tasks altogether.

Interested in learning more about how automation can change your customer service reputation? Contact Kustomer today to get started.

The Benefits of Intelligent Automation in Customer Service

Man with iPad

Now more than ever, artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a fundamental cornerstone of business operations and is changing the way that companies across the globe work. In fact, the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Semiannual Artificial Intelligence Systems Spending Guide forecasted spending on AI to reach $79.2 billion in 2022, with a growth rate of 38% between 2018 and 2022.

Speaking to the world of customer service, intelligent automation is a solution that can personalize the interactions between businesses and their customers while making the experience more efficient and streamlined.

Let’s take a closer look at what defines intelligent automation and some of the benefits of customer service automation software:

What Is Intelligent Automation?

According to Forbes Council Member Vik Renjen, intelligent automation is defined as the combination of AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) used to mimic the behavior of the customer by using applications to find and transform data into business processes and workflows. In customer service, intelligent automation can be used to capture valuable data that supports and manages customer interactions automatically.

What are the Benefits of Intelligent Automation in Customer Service?

AI doesn’t have to replace humans in customer service, rather, it can be used as a supplemental tool for providing necessary information and assistance to customers and agents alilke. Here are some of the benefits that come with intelligent automation in customer service:

Improved Scalability
Chatbots, one form of AI that can be beneficial, help organizations scale their services to more people than they would be able to provide through live agents alone. These bots can be used to collect information from customers, suggest automated responses and assist agents along the customer journey. They can also answer simple questions, such as those around business hours, return policies, order status and more.

Increased Attention to Conversation Wants and Needs
Intelligent automation can be used to pinpoint topical keywords throughout a conversation to better assist the customer. One of the customer service features available in the Kustomer platform is Automated Conversation Classification, which uses intelligent automation to categorize conversations via machine learning, so that the conversation is immediately routed to the most appropriate agent to properly meet his or her specific wants and needs.

Improved Resourcing Processes
AI can also be used to predict conversation volume during certain periods to assist management in delegating work and managing staffing requirements. Additionally, AI can be used to track how well agents are performing; with an understanding of how much “work” AI is handling, and where agents are falling short, management can get insight into the knowledge of the agent and provide training or additional resources based on the information.

How Kustomer Can Help

Intelligent automation is a key factor behind Kustomer’s ability to serve its clients and their customers. Kustomer uses Kustomer IQ to automate time consuming processes and provide teams with valuable insights, so that businesses can provide consistent, personalized customer service in a timely manner.

Interested in learning more about Kustomer’s solution to your current customer service platform? Contact us directly today to get started.

3 Ways Customer Service Teams Must Adjust During COVID-19

3 Ways Customer Service Teams Must Adjust During COVID-19 TW

Life has become a series of trade-offs and workarounds in light of the pandemic. Curbside pick-ups are my new norm. My inbox is a litany of order confirmations and estimated delivery times. Last weekend, I drove to a local hardware store and found the following handwritten message on a sign at their front door: “Know what you want. Get in and get out.” At times, my interactions with people feel purely transactional.

The world has changed, and customer service is changing right along with it. Businesses are being challenged with a paradoxical conundrum: how do we retain our humanness? How do we maintain trust in a time of uncertainty? Below are three ways customer service teams must adjust in light of the global pandemic.

Empathy Is #1.

Companies who approach customer service with a deeper level of empathy are more likely to maintain loyalty and win new business. This concept is not a newfound revelation. In fact, The Empathy Business has studied the efficacy of empathy in business for years. And what have they found? Organizations that focus on the “emotional impact” they have on employees, customers, and society are valued higher and earn more than their counterparts.

In the world of COVID-19, empathy is even more desperately needed. Quarantine measures and social isolation mean a rise in loneliness and other mental health issues. Think about it this way: what if your organization delivers the only social interaction an individual will experience for a full day? Armed with that information, how should you change your customer journey?

Start small. Use your data. Study the way your customers use your tools and services. Where are they running into roadblocks? Where are you making your customers’ lives easier? Take note and adjust. Document your FAQs in an accessible location, like a Knowledge Base. Have the patience to clearly explain the nuances of your business and policies. Above all else, practice kindness in all of your communication.

“One-Size-Fits-All” Won’t Succeed.

As the pandemic spreads, we’ve seen a spike in conversations for many of our clients. And according to a recent survey by Kustomer, there has been a 17% increase in inquiries across industries. With this influx in communication, it no longer makes sense to force every customer to call the same number to contact your company. Instead, it’s time to get smart about the channels you employ to manage customer interactions, and it’s time to invest in a fully-fledged omnichannel experience.

