We recently held an exclusive invitation-only online Speakeasy with CX executives in California. These leaders ranged from digitally-focused to family-run organizations, across all sizes and industries. The primary purpose of the event was to engage our Kustomer community to discuss complex topics during these difficult times. The conversations naturally flowed from how their businesses are handling the COVID-19 crisis, to transformation while resources are crunched, and finally their top three strategies for success.
What Is Being Done NOW
An executive began by reciting a quote from their CEO: “don’t let a good crisis go to waste.” And boy did that ring true. A key theme that kept surfacing was the importance of unifying product and CX. It’s critical to get buy-in and support from product and engineering around co-owning the CX goals. For instance, you may set a goal for the amount of CS contacts per thousand transactions, and the product team should take this information into account during development.
Several other executives stated that they had a growth problem during the pandemic. Finding the right resources to help the business scale was an issue. Others stated that their CX issues were a mixture of stagnation and scale, and they were seeking to optimize workflows to minimize the impact of furloughs. Regardless of whether the business was scaling or contracting, everyone agreed that baseline tickets were rising and removing friction between product, engineering and support was critical. A great example of this success was raised during the conversation: “How many times have you issued a support request to Netflix?” Most everyone responded: never.
Transformation While Resources Are Crunched
There is an old technology world competing with a new technology world that is now thriving. Is the old technology still relevant? Many organizations are moving towards modern technology and digital transformation.
One executive stated that they were part of the old school class of folks who thought that CX couldn’t be done from home. And yet, they transitioned their CX team to work from home in a week. Interestingly, the CX leader started the process a few weeks before COVID hit as she had a funny feeling. They configured laptops and had them out to agents who previously did not have access to laptops at all.
Another executive stated that their agents, based in London and Austin, already had laptops to successfully work from home, but 200 agents in the US needed monitors to work from multiple screens. Employees came back to the office for basic accessories like chords and power plugs. There was some hesitation about voice quality or even security using home computers, but that went away after the first week. The pandemic accelerated their business continuity plan and now challenges occur more due to kids, school and scheduling.
Many companies saw a surge in volume, so job enrichment and training had to be put on the backburner. They needed more people or more resources to get the job done. However, work from home presented some challenges around measuring metrics and understanding who can sustain remote work and who may not be up to par.
One executive stated, “I think there were people getting away with it at the office and the home office is not conducive to working. Kids are maybe getting in the way. Some folks are struggling and may not be candidates for working from home.”
Luckily, many individuals think technology can help. The CEO of one organization used to work at stodgy banks, and he doesn’t want that for his current company — he wants to be different. He wants to adopt AI and transform into a modern financial institution. Other executives stated that their companies were not as forward-looking on AI, and convincing management could often be a challenge.
Moving the Customer Experience Dial
A CX executive began the conversation by stating that moving the needle 1% is a good thing, and focusing on one single metric that does so could lead to success. In his case, it was support cost as a percentage of revenue. This metric scales because it is clear to everyone.
“If you double the revenue, you can double support costs,” he said. This metric sets a north star and ties every team back to the results. The CX group doesn’t own the code, the product or messaging, but once you touch the customer, you can take what the customer is saying back to the other departments. If a customer tells you a problem, it’s your job to take that problem to the business, and potentially increase revenue as a result.
Organic growth occurs when there is no friction. Look at a disruptive company like Netflix. You never contact Netflix support, and you don’t have friction. Everything slows down if you don’t eliminate friction.
Never Let a Good Crisis Go to Waste
It was overwhelmingly agreed that baseline tickets were rising and that it was important to remove friction between product, engineering and support. In a recent report by Kustomer, How the Pandemic is Affecting Customer Service Organizations, the data mirrors the conversations at the Speakeasy. Our study found that 79% of customer service teams have been significantly impacted by COVID-19, while only 1% reported no change at all. Of the customer service representatives surveyed, 48% observed longer wait times for their customers, 39% reported a lack of resources and 64% said they needed greater efficiencies. According to reports, inquiries are up across phone, email, web and social media channels.
In order to address this, Brad Birnbaum, Kustomer CEO, recommends leveraging technology that can “automate low level support with the help of AI.” This allows a greater number of customers to be served immediately, while freeing up agents to deal with more-complex issues — and 57% of respondents said they were seeing more of these than normal.
To reiterate a comment from one of our CX leaders, “Never let a good crisis go to waste!”
Your Top Ten Takeaways
1. Do a better job of capturing feedback and delivering to the product team
2. Build a strong product team for better customer experience
3. Reduce CX costs by 50% under the notion of do no harm to the business
4. Offer personal value-based services
5. Innovate support solutions like an effortless experience
6. Improve the bottom line AND customer satisfaction
7. Improve knowledge of the product and industry across the company
8. Hire people with industry-specific knowledge
9. Implement self-service as customers want to serve themselves
10. Use all the data you have to make support an effortless experience
One of the biggest challenges for contact centers and customer service departments is convoluted systems. According to CCW Digital research, two of the top five areas for improvement include agents spending too much time on low-value work and the absence of a 360-degree customer view.
When customer service agents don’t have a 360-degree customer view, they spend excess time navigating applications and databases trying to manually find customer information and history, which is frustrating and inefficient for both employees and customers. However, with the right technology, it doesn’t have to be that way. Read on to learn why.
Tap Into the Power of a Centralized CRM
Building a 360-degree customer view is dependent upon giving our front-line employees and customer service agents the tools they need to see customer history, route inquiries accordingly, and find solutions seamlessly through an efficient customer relationship management (CRM) platform.
As seen in a recent CCW Digital webinar, during a peak in the pandemic, customer contact volume increased ten fold, while agent capacity decreased 20%, call duration increased 62%, wait times increased by 27 minutes, and as you would guess, customer satisfaction decreased — by roughly 28%.
As customer volume increases and agent capacity decreases, friction is brought into the customer experience, exposing an unforgiving area for improvement in the contact center — the vast majority of CRMs being used are not getting the job done. Simply put, customer service departments around the globe are losing customers as a result of poor management and technology.
Specifically, incorrect and incomplete data means longer wait times, less ability to predict needs, and less ability to personalize interactions.
We’ve seen an uptick in digital channel utilization which means you have more touch points and data sources to aggregate customer history, and therefore a greater need for an omnichannel CRM.
The only way to alleviate the friction in the customer experience is to create a more efficient process, reducing the amount of applications agents need to record and access customer information, and resolve problems by using a single, unified, and actionable customer service CRM.
