It’s an exciting time to be involved the customer service and communications space. There are more ways to interact with a brand than ever before (email, Twitter, even Snapchat), but one of the most new and exciting advancements is chatbots.
Business communications have traditionally been person to person—someone answers the phone, sends an email, etc. But in recent years, business communications have started incorporating automation in their IVRs, live chats and call routing. In fact, 53.6% of contact centers today use IVRs.
However, some businesses have moved beyond using automation in their business communications—they’re using artificial intelligence. Take Slack, for instance. The popular collaboration platform uses bots to onboard users and interact with them for a variety of reasons. Narrative Science, the natural language generation platform, uses artificial intelligence to draft reports that read just like a human-written report would.
Both technological capabilities and consumer preferences are evolving faster than ever before, which amplifies the challenge organizations have as they attempt to establish and maintain competitive advantage. It is not surprising, then, that organizations of all sizes are struggling to adopt artificial intelligence and weave it into a comprehensive consumer engagement strategy.
The promise of artificial intelligence (AI) is compelling; a world where humans can interact with intelligent computers to perform tasks more efficiently. While 2016 may not be the year the promise of AI is fully realized, it is certainly the year that it becomes an integral part of communication strategies for leading organizations. In fact, these emerging capabilities are increasingly being applied to business.
This guest post is written by Erica Strother Marois, the Community Specialist at ICMI.
We’ve all been on the receiving end of poor customer service. Long wait times, annoying IVRs, unforgiving return policies, and a lack of channel options can all be maddening. And inevitably, these frustrations spill over to the front line employees. Customer service is more complex and stressful than ever, and ICMI research indicates that the industry is only growing more complicated.
What can customer service leaders do to alleviate stress and improve the customer experience? To answer that, we turn to some of the most infamous customer service failures in recent history. (After all, some of the best insight comes from the biggest failures).
As we look back on 2015, it’s tempting to refer to that age-old adage: “The more things change, the more things stay the same.”
This year, that couldn’t be further from the truth.
That’s because 2015 was the year the technology really made its presence known in customer service. Automation, artificial intelligence, social media, CRM integrations, texting–all were major customer service trends in 2015.
Today’s customer service is becoming increasingly digital—35% of interactions now take place on digital channels. In response, more and more businesses are providing support across a variety of digital channels, including but not limited to SMS, social media, and web chat. And while the use of these channels is growing rapidly, the use of digital self-service channels isn’t far behind.
Case in point: In 2011, Gartner predicted over 85% of the customer experience would be managed without a human by 2020. The industry is certainly trending in this direction—Forrester found that self-service usage increased from 67% in 2012 to 76% in 2014. If we follow Forrester’s trajectory, by the end of 2016 self-service usage could reach 84% penetration, meaning Gartner’s prediction might come even sooner than realized. But let’s take a look at where self-service is now.
Today’s self-service is becoming more and more prevalent, spreading across channels from web to voice to text to social. It’s a powerful, flexible form of service that more customers are using and businesses are adopting. In fact, over 50% of businesses today are using self-service, and 64% plan to invest in and extend it to other channels (texting, anyone?)
Self-service has been around for generations, from the advent of personal shopping in grocery stores to the global presence of ATMs. But it was really in the last quarter century that self-service hit its stride, thanks to the rise of the Internet. Customers can solve their own problems or answer their own questions thanks to the ubiquity of this technology.
People hate IVR, everything from its automated voice to its endless wait times to its frantic button mashing. In fact, only 13% of consumers think IVR is easy to use. Callers can never be sure if they’ll encounter an effective self-service tool, an ineffective self-service tool, or a call routing system. However, most experiences end the same way: with one frustrated customer.
IVRs were originally created to decrease the amount of time an agent had to be on the phone and increase conversions. Unfortunately, they didn’t do as good a job reducing the amount of time for the customer. As companies reaped the financial benefits and agents had more time to work with, customers grew increasingly dissatisfied with the IVR system. Today, only 15% of consumers think IVR use benefits them.