But beware: you should avoid blindly adding new service channels without a strategy in place. Dig deep into your customer personas and understand their respective beliefs and behaviors. McKinsey notes that “not all customers are the same, and it’s how they differ in their behavior and preferences—particularly on digital—that should have an outsize influence on how service journeys are designed.” Keep this in mind, too: a small percentage of customers — classified as the “offline society” -— may suddenly be forced into adopting digital communication in light of shelter-in-place orders. Take these different customers into account when adapting your customer service strategies.

Automation Is a Necessity, Not a Luxury.

As we’ve seen an increase in the number of inquiries, we’ve also seen an increase in the need for artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies. Agents can become easily overwhelmed by an onslaught of new messages. AI can automate some of the more tedious tasks that those agents might encounter, thereby freeing their time for more important work.

Consider how you can deflect commonly asked questions and save your agents valuable time. Let’s say you’re an airline in today’s world. With the rise of the pandemic, you’re being flooded with requests for information about your refund policy. Instead of directing your team to answer each inquiry individually, you could use automation to serve up pre-written articles that align with the inquiry’s keywords. Not only do you protect your team’s time, but you also deliver a better customer experience as customers receive near-instant answers to their questions. Beyond that, unsuccessful deflections can provide a treasure trove of data to guide your future content.

Those who adapt and adjust their strategies now can influence their fate in the post-pandemic world. The opportunity is there. We have to be good stewards of our time and resources to capitalize on it.

Predict Customer Needs with Kustomer IQ

 

Save your team time and money with AI for Customer Service

Customer service teams are being asked to do way more with much less, and here at Kustomer we want to ensure that your team has all the tools to be as efficient and effective as possible. It’s impossible for teams to achieve this without eliminating manual, time-consuming work, like sifting through queues, escalating issues, or processing transactions.

Identifying the intent of every conversation might be step one in a service interaction, but automating this process transforms how you operationalize support, driving efficient customer service that keeps customers and agents happy.

Conversation Classification, the newest and most powerful feature of Kustomer IQ, analyzes and classifies inbound conversations, and uses those new attributes to trigger process automation that takes work off your team’s plate. In other words, machine learning analyzes your historical data to predict a customer’s intent for contacting customer service. It can also tag spam conversations, as well as automatically flag urgent conversations that need to be prioritized.

Here’s how it works.

  • STEP ONE: First, users select what they want to predict.
  • STEP TWO: Once you select what you want to predict, the tool checks to see if there is enough data that can be used to accurately make a prediction.
  • STEP THREE: If everything checks out, the system is trained to detect specific language in messages.
  • STEP FOUR: Users review the model for expected accuracy.
  • STEP FIVE: Once the training is complete, the model is ready for use and deployed. Conversation Classification will tag inbound messages which can then trigger process automation.

Emily Marcogliese, Head of Customer Service from our partner at thredUp recently shared, “Kustomer IQ has had a tremendous impact on my team’s efficiency. Machine learning instantly identifies the purpose of every inbound conversation, then intelligently routes each customer to a specific team based on their contact reason, such as orders, returns, or clean out. Rather than spend time manually routing conversations, my team can focus on delivering personalized service and resolving issues quickly to decrease customer effort.”

Conversation Classification in action.

Once conversations are analyzed and classified, Conversation Classification can unlock powerful automation. Here are a few of the ways it can be put into action:

  • Automate Rules: Our rules engines can automate any process, like escalating unhappy customers to more knowledgeable teams, or execute transactional interactions like refunds, returns or status updates.
  • Route Conversations: Instantly and accurately route conversations to specialized teams based on how you classify customer outreach, such as by contact reason or product line.
  • Send Auto-Responses: Responses to your most common questions can be automated, freeing up valuable time and energy.

Read more about Conversation Classification in our Help Center, and check out our pricing page to view our Kustomer IQ packages.

 

Kustomer Launches Kustomer IQ, Leveraging Intelligence Throughout Its Customer Service Platform

Kustomer IQ leverages advanced artificial intelligence to help agents more efficiently analyze and take action on customer requests. Machine learning models are deployed to allow support experiences to be more rapid and accurate.

