With the advance of the internet, customer support has moved online. Live chat, chatbots, email support, and social media conversations are just some of the numerous examples of virtual customer service.
Artificial intelligence is taking customer support to a whole new level. It helps you place different customer service channels under a single platform and automate a multitude of repetitive tasks that were traditionally done by humans. For customers, this means seamless user experiences across different channels.
Does this mean we should stop using traditional customer service channels, such as call centers? The answer is NO. Many customers still value human contact more than conversations with AI bots.
Luckily, you do not need to choose between call centers and chatbots. You can combine them to improve customer support.
WHY ARE CALL CENTERS IMPORTANT?
Local customers still prefer phone calls over other customer service channels. BrightLocal did a comprehensive study and found that 60% of customers would call a company after finding them online. Moreover, 16% of customers would use email support, while only 3% of them would chat with a local brand on social networks.
No matter if you are a SaaS business or an e-commerce company, phone calls help you build personal relationships with your customers and let them know that there are real people behind your brand that are supporting them. No matter how sophisticated it is, artificial intelligence still misses the human element.
Customers are starting to notice that. According to PWC, 59% of customers believe that businesses have lost the human touch in customer service. Moreover, 71% of Americans claim they would rather talk to a human than a chatbot.
THE CHALLENGES CALL CENTERS FACE AND HOW TO OVERCOME THEM
While a call center is still the backbone of your customer support, it faces many problems, including:
- Low customer satisfaction
- Too many tools
- The lack of accurate reporting and analytics
- Employee dissatisfaction and poor performance
One of the most effective ways to improve the effectiveness of your call center is to switch from a traditional phone system to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). Unlike analog phone systems or PBX, VoIP transmits data over the internet.
VoIP enhances the quality of calls. You just need to invest in a solid internet connection. Its features, such as call routing or call queuing will help you manage your customers like a pro and connect them with the right customer service agents.
This is a cloud-based service. Many VoIP providers offer their own cloud-based apps and softphones, meaning your agents will provide unified customer service across various devices and locations.
With VoIP, you can track and collect customer information continuously, as it integrates with your CRM software. Once a lead converts into a customer, their information will already be in the system, ready for your customer support agents to use it. By getting to know their customers and their buying journeys, agents will provide personalized customer support and enhance customer experiences.
WHY YOU NEED TO COMBINE PHONE CALLS WITH CHATBOTS
When asking simple questions or expect fast fixes, online users will probably choose a chatbot over your call center. The reason for that is simple – a chatbot provides straightforward feedback in real-time, regardless of their time zone.
Based on artificial intelligence, virtual agents can assist your live customer support agents in multiple ways.
First, they can provide answers to any repetitive customer inquiries, freeing up your agents to work on more complex projects.
Second, your customer support agents will be more productive if a chatbot is whispering in their ears. For example, if there is a major discount on your website, a bot will make it prominent to your agents, letting them pass the information on to customers. Also, agents do not need to search through thousands of documents manually to find the right information – the bot will do that for them.
Third, chatbots personalize and gamify user experiences, helping them make shopping decisions faster. You could use them to ask customers questions about their needs and point them to the right products.
TRACKING AND ANALYZING CUSTOMER INTERACTIONS IS CRUCIAL
Investing time and money into your customer support channels will not deliver the right results if you do not track their effectiveness.
Tracking the effectiveness of your online channels, including chatbots, is easier. The software will provide you with advanced analytics options and you just need to select the right metrics, such as:
- Engagement metrics: the bounce rate, the number of bot sessions initiated, the goal completion rate
- Conversion metrics: human interaction vs. chatbot interaction, conversation duration, interaction rate, fallback rate
- Customer satisfaction: retention rates, the satisfaction score
Tracking the effectiveness of a call center is more challenging. That is where switching to VoIP can help. Namely, VoIP providers offer a wide range of analytics metrics. First, they let you record calls so you can analyze them to measure brand sentiment and the performance of your customer support agents. You can also get access to multiple advanced call analytics features and reports to measure the performance of your VoIP call center. This way, you will eliminate guesswork from your customer support and provide personalized customer experiences.
GETTING THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS
Human agents and bots have different skills.
The major advantage of human agents is that they add the human touch to your customer support. They understand your customers, their needs, preferences, frustrations, and address them with empathy. No matter how advanced AI technologies are, humans are still the ones responding to complex customer inquiries.
Chatbots, on the other hand, will automate your customer support and make it more efficient. They can collect customer data across multiple channels and increase the efficacy of your human customer service agents. Above all, they will provide customers with 24/7 support.
Therefore, you should not decide between these two forms of customer support. Make them work together to appeal to different customer groups and provide omnichannel customer service.