Increase Efficiency and Personalization Through AI and ML
AI can help you better glean insights from your data at scale. Then it can be used to improve routing and provide agents with real-time guidance and recommendations, thereby increasing their ability to “see” and “use” their 360-degree view.
AI and machine learning (ML) have the ability to improve the precision and speed of service by automating repetitive, manual tasks as well as your most complex business processes. For instance, high-volume conversation traffic could be intelligently routed to the most appropriate agent, loyal customers could be prioritized, and agents can quickly deliver standardized responses when appropriate.
With Robotic Process Automation (RPA), AI can simulate human actions to complete repetitive and rule-based tasks and processes. RPA can allow chatbots to fully complete a customer conversation without the need to escalate to a human agent, as well as provide the customer with more self-service opportunities by tapping into appropriate backend datta. This makes agents more efficient, freeing up their time for complex and proactive support, and gives customers more accurate information quickly.
Let’s take a closer look at chatbots. They are growing in popularity with both businesses and consumers, and can be used to collect initial information, provide responses to simple questions, and even complete standard tasks like initiating a return or answering an order status question. While there is always fear of losing personalization when using AI, ML, or automation, with the right platform, businesses can actually do the opposite.
If a business leverages customer data properly and gives the chatbot a 360-degree customer view, chatbots can 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. Of course, if needed, once the customer experience requires a transfer to an agent, automation can route the customer to the right agent, best equipped to solve the problem, and transfer all of that data into the agent’s view.
Want to learn more strategies to deliver standout customer service through a 360-degree customer view? Download CCW’s latest report here, filled with insights from Kustomer CEO Brad Birnbaum and NYT bestselling author Shep Hyken.
In this episode of Customer Service Secrets, Gabe is joined by CloudTask CEO, Amir Reiter, and VP of Marketing, Tom Jenkins, to discuss outsourcing and how to adapt in today’s dynamic markets. CloudTask is an outsourced sales organization that allows leaders to focus on scaling their businesses while giving them the ability to hire state-of-the-art sales and customer success support teams, on demand 24/7. Both guests are committed to providing the right tools organizations need to create wow-worthy support and thrive in the digital landscape. For great insights on the benefits of outsourcing, listen to the full podcast below.
Why Outsourcing is the Right Answer
Outsourcing is a highly discussed topic in the business world. Most of the time it is used as a tactic to save money and increase profit. To describe it generally, it’s when outside experts help build your business or processes. The better the business processes and training programs are, the easier and more effective outsourcing can be. Amir ties together outsourcing and customer service by saying, “We’re seeing an influx of inquiries now because people aren’t prepared for remote customer support. And I think whether or not you outsource or don’t outsource, if you build a solid training program and a solid repeatable process, it’s just a matter of having smart people who represent your company the right way.” While outsourcing can potentially benefit multiple areas of a company, it’s most important to focus your efforts on having a repeatable process and a good training program.
Outsourcing That Works
Once businesses decide that they are going to outsource, it’s usually difficult to determine which company/individual to hire. To assist in this decision making process, Amir and Tom mention two things. First, you need to have a good grasp on your company and its purpose to ensure that the other company will mesh with yours. Amir states, “Look for culture that matches yours. Look for teammates that you enjoy working with. Look for a company that adds value, that has experience and can bring their experience to the table, whether it comes to training, processes, technology, templates.”
In addition to that, to make sure outsourcing is effective, it’s important to remember that outsourced people are still part of the team. Tom adds, “I’d say even though it is outsourcing as well, still think of it, it’s your team. We just join your organization. The closer we work together, the better the results are going to be. We love it when people come to our offices, people bring their own trainers or even their account managers. And you know, we go hiking, we go out for dinner afterwards. The closer we work together the better the results are going to be.” In other words, make sure that outsourced individuals connect with your company and feel like they’re a part of the team. When you do that productivity will increase and the team will have a positive experience overall.
The Importance of Empathy
In a more serious and sensitive tone, Amir and Tom also go into the current COVID-19 pandemic and discuss how it is affecting the B2B, B2C relationships. They discuss the importance of empathy, understanding, community, and a balance between life and work. Understanding your team and culture will help increase the desire to understand the customer. Tom explains:
It’s about understanding what exactly is going on, both in your business, but also in your life and how you can support, again, not just through your business, but everybody is looking to each other to create more community. And the more community you create, the better it’s going to be for your business. That’s not why you want them to do it. You know, you want to do it because we’re human beings and we want to support each other. The more human you are, the more everybody is going to benefit; business and life.
Community and empathy are essential characteristics of a business that wants to grow quickly and authentically. Outsourcing the right way is going to help businesses scale while delivering on customers’ expectations. To learn more about Amir Reiter, Tom Jenkins, CloudTask and outsourcing, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.
You can also listen and subscribe to our podcast here:
Full Episode Transcript:
Bring in the Experts: Why Outsource Your Customer Service Team With Amir Reiter & Tom Jenkins
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer.
Gabe Larsen: (00:10)
Alright welcome everybody. Today we’re going to be talking about, I think it will be a fun topic, we’re going to talk a little bit big picture about what’s going on in the current environment. How companies B2C and B2B look at customer service differently. Then we’re going to hone in on this idea of outsourcing. How should you be thinking about your outsourced customer service strategy? Why do it? Why not do it? Some of the challenges. To do that we’ve got two gentlemen joining us. We’ve got VP of marketing, Tom Jenkins coming from CloudTask and then we’ve got CEO, Amir Reiter, from CloudTask. Guys, thanks for joining and how are you? Amir let’s start with you.
Amir Reiter: (00:47)
We’re good. It could be better circumstances globally, but we’re good. We’re good. I’m in Miami. Tom is in Hawaii at nighttime.
Tom Jenkins: (00:59)
I’m not in Rio de Janeiro on the beach. I’m down in Medallín, Columbia. I’m looking forward to the recording.
Gabe Larsen: (01:09)
Yeah. Yeah. I think this will be fun. I mean all of us wish it was, good point Amir, under a little different circumstances, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do. Before we dive in, let’s have each of you just tell us just a little more about yourself and then maybe a little more about CloudTask. Amir, let’s start with you again. So tell us a little bit more about yourself and what you guys do over there.
Amir Reiter: (01:25)
Yeah, so I’m the CEO and founder of CloudTask and we are all about allowing leaders to focus on their business and I give them the ability to hire sales, customer success support teams, on demand 24/7, multi language. And we partner with amazing technologies like Kustomer and other great tecs and sales and customer success space so we can enable best of breed, customer support, sales, and success functions.