NEW YORK, April 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Kustomer, the SaaS platform reimagining enterprise customer service, announced the broad rollout of Kustomer IQ, its artificial intelligence engine embedded across the Kustomer CRM platform. Kustomer IQ is empowering companies to do more with less, and operate as efficiently as possible in the face of a reduction of resources. The solution leverages the power of machine learning to get to the root of customer needs, helping achieve effective customer experiences by eliminating manual guesswork and arming agents with the tools and insights that drive results across responses, routing, and analytics. Kustomer IQ also offers customer deflection tools across web, chat, and email channels, which automate the communication of initial and routine customer inquiries.

“Kustomer IQ delivers quicker and more accurate results to customer service inquiries by leveraging sophisticated machine learning models. Our intelligence tools help companies efficiently automate and scale communication without compromising accuracy, whether it’s routing inbound requests to the right team or measuring a customer’s sentiment,” said Brad Birnbaum, CEO and Co-Founder of Kustomer. “This increase in speed and overall quality experiences translates into more satisfied and loyal customers, which every business needs right now.”

With Kustomer IQ, companies can access AI-powered tools to contextualize every conversation and leverage that data to save valuable agent time for more meaningful and essential customer service. Its highly accurate machine learning models are easily trained with a few simple clicks allowing any company to harness the power of modern AI.

“Kustomer IQ has had a tremendous impact on my team’s efficiency. Machine learning instantly identifies the purpose of every inbound conversation, then intelligently routes each customer to a specific team based on their contact reason, such as orders, returns, or clean out. Rather than spend time manually routing conversations, my team can focus on delivering personalized service and resolving issues quickly to decrease customer effort,” says Emily Marcogliese, Head of Customer Service at ThredUp.

Kustomer IQ includes new features such as:

  • Automated Self-Service: Native omnichannel deflection capabilities provide relevant and accurate content to customers from an organization’s Knowledge Base prior to agent intervention.
  • Conversation Classification: Machine learning analyzes and classifies inbound conversations, triggering smarter processes that expedite customer experiences.
  • Agent Recommendations: Machine learning analyzes customer messages and suggests relevant help articles and policy content to resolve issues faster.
  • Global Language Detection: Featuring natural language processing and powered by Amazon Comprehend, language detection helps companies deliver consistent experiences to all customers.
  • Sentiment Analysis: Machine learning analyzes messages and recognizes exactly how customers are feeling, assigning a sentiment score to help agents mirror emotions, and calm frustrations.
  • NLP (Natural Language Processing) Chatbot (coming soon): By leveraging NLP and the advanced CRM data model in the Kustomer platform, its chatbot will be able to offer automated information gathering and human-like levels of customer service to company conversations

Kustomer IQ is being offered in three tiers: Kustomer IQ Lite, Kustomer IQ and Kustomer IQ+. Kustomer IQ includes all of the features above, enabling companies to provide more efficient experiences through sophisticated automation and accurate predictive insights. Kustomer IQ+, coming soon, will provide end-customers a new way to interact with brands, featuring an AI-powered chatbot functionality. The chatbot will be capable of conducting two-way dialogue via live chat and be able to recognize customers based on custom object data, helping brands accurately deflect inquiries around orders, shipping and tracking.

To provide all customers with powerful AI capabilities, Kustomer has included a complimentary Lite version of Kustomer IQ as part of their existing pricing plans. Kustomer IQ Lite includes global language detection and sentiment analysis, so all customers can provide empathetic service and support around the world.

“We’re proud to announce Kustomer IQ Lite includes automated self-service, so all companies can take advantage of deflection and conversational assistant support capabilities,” adds Birnbaum. “Now, more than ever, when companies are struggling to do more with less, we believe that deflection will serve as an added leg up in delivering an exceptional support experience. We are committed to our client’s success and are proud to offer the enhanced AI capabilities that we believe are crucial.”

For more information about Kustomer, visit www.kustomer.com

About Kustomer
Kustomer is the omnichannel SaaS platform reimagining enterprise customer service to deliver standout experiences – not resolve tickets. Built with intelligent automation, Kustomer scales to meet the needs of any contact center and business by unifying data from multiple sources and enabling companies to deliver effortless, consistent and personalized service and support through a single timeline view. Today, Kustomer is the core platform of some of the leading customer service brands like Ring, Glossier, Away, Glovo, Slice and UNTUCKit. Headquartered in NYC, Kustomer was founded in 2015 by serial entrepreneurs Brad Birnbaum and Jeremy Suriel, has raised over $173M in venture funding, and is backed by leading VCs including: Coatue, Tiger Global Management, Battery Ventures, Redpoint Ventures, Cisco Investments, Canaan Partners, Boldstart Ventures and Social Leverage.

