Customer support is one of the most critical parts of any business. Brand perception and customer loyalty are directly proportional to the quality of customer support and hence have been of focus to business owners. The systems and process in customer support have matured in the industry and is probably at a point of diminishing returns on the economics curve.
In the last couple of years, organizations have adopted a strategy of deflecting customers to self-service channels which typically are websites, mobile apps, etc. However, the volumes at customer support have not witnessed a decline. While benefits of self-service channels have proven to be instrumental in customers solving their problems without calling the call centre, increasing call volumes continue to pose a big challenge for companies across the world. To make things worse, now it is not just the calls, but customers also reach out to companies on emails, social media, and messaging apps. An increase in the number of channels is further bloating up customer support costs for businesses.
We see that bot solutions are the future of customer support. Bots can automate the entire customer conversations and are capable enough to resolve customer queries end to end. While bots have been extremely successful in closing out customers’ queries and more and more organizations are deploying the same, Phone Bots have still not gained footprint as much as they should have had so far.
Phone bot solutions have been there in the market for more than a decade. Early adopters in the US tried these solutions and have moved away from them because these solutions were detested by the customers. This was because these solutions were in their early development phase and were not able to understand customer accents and requests. Also, customers were expecting to talk to an agent to vent out their anger and they came across robots which were nowhere close to delivering a human-like experience. Over the period, three significant developments have happened. First, Alexa and Google Home have become a household thing. This has reset customer expectations and they now know how to interact with bots to get what they want. Second, these technologies have also matured to deliver a human-like experience on the calls. Third, during the ongoing pandemic, customer support departments of organizations have been fully or partially shut down and customers have struggled to connect with agents. With the resetting of customer expectations, the time is ripe for the companies to embark on the phone call automation journey.
Companies have been desperately looking to reduce their costs without impacting the NPS. Having tried something like this before they are apprehensive of adopting these technologies, but we believe there is no other choice.
In the background of business disruptions during the pandemic time, they will look to undertake risk mitigation measures which will further increase the costs for them. Phone bots are the only solution to companies’ problems. They can automate customer calls of up to 60–70% over a period, reduce the per call cost to at least one-fifth, and ensure business continuity no matter what. We see that a lot of companies will adopt Phone Bots and as competitors adopt these technologies other companies will also have to deploy Phone bots.
With Phone Bots, the calls will be first handled by the bot agents. These bot agents have the capability to authenticate users, understand the profile of users, and analyse recent interactions and accordingly drive conversations.
These systems are getting so advanced that once human accent is understood they can potentially be more effective than humans. These systems can process a massive amount of data much faster and better for conversational intelligence. Conversational intelligence can be institutionalized with Phone Bots which is extremely difficult with an army of support agents. While Phone Bots hold a lot of promise, the companies will also have to build necessary fail-safes to protect against bot failures that might pose a reputational risk. Companies must ensure a smooth handover of calls to humans in case conversations are not going well. The future of customer support will involve both bots and humans and as we progress the needle will get closer to bots as both techs mature, and consumers get used to conversing with bots.