Gabe Larsen: (01:51)
I love it. I love it. Tom, tell us a little bit about yourself. We’ve got now a little bit on CloudTask, what would you add to that or in your background?
Tom Jenkins: (01:58)
Yeah, so my background, I head the marketing team here at CloudTask, great company, great culture, been here two and a half years and yeah, I think Amir did a pretty good job explaining who we are. We’re just here to help other businesses scale and grow and yeah, I’m enjoying being part of that journey.
Gabe Larsen: (02:16)
Love it. Love it. Well, let’s dive into the talk track you guys. So, and Amir, let’s start with you. We were talking pre about this, I think it’s an interesting idea. Why B2C has made the investment in customer support and why B2B has been lagging a little bit?
Amir Reiter: (02:30)
I think it’s in the easy answer, right? I think the consumer in B2C has a voice. “I didn’t get my diet pills in 24 hours and I’m going to complain on chat and scream and kick and scream and I’m never going to buy from you again. I’m going to leave a review right now in real time.” Right? So I think the consumer has a louder voice in B2C and they’re quicker to share their voice. And I think B2B, it’s driven differently, right? It’s not necessarily transactional on small items where reviews can make a difference. It’s more longer agreements, contracts where somebody that signed a contract might not be there in six months, right. You could sign a million dollar contract and you can leave a company tomorrow. Right? And companies that have been growing really fast in B2B spaces have been fueled by a lot of VC money and their goals are not necessarily NPS scores. It’s kind of revenue. Now, it’s become a much more of a player in B2B because there are review sites like G2 Crowd and Capterra and —
Gabe Larsen: (03:43)
[inaudible] getting a little more empowered. Right?
Amir Reiter: (03:45)
It’s catching up. Right? But that’s my opinion why. What do you think Tom?
Gabe Larsen: (03:52)
Tom, yeah. What would you add to it man?
Tom Jenkins: (03:53)
Yeah, I’d definitely say it’s a volume thing that definitely comes into it. And B2C tends to be doing much larger numbers. And then for the needs to invest in customer support was immediately more obvious. I certainly wouldn’t say more necessary because usually in B2B — well, not always, but that tends to be low volume, higher cost. But you know, at the end of the day, the revenue’s the same. At the end of the day a customer is still a person, whether it’s a business, it’s still an account manager, a sales rep, the support manager there. And they still need to be treated the same way. But it just feels like because it is a business there’s that kind of, I guess, lower level of empathy maybe. That’s really changed in the last few years and B2B’s really started to catch on as well.
Gabe Larsen: (04:43)
I agree. I agree. Some of those points –that definitely resonates with me. I’ve experienced both in a major way. What do you guys feel like, again I just want to stay a little high level and then let’s dive into outsourcing, but certainly time’s changing for B2C and B2B. What are you seeing going on and how can companies react most effectively to somehow maintain some semblance of success or whatever’s kind of going on here. Tom, we’ll start with you.
Tom Jenkins: (05:11)
Yeah. The first thing is just understanding that we’re all in this together. There’s nobody who’s not affected by this global situation. And it’s just really engaging with people, getting on the phone, coming back to that empathy again, it’s no longer about, “Oh, can I have a meeting? Can I have some more money? Can I have the renewal?” No. It’s about understanding what exactly is going on, both in your business, but also in your life and how you can support, again, not just through your business, but everybody is looking to each other to create more community. And the more community you create, the better it’s going to be for your business. That’s not why you want them to do it. You know, you want to do it because we’re human beings and we want to support each other. The more human you are, the more everybody is going to benefit; business and life.
Gabe Larsen: (06:03)
I love it. Amir, anything you’d add, kind of trends you’re seeing, ways people are handling all the changes?
Amir Reiter: (06:08)
Well, either changes, you know, when you bring up the topic changes you think of the current situation, changes in B2B and B2C support in general. Tom talked about the current environment. Let’s talk about two weeks prior to what’s happening, just B2B and B2C. I think one of the big changes we’ve seen in the last year was this concept of sales chat, right? And, “Oh my God, there are sales chats and sales engine, and we’re making money with sales chat.” But what we got to see from behind the scenes was that a lot of the sales chat people were customer support issues. And a lot of those customer support issues well, they were sales opportunities. So what’s the real change? It’s just that people kind of took a concept that probably existed for a long time and realized that, “Hey, we’re impatient and if we can talk to a human being on a website live, we like that.” Right? And we do like that, right? If I just had a customer support experience with Namecheap, I was about to buy domains and I got locked out because my credit card was declined. And then they asked me to unlock it, they said, “What’s the last four digits of your credit card?” And I said, “I’m freaking locked out because of the credit card, there’s no credit card. How am I going to know the last four digits of my credit card that locked me out?” And I had to wait for like 10 minutes for a response, because it was clear that the person was handling multiple chats. I didn’t like that because I got timed out and I had to start over a couple of times. So I think people realize that, “Hey, live chat is great, having support’s amazing, but they’re trying to always find that ratio of person to support case and what happens to support is support doesn’t look that as money generating, sometimes it’s given less resources. And I think if we look at — this is like a wish for me, right? — I think that if we can learn how to make chat support, or support people also salespeople, but not by selling and closing deals, but just by having answers, I think we can invest more in support and have more efficiency because I like to talk to the same person about maybe buying a new domain and a new problem.
Gabe Larsen: (08:19)
Amir Reiter: (08:21)
That’s just me.
Gabe Larsen: (08:22)
That was kind of the talk of the town, right? Chat? And how we can use that deflection, being smarter, some automation. Let’s use that to dovetail into some of these conversations about outsourcing. I mean, that’s one of the things you guys have specialized in. You obviously help companies think through that. Maybe just again, on this topic, start a little more bigger picture. Why would I, as a company even start down this path? Why outsource my service center versus going inhouse?
Amir Reiter: (08:50)
That’s a good question. I think I want to answer that question, not from the lenses of CloudTask, right? I think I’m going to answer that question from the point of outsourcing and BPOs have been around for a very long time, and they’ve been around for a long time for the enterprise, right? The airlines, the big banks, right? The people who have thousands of employees. And I think whether you outsource or don’t outsource, it all comes down to having a repeatable process and having an amazing training program. Right? And if you look at the world, what’s happened recently and how everyone’s remote, you know, we’re seeing an influx of inquiries now because people aren’t prepared for remote customer support. And I think whether or not you outsource or don’t outsource, if you build a solid training program and a solid repeatable process, it’s just a matter of having smart people who represent your company the right way. And that could be through an outsource BPL, that could be people you’re hiring remotely. That could be W2’s and trainer leave. But if you have that culture of treating everybody the same internally and putting benchmarks so that everyone’s competing for the common good of a customer’s experience, I think companies win. But I’m a fan of even a blended workforce.