Media Contact:
Cari Sommer
Raise Communications
cari@raisecg.com
 

What Kustomer IQ Can Do For You

Announcing AI for Customer Service in your CRM Platform

While these are extraordinary times, your organization’s top priority is unwavering—to provide customers with exceptional, convenient customer service. For many, customer conversations are only increasing, and Kustomer has stuck its course to build a CRM platform packed with the tools and capabilities that help you connect with customers, keep them engaged, and manage processes to perform at max capacity and grow.

We also think our platform should eliminate any barriers between your agents and your customers because time is of the essence—now more than ever. That’s where we think AI comes in, not to take on the role of the agent, but to act as a partner in getting to the root of customer needs in order to handle simple responses or immediately place them in touch with their best, most expedient resource.

We’re excited to announce our suite of AI-enabled capabilities is now available to customers. Called Kustomer IQ, it enables smarter processes that eliminate busywork and help teams better understand what customers need.

“Customer service is one of the first touch points that a consumer has with a brand, and modern companies need the tools to scale automation without compromising the exceptional brand experience customers have come to expect,” said Brad Birnbaum, CEO and Co-Founder of Kustomer. “Kustomer IQ will help companies further serve the needs of their customers by providing self-service tools to bring even more efficiencies to customer service. We are especially proud to broadly roll this out right now.”

AI Makes Every Conversation More Convenient

Kustomer IQ Lite is available to all customers on our Enterprise and Ultimate plans, and features self-service tools and predictive capabilities that help gauge emotions and equip agents with knowledge, content, and empathy to get the job done quickly.

We See Automated Self-Service Differently

Kustomer IQ works alongside your team to tackle easy questions, and elicit details from your customers so agents can get a head start, or possibly deflect simple inquiries.

Kustomer IQ is omnichannel, using content from an organization’s knowledge base to suggest relevant articles when customers reach out via email, live chat, or form submission. Watch our tutorial below on how to get started with deflection in chat today.


We’ve added deflection to our reporting stack, providing real-time analysis so you can verify success, quantify time saved for customers and agents, and understand how content is performing, with insights into what customers are seeking to help plan future articles and deflect more conversations.

Our smart Conversational Assistant prompts customers to provide additional information around their needs, and in the coming weeks, we plan on adding branchable logic to the Kustomer IQ suite, which will extend your ability to gather finer details and help decide the most appropriate service path.

Deliver Empathetic Global Support

Kustomer is proud to partner with organizations representing six continents around the world—we’re a global solution available in more than 60 languages.

For those managing global customer service, Kustomer IQ leverages Amazon Comprehend machine learning capabilities to detect language upon contact, then route conversations to native-speaking agents or enable multilingual translated content if needed. It also analyzes messages to understand how customers are feeling, and assigns a sentiment score to help agents get on even footing as soon as they respond.

 

Get to the Root of Every Conversation

Our basic Kustomer IQ package features more sophisticated predictive and automation capabilities powered by machine learning, which work by analyzing data and content to accurately assess customer needs and activate smarter processes in the Kustomer platform. Check out our pricing page for more information.

Impeccable Customer Service, Fast

Intent Identification, the newest, most powerful feature of Kustomer IQ, analyzes and classifies inbound conversations, and uses those new attributes or conversation tags to trigger process automation that takes work off your team’s plate. This includes intelligent conversation routing, all based on how you classify customer outreach, such as by contact reason or product line. In addition, automated workflows can be triggered to manage communications, initiate greetings, or provide temporary air cover.

Emily Marcogliese, Head of Customer Service from our partner at thredUp recently shared, “Kustomer IQ has had a tremendous impact on my team’s efficiency. Machine learning instantly identifies the purpose of every inbound conversation, then intelligently routes each customer to a specific team based on their contact reason, such as orders, returns, or clean out. Rather than spend time manually routing conversations, my team can focus on delivering personalized service and resolving issues quickly to decrease customer effort.”

 

 

Agent Recommendations (coming soon to Kustomer IQ) use internal and external content to generate content suggestions in real time, which will come in handy for agents-in-training who may be new to policies and brand knowledge. Machine learning analyzes customer messages to accurately offer information for faster conversations and precise resolution.

 

Get Started Now

We’re excited to announce that Enterprise and Ultimate plans come equipped with a Lite version of Kustomer IQ, so all our customers can take advantage of these awesome capabilities. Kustomer IQ Lite includes Automated Self-Service with our Conversational Assistant, Global Language Detection, and Sentiment Analysis.

