Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, speaking at this year’s Facebook Developer Conference F8 about the changing expectations of customers and how they interact with businesses, stated, “We think you should message a business just the way you would message a friend.” To meet the need for businesses to communicate in the same way their customers do, contact centers have begun to deploy customer support chatbots—web or mobile based programs that provide intelligent, automated interaction that not only support self-service, but can also field a range of customer inquiries with the same fluid, conversational cadence as live person.
The value of integrating chatbots to address customer needs and, thereby, improve customer satisfaction is recognized by industry experts as a fait accompli across verticals. According to a Research and Markets report, the global virtual and digital assistant (VDA) market will continue to grow from $1.6 billion in 2015 to $15.8 billion by 2021.
However, superior customer support is just one benefit of chatbots. Contact center leaders are beginning to realize that the technology can improve internal operations by providing the same level of support to agents and managers as well.
Here are three ways chatbots can aid agents:
1. Scheduling: Contact centers are staffed with a large number of agents, both on-premises, mobile and remote. Managing sick days, vacation time and scheduling can be tricky and time-consuming. Customer service chatbots offer an automated solution that enables agents to manage their own schedules, mitigating gaps in scheduling and freeing up administrators to complete other tasks.
2. Agent training: Analytics are a vital component of continual on-the-job training for agents, directing managers to where performance can improve. Customer service chatbots can compile and analyze more data in less time than humans can. This empowers agents to track their own performance in real time, which, in turn, can lead to immediate and spot-on self-correction. Managers can also tap into the analytics compiled by chatbots and evaluate all personnel to discern whether many agents face the same issues, which can reflect an institutional flaw in the training process.
3. Customer support: Because the evaluation of agents is largely linked to customer experience, both parties desire seamless and satisfactory resolutions. Chatbots can help properly route a customer from the original point of contact to the agent best prepared to resolve the customer’s inquiry. Chatbots can also funnel data compiled from the preceding interactions to an agent’s desktop in real time so that agents and customers don’t have to duplicate their efforts across channels.
One of the greatest threats to an organization’s contact center is the mishandling of the needs of its agents. Agents that lack tools to make their jobs simpler, increase agent availability and provide superb customer satisfaction can lead to disinterest and lower retention rates, which can have a direct and negative impact on the organization’s bottom line. Learn more about how customer service chatbots can support the needs of today’s agents.
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