Amir Reiter: (10:03)
I think for me, for us, you know, we’re an outsource sales organization and we have an outsourced marketing person who helps us and he’s Tom’s best friend. So — and I also have an outsourced CFO. So we kind of preach what we saw in the sense that — find people that you mesh well with, who show up every day and who work with you and the type of engagement starts to fade away, I think.
Gabe Larsen: (10:30)
Yeah. I like that. I like that. I want to ask a follow up, but Tom, anything else you’d add or you see it slightly different?
Tom Jenkins: (10:36)
Yeah. I may have touched on it. And a big thing is the processes, especially when a lot of companies now are suddenly having to ramp up their teams really quickly. And usually when you work with an outsource provider, they’ve been there and done it over a number of years and they tweak the processes to a number of different industries, organizations, groups. And of course it still needs to be about your organization. So they are specialized to work with you to do that. As when you’re doing it first hand yourself, even if you’ve had a team for a while and suddenly have to expand it, it’s a lot of the time about not reinventing the wheel, just going with a process that you know works and there’s proof of it.
Gabe Larsen: (11:22)
Got it. And then this training thing. I mean, you hit on it, telling me you’re reinforcing it just a little bit, but is that kind of the thing that people don’t have the most of?
Amir Reiter: (11:30)
Oh my God, that’s what they really tell you when they say, I don’t want to outsource. They’re basically like, I have not invested in a full time training department and I am more comfortable looking over someone’s shoulder, which they never really do because you don’t really have time to look over somebody’s shoulder, but that has been the number one underlying objection that I have felt. And I get it, right? I think it’s hard for a leader to be like, “Hey, like I don’t have state of the art training program. And that’s why I’m scared of working with you guys.” It’s a lot easier to say, “I just don’t outsource.” Right? But that’s kind of what I’ve seen, but I think that —
Gabe Larsen: (12:02)
And what does a state of the art training —
Amir Reiter: (12:04)
I’m glad you asked.
Gabe Larsen: (12:08)
What does that look like? And Tom, you can add in on this one. Amir, go.
Amir Reiter: (12:12)
Yeah. I would say a training program that is nimble and changes with the influx of the class that comes in. An ongoing program that supports and rewards reps for taking part in advanced training on an ongoing process. And that’s just like from high level.
Gabe Larsen: (12:32)
Got it. Got it. Tom, what would you add to that?
Tom Jenkins: (12:34)
Yeah. And ultimately it comes down to having an awesome training team as well. Making– because we’ve all sat through training where it’s like death by PowerPoint, having trainers who really know how to keep things fun, light, and make sure everybody’s chipping in and getting engaged and doing. That’s when knowledge is maintained. And then having live coaching as well. It’s not just go train, go and do your thing. You need people, you need the managers, QAing calls listening in saying what’s working, what’s not, and constantly kind of having those little incremental gains to keep improving.
Gabe Larsen: (13:15)
Yeah. It is. People are thinking about outsourcing. If you had to leave them with a couple of pieces of advice, what would be — You know, “Should I outsource? Should I keep my team?” What would you leave them with Amir? Best practice, advice, takeaways, tips, tricks?
Amir Reiter: (13:33)
Look for culture that matches yours. Look for teammates that you enjoy working with. Look for, look for a company that adds value, that has experience and can bring their experience to the table, whether it comes to training, processes, technology, templates. And look to take the word outsource and save money out of your mind. That’s a byproduct. Look at outsource as in, I’m bringing in experts. And when those experts work with me, I gain those expertise and if they have something that I don’t have I’m going to tell them — and that’d be my biggest takeaway.
Gabe Larsen: (14:04)
I love it. I love it. Tom, what would you, from an advice perspective or people who are considering going one way or another?
Tom Jenkins: (14:11)
Yeah. I’d say even though it is outsourcing as well still think of it, it’s your team. We just join your organization. The closer we work together, the better the results are going to be. We love it when people come to our offices, people bring their own trainers in or even their account managers. And you know, we go hiking, we go out for dinner afterwards. The closer we work together the better the results are going to be.
Amir Reiter: (14:37)
Unfortunately the days of working for a Boeing and retiring at a Boeing are over and employees are moving around for organization, organization and you’d be very surprised. You can have a teammate who’s internal, who’s there 10 years. You can have a rep who’s representing a company through an outsource agreement who is there for 10 years. Right? It’s no more black and white, I think, as it used to be.
Gabe Larsen: (14:59)
Yeah. Yeah. Do you, one last question before I let you guys go, you kind of hit on this Amir and I’m just curious. There has been a lot of outsource companies, a lot of, been a lot of BPOs over the years. What would separate different BPOs? Is it their technology stack? Is it their training? You mentioned the training being a big differentiator, really important. How would someone start to navigate just thinking, “Oh, Gabe, there’s so many of these. I don’t know how to choose.”
Amir Reiter: (15:25)
I think the ones that have been around for 30 years will have the money on the balance sheet, the certifications through the roof, but they will lack with culture being nimble and technology. And then younger ones will be very quick. They’re the ones on podcasts with technologies like Kustomer. And so it’s just like you can imagine, right? I think you’ll find that younger BPOs will be more nimble. There’ll be more reading the articles about artificial intelligence automation while the big ones will be like, that scares me. We’ve got $4 billion in business and this is how we’ve been doing it for 30 years. And that works for some organizations, it doesn’t work for others that move quickly. So find a company that matches your size, your speed, how they’re invested, they’re invested like you, you guys are both bootstrapped.
Gabe Larsen: (16:10)
I like that.
Amir Reiter: (16:12)
Private equity backed. Right. It feels good. It feels like a natural fit.
Gabe Larsen: (16:15)
Yeah. Anything you’d add to that Tom?
Tom Jenkins: (16:17)
Yeah. Most people are outsourcing now. So understand what they’re currently doing, get peer reviews, check out the reviews online on G2, for example, and just speak to a few different teams. Find the one you like the most and give it a shot. And I’m sure they’ll work.
Gabe Larsen: (16:41)
I love it. I love it. All right you guys, well really fun talk track. I think it’s very pertinent, especially as we’re all working remotely and times have certainly changed and I think people are probably more open to just doing things different. So I think it’s a very timely discussion around B2B, B2C, but also, and then this kind of remote and outsource workforce. If someone wants to learn more about you guys, CloudTask, what’s the best way to do that or get a hold of your, or kind of see what you guys are all about?