Our base package for Kustomer IQ will be available on April 30, featuring enhanced AI capabilities to automate more conversations, including conversation classification, agent recommendations, and a more advanced Conversational Assistant.

And coming later this year, Kustomer IQ+ will open up new ways for customers to interact with brands. Featuring enhanced AI functionality, Kustomer IQ+ will automate simple, contextualized two-way dialogue on live chat with custom object recognition, so you can leverage and update information regarding orders, purchases, shipping, tracking, and much more.

Learn more about Kustomer IQ at our live webinar on April 22nd at 1pm ET, and contact us if you have any questions.

 

4 Easy Ways to Maintain a Strong Culture While Transitioning to Remote Work

4 Easy Ways to Maintain a Strong Culture While Transitioning to Remote Work TW

The global work environment is undergoing a massive shift, and with recent events forcing the acceleration of remote work, leaders everywhere are scrambling to find ways to maintain and continue building a strong team culture within their organizations during this abrupt transition. Luckily, thanks to modern technology, there are many ways to create an environment of positive behavior, togetherness and productivity even in a remote team.

Of course, with any types of changes, there are a few adjustments that need to be made. Here are some of the ways to not only maintain, but to build a strong culture while transitioning to a remote team:

1. Ensure that your team is equipped with the right tools that match your culture and encourage collaboration

The concept of “the path of least resistance” comes into play in all aspects of life, and building a strong team culture in a remote environment is no different. When I think about some of the work friendships I’ve made in my career, many of those friendships were forged with people who were in the same “new-hire onboarding” class as I was. Those friendships were strengthened if they happened to be on the same team, and even more so if we became deskmates. The same concept applies to remote work. Work relationships are built with those we communicate with often.

When it comes to building culture in the context of a remote environment, the easier it is to communicate and collaborate, the more those behaviors will be reinforced. It is especially important in a remote setting to err on the side of over-communication as opposed to under-communication, as rampant miscommunication and missing information can dismantle trust and culture fast. With a wide variety of instant messaging and video conferencing platforms, along with the internal notes and comments sections of your customer management platform, an environment of open communication and collaboration in remote teams is no longer just a dream, it is a very achievable reality.

2. Create opportunities for remote social interactions

In a remote work environment it can feel as if you should only reach out to a colleague when problems arise or help is needed. During those times, stress levels are high and there can be a buildup of negative emotions towards an individual, especially when all interactions with them are stressful, demanding and require deep thought. Without a foundation of trust and camaraderie, it’s much easier to misinterpret the intention of an e-mail or message.

This problem is often alleviated in an in-office environment since colleagues will inevitably bump into each other during coffee or lunch breaks. In a remote work environment, not so much. This is why it’s smart to have fully optional, but regularly scheduled, virtual coffee and lunch breaks. By encouraging remote team members to bond virtually, and foster a “remote office social life”, teammates can feel much more comfortable asking each other questions and giving honest feedback when it comes to business.

3. Setting clear goals and expectations

While setting clear goals and expectations is important in any environment, dysfunction from a lack of direction becomes more apparent in a remote team. While some remote employees may disappear into the abyss when there is a lack of direction, others may overcompensate and overwork to appear productive, which could potentially lead to burnout. Neither of these scenarios are beneficial for the employee or the employer. It is up to leadership and the managers to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Bound) and hold employees accountable, giving direct feedback if expectations aren’t being met. This allows remote employees to stay connected to the overall mission and goals of the company as well as empower the employee to engage in their work. The happiest employees have a deeper sense of meaning to their work than to simply clock in and clock out for a paycheck.

4. Foster an environment that celebrates wins

While it is important to see reality for what it is and to find gaps and weaknesses in the business, it is equally, if not more important, to find strengths and reasons to celebrate. In an in-office environment, it’s easy to celebrate all sorts of “wins”. Whether you just brought a promising new hire on board, ran a smooth implementation of new software, or helped turn an angry customer into a happy one, news will get around. In a remote environment, employees may often feel isolated and lonely. Negative and urgent news may travel faster than the small wins, but it is crucial to to emphasize the wins. By fostering an environment that celebrates all the wins and allows the cheers to reverberate across communication channels, you encourage a culture of positivity that lifts employees up.

Want more practical tips for working remotely? Check out our latest infographic on how to stay sane and productive while working from home.

 

Deliver personalized, effortless customer service.

Request Live DemoWatch Video Demos