Amir Reiter: (17:06)
We’ve got live chat on our website, or you can find me on LinkedIn Amir Reiter, real easy to find. And Tom, Tom is everywhere.
Tom Jenkins: (17:16)
We are everywhere, social, cloudtask.com, LinkedIn.
Amir Reiter: (17:19)
Wherever the social cause in the world that’s where Tom is.
Gabe Larsen: (17:22)
That’s where Tom is. All right. Well, I think that’s good. Really appreciate you guys taking the time and for the audience, I hope you enjoy the rest of your day.
Amir Reiter: (17:29)
Tom Jenkins: (17:29)
Thanks so much.
Exit Voice: (17:37)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you subscribe to hear more customer service secrets.
In this episode of Customer Service Secrets, Gabe Larsen is joined with a long time friend, Steve Richards, to discuss Customer quality and assurance and how to best train customer service reps. Steve is the co-founder of ExecVision and he has founded other sales performance improvement companies. Throughout his career, he’s been committed to helping companies continually improve by understanding the data and the customer experience. Listen to the full podcast below for his valuable insights on how companies can transform their agents into a revenue center.
Data is Not The Issue
To start the conversation, Steve makes it very clear that companies don’t need more data to enhance customer service. Most companies do an exceptional job of collecting the necessary data that they need to start the improvement process. It is in analyzing and applying the data where companies typically miss the mark. Steve notes that just measuring to measure and having data is not going to help improve the situation. He states, “In the organizations…who do a much better job, they kind of close what we call insights-to-performance gap. So what they’re doing is they take all the data and then they use that data and they actually take action based on it to change something.” If companies gathered the data with an understanding of how to use it, they will be able to make a continuous improvement around the actual engagement, the interaction that’s happening with the customer.
Make Sure Your Agents Have the Resources to Improve
When it comes to QA, or quality assurance, a lot of analytical work is happening to ensure that the customer service experience is as good as it can be. QA tools record phone calls, conduct surveys and collect a lot of data about how to improve the experience. However, this information isn’t being translated to the very people it concerns, the agents themselves. Steve mentions, “People value more what they conclude for themselves than what they’re told. So if you actually want to get someone … to change their behavior — if we can get them to … listen to one or two of their own calls per week, they’re going to hear things, they’re going to change things.” Let customer service agents and reps have access to the QA data, such as their recorded phone calls, and they will start noticing ways they can improve.
The Steps to an Effective Customer Service Call
On several occasions, customer service reps will be asked to follow a script when answering calls. This can often leave the customer unhappy or unsatisfied with the service. However, there are still resources that the rep needs to use to solve problems. To make sure that the reps get the required information and that the customer feels good about the service they’re getting, Steve suggests viewing phone calls as a jazz musical composition. “It’s not a script, but we also don’t let them wing it. So we’re going to give them … the notes you have to hit in the piece, and then everything else you do around it, bring your personality.”
With that in mind, Steve also shares the important notes that must be hit to make the call effective. The first important notes are the beginning and the ending of the call. Making sure that the rep opens with a kind, confident, and consistent greeting and ends the call with a definitive action plan and customer appreciation. Secondly, practice active listening. Steve states, “The empathy, the active listening, and not doing it in such a way where you’re essentially caving. It’s like you have a backbone. You’re looking at the eye of the person, not physically, but you get the idea. As a peer and you’re paraphrasing what they said, making sure you understand, clarifying what they said…” The last important note to hit for an effective customer service call is simply not putting the customer on hold for too long. Timeliness is one of the best things to train your reps on and it will make a big difference.
To learn more about QA and customer service rep training, check out the Customer Service Secrets podcast episode, and be sure to subscribe for new episodes each Thursday.
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Full Episode Transcript:
How to Coach Your Customer Service Reps to Drive Actual Performance with Steve Richards
Intro Voice: (00:04)
You’re listening to the Customer Service Secrets Podcast by Kustomer
Gabe Larsen: (00:11)
Alright welcome everybody. We’re going to dive in today. We’re going to be talking about customer experience, something a little different, a different aspect, really how to escape the insights-to-performance gap, all based on the customer experience customer service world. To do that we brought in co-founder of ExecVision Steve Richards. Steve, thanks for joining man and how are you?
Steve Richards: (00:32)
I’m doing great Gabe thanks for having me here.
Gabe Larsen: (00:35)
Yeah, it’s funny, Steve and I go way back. It’s been years, man. It’s probably been almost a decade, hasn’t it?
Steve Richards: (00:40)
I’m used to the salespeople and its kind of a little bit of a different world here going into call centers with CX. So, yeah, we’re having fun together.
Gabe Larsen: (00:49)
Yeah. But definitely knows his stuff when it comes to coaching, training, and I think using audio to really help people do their job better. Tell us a little bit about yourself and ExecVision before we jump in.
Steve Richards: (01:04)
Yeah, sure. So, I’m a founder of various sales performance improvement companies over the years. Somebody that does outsourced appointment, setting a sales training business, but really what we were seeing that was missing and we were looking at why do some people have so much more success in actually creating revenue? I will tie that back to CX later on. And a big thing is they had a culture of continuous improvement around the actual engagement, the interaction that’s happening with the customer. Usually, it’s a voice conversation, but it certainly is also a text conversation, SMS, email, other communication channels, but they had this kind of feedback loop. Our great mentor, Ken Krogue used to call it the brief debrief. You know, they prepare in advance. They do their job throughout the day. Then they go and they debrief afterward and they have a continuous improvement or kaizen loop. So I’ve, I’ve been committing my life professionally to helping companies figure that out.
Gabe Larsen: (02:00)
I love it, man. That’s a great intro. I love the shout out to good ol’ Ken Krogue. I need to reach back out to him. You move away from somebody and then all of a sudden you don’t talk to them. He’s such a good person. Such —
Steve Richards: (02:14)
Gabe Larsen: (02:16)
Well let’s start big picture. Customer experience, customer service, what’s broken? Paint me — I mean, you’re in this all the time. Where are you seeing some of the fractions, the areas that are not working?
Steve Richards: (02:29)
Yeah, so the thing is with customer experience, so many call centers and contact centers have done a lot — omni-channel communication, they’ve done a lot to be able to measure and understand more what’s going on within customer experience right now. So I think what happened previously is NPS and C-SAT, and everyone’s been doing first call resolution for average handle time, for average, forever, hold times, all those kinds of things. They’ve got that. So the data’s there. I don’t think there’s anybody out there, there are very few out there that can’t say, well, we have data on our customer experience. Would you agree with that?
Gabe Larsen: (03:07)
Yeah. I mean, it seems like the data — I mean, I don’t know if it’s the right type of data, but there is a lot of data out there, right? I mean —
Steve Richards: (03:16)
Well said. Certainly, there’s a lot of opportunities for making sure we’re looking at the right types of data. And really the point of view we’re coming at is you have got the data on one side, it’s almost like there’s a canyon or a chasm that happens here. So you’ve got the data. How do you actually get that data to translate into agent performance or rep performance? Everybody calls them something different, agents, reps, et cetera, [inaudible] specialists. But really, when you think about it, it’s collecting all the data. The whole point, why do you measure a sprinter? Why do you time a skier? Why do we do these things? And the answer is to improve performance, to get even better.
Gabe Larsen: (03:54)
But it is funny, right? I mean, oftentimes we will — I mean, I get caught into this. You start measuring to measure and you’re not actually looking at how it can potentially affect the ultimate performance. So yeah, that probably as a bigger problem than you think.
Steve Richards: (04:09)
That’s it. In the organizations we’re seeing who do a much better job, they kind of close what we call insights-to-performance gap. So what they’re doing is they take all the data and then they use that data and they actually take action based on it to change something. Certainly some things could be around the processes and the systems of engaging with customers, different communication channels. I’ve mentioned things like SMS before and things like that. And then also at the same time, it’s what are our agents and reps saying? Now, I think the thing that some people might be thinking is, well, QA. Well we’ve had QA forever, quality assurance. We’ve got folks that do call listening, they do some call scoring, they do auto failing of calls. The thing that I’ve learned, Gabe, and it’s been fascinating going from a predominantly inside sales lens and going into the call center where there is no QA and inside sales typically and there really is in a call center, is the people. The reps frequently view the QA folks, almost like the cops, like it’s the police because they’re — and their language, think about their language. They’re looking for infractions, they’re auto failing. The QA, in most cases, the QA people sit like over there in the corner. It’s almost like the wizard of Oz behind the curtain. And everybody else is out here and whenever the QA team distributes a report, usually it’s, it’s the bad dog report, you know, “bad dog, you peed on the sofa, go outside.” And in many cases, they actually get their comp taken from them. I’ve seen a lot of organizations where people will get docked if they have to have a sales KPI or a revenue-generating KPI or offer a product, they’ll lose the variable component of their comp because their call was not compliant. It wasn’t done in a compliant manner, according to their — whatever the compliance department requires. Do you see what I mean?
Gabe Larsen: (06:00)
And that’s probably — I mean, when we were first dipping in inside sales back in 2000, we were playing a little bit of the call center space with the in contact, way back when, but that sounds like QA hasn’t changed much from when I was playing with it 20 years ago.
Steve Richards: (06:20)
And Gabe, to be fair, just to interrupt. They want to. I don’t think it’s a question of the QA people not having the best interest of the business or the agents or the customers or the customer experience. It’s just that QA is one of those processes that it makes me scratch my head. I get a kick out of it. You and I have seen this. The process was what evolved over time, based on the resources they had. And when a QA function really just has a big pile of call recordings or nothing else, or maybe they have some speech analytics and nothing else, they do what they can do. They do things like random sampling. They spend a lot of time listening to dead air or calls that really are not scorable or coachable anyway. And as a result of that, they had to create all these kinds of crazy Rube Goldberg machines around this to ultimately improve agent performance. But along the way, that vision was never really achieved. And instead, it turned into like the infractions department,
Gabe Larsen: (07:18)
But, I’ve got to give them credit because I don’t mean — Steve and I share such a history you guys, you’re going to have to be patient as we [inaudible] sometimes, but at least they’re doing it. I mean, you look at the sales space and that’s like, people are acting like listening to, doing QA or listening to calls that was something revolutionary and brand new. So kudos that they’ve at least been, I think, going down that path and trying to listen, because the idea of listening to that real-time game film, whatever space you’re in, service, success, sales, it’s important. I mean, I think we need to hear it so kudos that it is happening. So where do you then find as you think about that traditional QA, be a little more black and white, how is that starting to branch out then? Where are some of the areas that they’re starting to kind of say, “Hey, how do we make this a little better?” And what does that look like?
Steve Richards: (08:09)
They want, so QA wants to be more involved in the process of actually seeing the business metrics improve.
Gabe Larsen: (08:16)
Got it. Okay. Yeah.
Steve Richards: (08:18)
And that’s —
Gabe Larsen: (08:18)
The tie in we were talking about.
Steve Richards: (08:21)
There’s the tie in. So they’re aware of that. Most of the time they’re actually, they’re not usually measured on NPS or customer satisfaction or those other metrics we talked about before they’re aligned with customer experience. They’re usually measured basically on the number of calls we’re able to score. They’re hitting their SLA, their departmental SLA to the rest of the business. But most of them spiritual, in their hearts and in their minds, they want to be doing more. And I think the other thing that’s changed is if you go to the average call center and contact center, you sit with the average agent on the phone. And I don’t care if they’re taking inbound calls or making outbound calls. What you’re gonna find is the vast majority of them never have an opportunity to even hear one of their own calls or anybody else’s calls to try to sharpen the saw or improved performance and it turns into a little bit of a hamster wheel and a little bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. So what happens is their supervisor will get the recorded call with the report from QA and usually there’s some infractions and maybe some areas of opportunity. Now, if they’re kind of busy doing their thing trying to service the customer or provide support, and then maybe offer an upsell or offer an additional product, maybe try to stop a cancellation. They’re so busy doing that they never have an opportunity to actually absorb what that is. But even more importantly, I think Gabe, is that people value more what they conclude for themselves more than what they’re told. So if you actually want to get someone — a human being, if you want to get a person to change their behavior, if we can get them to, even if they listen to one or two of their own calls per week, they’re going to hear things, they’re going to change things. And certainly, a supervisor is much better suited to do that with them than if they just simply get a report of what happened.
Gabe Larsen: (10:01)
Yeah. So yeah. It has been a lot of people in the corner listening and throwing over a report that doesn’t feel — I’m not –you teach me how to fish, you give him a fish type of thing. If they can see it, taste it and touch it one, the reps will be more important.
Gabe Larsen: (10:16)
But two, we then start to tie that QA into something that might be a little more directly tied to ultimately the business outcomes that the people want. So how do you start to move down this path? How do you make that happen?
Steve Richards: (10:32)
Yeah. And I’ll give you a tie back to Kustomer to what you do. And obviously this is not about what our respective technologies do, but if you’re thinking about customer service re-imagined, and if you’re thinking about personalizing that experience and providing that real-time information to the folks that are doing the service support, selling, et cetera, then, really the last mile, if you think about it, with that in place, the last mile is, well, what are they actually saying? What are they doing? What does that communication sound like? Because there’s a lot of different research that shows that the most important part of the customer experience, the thing that’s the most memorable, the things that show up on the feedback surveys is when the customer interacts with one of your reps or agents. And it can have a tremendous impact on having a lifelong customer versus a churn customer or someone who tells your friends, because they’re such a net promoter, they’re telling everybody, you gotta sign up for X. And so what we find is that we have to start number one with defining, what does good look like? What are our, not scripts per se? I mean, there certainly are scripts. Really the way to think about it is more like jazz. When you hit the notes in the composition. I heard that one time Gabe, it stuck with me. I love that. I think it was a speaker at the Inside Sales Association who told me. It’s not a script, but we also don’t let them wing it. So we’re going to give them, really for this communication type, for this call type, these are the notes you have to hit in the piece, and then everything else you do around it, bring your personality. Bring your personality. That’s number one. Number two, you have to have a method or a system to understand, are they doing it? Are our agents doing these things according to hitting the notes. So if they’re hitting the notes and all the rest of their metrics are good, fine. If they’re not hitting the notes, then we know we have to go in and change that behavior. So we need to automatically surface these, if you will, coachable moments. And that’s an interesting thing because in the call center or contact center, the term “coachable moments,” I don’t think it’s as prevalent as sales. So I think that what you and I have experienced, I think that call centers are way ahead of us in terms of QA and quality. I think that sales, in general, has kind of been better about at least having a focus on the coaching of the person and the coaching of the communication.
Gabe Larsen: (12:56)
The time and the results yeah, probably. Yeah.
Steve Richards: (13:00)
And then you’ve got to see it through. You’ve got to track the performance improvement. So whatever it is they’re trying to change or improve, let’s see how that score for that item increases over time.
Gabe Larsen: (13:15)
Steve Richards: (13:16)
See what I mean? And that’s it. That’s the full circle. Ken Krogue, right? Brief, execution. It’s from the book Flawless Execution, the Navy fighter pilots where they brief before they go and do a mission, then they have the mission. And then later on they debrief and the way that they describe it in the book is that they all get into a debrief room and it doesn’t matter what your rank is, it doesn’t matter who you are. If you saw something that will improve the mission for the future, we’re going to talk about it. So they, I think they symbolically take the velcro rank off of their shoulders and they put it down on the desk from what I understand.
Gabe Larsen: (13:48)
Yeah. Yeah. I think you nailed it to the T. How — are there certain things you’ve found? I like the simplicity of it, right? I mean, it is. And the tie in. You look for the right behavior, you don’t necessarily have to script it, then you follow it through, make sure it’s moving the levers you ultimately want to move. Thinking about that jazz or the notes, are there certain things that you’ve found as you’ve studied conversations or worked with different customer service or experience organizations, contact center, whatever it may be, but what are some of those notes? Is it, is it the personalization that that really is an important behavior, or thing to do or say? Is it thanking them? Any tidbits or advice there? I’m just curious if you’ve found anything.
Steve Richards: (14:31)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. For sure. So I’m going to go with, probably I’m thinking a lot of people listening to this are going to be predominantly inbound calls from a customer type of setup. So let’s talk with them first. It’s always going to be the bookends of the call are going to be really important. So it’s going to be number one, how they open the call. Is there consistency, is there confidence? Are there clear expectations set for what’s going to happen? And then of course, how they end the call and how they end the call with a definitive plan of action for resolution. If there’s still an open issue, or if they end the call based on being appreciative, showing appreciation, like you said, thanking the customer, those types of things and or offering an additional thing or asking for an additional thing. And then in the middle there are some key notes that we hear people have to hit. One of the big ones, of course, is active listening. The empathy, the active listening and not doing it in such a way where you’re essentially caving. It’s like you have a backbone. You’re looking at the eye of the person, not physically, but you get the idea as a peer and you’re paraphrasing what they said, making sure you understand, clarifying what they said, saying, “okay, let me, let me go look into this.”
Steve Richards: (15:41)
Another big one we hear is don’t put the customer on hold for a long amount of time. That’s another thing that I think plays into customers’ hands, because the reality is a lot of these call centers and contact centers, especially serve and support. The answer is not necessarily readily available. We want to try to do first call resolution. We want to try to not escalate if we can. So if we can provide that rep or agent with what they need to be successful or resources they can turn to, they can have hold times be shorter and get to the resolution sooner. Or ultimately if they have to escalate, they can know that they have to escalate and how to escalate so they can get it done faster. And I think a big thing that we also see is, we’re starting to see more and more people asking for referrals or people asking if you’re for the advocacy of the customer along the way. And that’s the cherry on top. If you did all the other things well, you’ve earned the right to try to expand your business with that customer, maybe offer them an upsell, something they’re not thinking about or a higher level of service if it’s a subscription.
Gabe Larsen: (16:43)
Yeah. That is fascinating. One more quick question on that. I mean, do you see, it does seem like a lot of people are talking about, “Hey, let’s make this not a cost center, but a revenue center.” That’s a little bit of a buzzword. So it’s like, have you figured out, are you seeing people kind of talk through, “Hey, I’ve got a contact center, but I ultimately would prefer that this is not just a cost center that’s spending all the money, but we are trying to get more referrals, upsells, cross-sells.” How do you think about that?
Steve Richards: (17:11)
Yeah. Let me tell you, I’ll tell you a quick story from a very well known, but I will remain, leave them as an unnamed company that has, it’s a retail store and they sell beer and wine and my wife’s cousin previously worked at this company. And at the time they set up a contact center to basically be a service hub for anytime someone has a party and they go into the store and they place an order, like if years later, they want to make an adjustment or all these kinds of things. And I asked him, and we talked about his measurements and pretty much all his KPIs are all the things that we’re talking about with CX, with customer experience. Um, but then I said, “Well, what, what revenue KPIs do you have? Basically, Hey man, would it be helpful if I, cause I’m having a party, should I buy from you? Like, is that good for you?” And he said, “No.” I said, “Interesting,” I said, “cause I’m seeing a theme and a trend towards, –” and it’s kind of like Gabe what you and I saw with field sales versus inside sales, kind of like retail plus the call center where you’re also going to offer them something or you’re going to, or you’re going to try to avoid churn or something like that. So most of these places aren’t set up cause he said, “Well, we can do that, but we don’t have a KPI.” So I said, “Well, if that’s the case, you don’t have a KPI. You don’t have any kind of incentive structure for the rep. Do they do it for your agents? Do your agents do it?” And he goes “A little bit, but not really.” But you know, you and I both know if you give him a comp plan if you will, or some sort of incentive — I know it doesn’t work the same way, it’s not like a variable — but it’s like, if you give them a little spiff, a performance incentive for offering something, you’re gonna bring in more business and you’re going to do it, you’re going to have an additional channel and it’s going to be a little — and sometimes that additional business gets so big, then it displaces some of the other channels.
Gabe Larsen: (18:54)
Yeah. Fascinating. Yeah. That does — that trend. That’s a little more of a side note, but that’s interesting to hear. It does seem like a lot of people are starting to try to think how do I not just do this, but I can also do that while I’ve got them here on the phone, right? Well Steve, it’s fun to have you man. It’s always fun to catch up. We talked about a lot. If you had to kind of summarize, take away, where would you end with this? Advice for the audience.
Steve Richards: (19:16)
Data is fantastic. The reason we measure is to improve performance. If you really want to improve performance and what I mean by performance is all those metrics that you look at, NPS, CSAT, all that stuff. If you want to improve that stuff, you have to understand the customer experience. You have to see it through the voice, hear the voice of the customer yourself, secret shop yourself, and then ultimately improve what the agents do and how they communicate. Because agent communication is like the sharp end of the spear. That’s one lever that most people haven’t done as good a job at pulling as they need to. And in order to get the agents better and reps better, they really have to be involved in their own development.
Gabe Larsen: (19:53)
Love it. I love it. Alright man, well if someone wants to get ahold of you, or learn a little more about ExecVision, what’s the best way to do that?
Steve Richards: (20:00)
Connect with me on LinkedIn. That’s always good. And we’ve got a lot of really good content on the insights to performance gap and call center coaching and things like that on execvision.io.
Gabe Larsen: (20:09)
Okay, well, we’ll make sure we direct people that way. So, Steve, appreciate it. For the audience, have a fantastic day.
Steve Richards: (20:15)
I’ll see you at the Rangers game at MSG all right.
Gabe Larsen: (20:18)
Exit Voice: (20:27)
Thank you for listening. Make sure you subscribe to hear more customer service secrets.
Artificial intelligence is making a major impact on customer service and shows no sign of stopping. The increased interest is warranted — Forbes contributor Kathleen Walch of Cognitive World said AI is a useful tool that’s improving customer service, enhancing customer loyalty, enabling better brand reputations and allowing customer service agents to focus on tasks of greater value that can bring companies more business.
While all of these benefits are highly advantageous for businesses, making sure customer service staff are satisfied is a critical initial step in the process. Here are four simple ways that AI chatbots can improve work-life for your customer service agents and better streamline agent experience and expectations:
1. Improved Work Efficiencies
One of the many benefits of utilizing chatbots is the ability to shift work expectations of customer service agents. As Chatbots Magazine stated, chatbots are truly the future of engagement. There are many direct questions that can be handled by way of automation, giving customer service staff the freedom to take on the more meaningful conversations within a short period of time.
2. Better Conversations With Customers
When customer service staff can focus on more important cases instead of the simple questions that AI chatbots can handle, agents have a strong role in driving business and loyalty for the company.
3. Enhanced Job Satisfaction
When customer service agents have more time to focus on complex queries and enhance the connection between customers and your company, they may find greater overall satisfaction in their work. With AI chatbots, you also have the opportunity to introduce steady, more enjoyable working hours that create work-life balance. AI-powered bots can handle the low-level inquiries during the traditional “after hours” time frame, which means you don’t have to worry about keeping staff on the clock at all hours of the day. Not only can this help with workplace satisfaction, but it can also reduce overhead costs.
4. Increased Capacity
Realistically, customer service staff can only talk to one customer at a time, making it difficult to handle more than one issue simultaneously. When AI chatbots are introduced, you can alleviate the pressure that customer service agents once felt about long queues. While this is beneficial for agents in terms of streamlined expectations, your company can still meet bottom-line goals and continue servicing all customers that contact you.
Working With Kustomer
Kustomer’s customer service CRM platform is built to meet the expectations of the customers and agents of today. With our solution, you can better manage customer inquiries and high support volume to streamline staff and company expectations. Request a demo today to learn more about our process and services.
Customer service agents provide immense value to any business. Not only are they highly knowledgeable resources that consumers can rely on to solve their issues, they also play a role in influencing purchasing decisions and building community.
The digital age, however, has made it easier for companies to rely less on human agents to answer easy questions and instead utilize artificial intelligence to get the job done, and many significant companies like LinkedIn, Starbucks and eBay are on board. The general interest in chatbots is only anticipated to grow, as Business Insider reported that the market size is projected to increase from $2.6 billion in 2019 to $9.4 billion by 2024.
The Power of Chatbots
Enabling automated, low-level service via chatbots allows your business to take these smaller inquiries off the hands of your agents, so they don’t have to work around the clock. They are able to focus on the most important cases, playing an invaluable role that drives business and loyalty.
But which questions should chatbots handle, and which should be escalated to customer service agents?
Questions for AI Chatbots
Today’s consumers love convenient interactions. AI chatbots allow for quick resolution without impacting the quality of the experience.
Questions that are simple are ones chatbots can easily handle. CXL Institute refers to these as “Tier 1” questions, which can be interpreted easily by a machine that’s loaded with information in a database. Queries regarding size availability, time and rescheduling for travel booking, as well as specific order numbers can be easily answered by chatbots. Queries regarding information that can be found on your company website are also great for chatbots to tackle, saving customer service agents time and energy that would otherwise seem wasted.
Questions for Customer Service Agents
Live chat is unmatched for some consumers. When it comes to the complex questions, we agree. For example, if a customer is interested in a certain product but wants more information and guidance down the sales funnel, an agent can address doubts, answer these specific questions and help customers make decisions. Questions that can turn into bigger issues based on communication limitations don’t work well for chatbots; customer service agents can provide sincerity in the form of understanding and humility, for example, which can improve the reputation of your business.
But AI chatbots allow you to scale your customer service and rely both on artificial intelligence and human agents to provide a quality experience for consumers. Learn more about how Kustomer can improve your customer service strategy today by requesting a demo.