“The first rule of any technology used in a business is that automation applied to an efficient operation will magnify the efficiency. The second is that automation applied to an inefficient operation will magnify the inefficiency.” – Bill Gates
Why customers hate IVR and call centers
If you’ve had the average customer’s experience with IVR systems, you know how frustrating they can be. Long lists of options, followed by further sub-menus and then a possible wait in a queue. Not to forget the music that you don’t like, blasting in your ears. By a spate of bad luck, if your call gets disconnected, you have no other option but to start all over again.
IVRs have been around for over 30 years now, but they still fall short of customer expectations. One of the most frequent complaints about contact centers is the complexity of IVR system and the length of time it takes to get through. As per a research firm JD Power & Associates – according to consumers, only 7 percent of call centers’ IVR solution delivered a better experience than a live agent.
Many customers, when they do finally reach an agent, have to still go through a long security process. They have to do this even though they had already entered some security details in the IVR. Speaking to an agent comes with its own set of challenges. Some of them are:
- Call getting transferred from one department to another
- Being forced to listen to unnecessary information
- Waiting idly while the agent tries to load the system, or worse,
- Talking to an untrained or an incompetent agent
These are some of the many reasons why customers have come to hate the IVRs and the entire call center experience. Both of these have become customer experience killers, especially for the telecom sector.
What are chatbots and how they address these issues
A chatbot is a computer program designed to simulate a conversation with human users. These conversations could be via text or voice.
Chatbots parse the messages sent by the client, analyze it and give him the appropriate response. For example, imagine a scenario where the customer wants to change his roaming plan. Using an IVR, he might have to press anywhere between 4-6 buttons before he can listen to the list of roaming plans available.
On the other hand, when a customer speaks to or texts a chatbot, the chatbot can process it, validate his request and complete the task. This can be done with less than three inputs from the customer, taking very little of his time. Chatbots do not force the customer to spell out each piece of information. Instead, they process the customer’s natural language commands and arrive at a solution much more quickly.
Chatbots bypass several complexities that IVRs and call centers cannot avoid. The error rate is now significantly reduced since human error decreases. Setting up chatbots involves a one-time cost only. Any change done to the program reflects in all the instances of the chatbot. The company can thus save on salary, hiring, training and monitoring costs by moving to chatbots.
Chatbots with machine learning and AI
Chatbots, armed with artificial intelligence and machine learning, are capable of providing excellent customer experience. They can provide a far superior experience compared to the one offered by a competent agent.
Using machine learning, chatbots can personalize the interaction with each customer. They can do so by learning from the previous interactions with the user. Ex: if a customer asks for package recommendations, the chatbot can look at his usage pattern, current plan and recommend the most relevant plans. Chatbots have the ability to dig through huge amounts of data. They can thus pick out the best nugget for a customer, whether it is a troubleshooting solution or a recommendation for a new product to try.
Improving customer experience
Companies’ websites are generally updated with clear steps to resolve common customer issues. But a lot of customers do not have the aptitude to browse and resolve an issue on their own. Even when they are savvy enough to do that, many customers are lazy to spend time and effort. They call the customer care, expecting a quick resolution of their issue.
However, the call center agents are usually looking at multiple screens and are severely limited by the speed of the programs they access. Thus, it ends up being a frustrating experience for the customer. A frustrated customer easily turns into a lost customer.
Unlike the customer care agents, chatbots have APIs to quickly access the CRM. Their interaction with the CRMs is seamless and fast.
Moving away from a cost center to a revenue center
Call centers have traditionally been cost centers. Businesses need to scale their call centers up, as they grow in customer base and revenue.
By moving routine requests to chatbots and using the call center only for cross-selling and upselling, companies can reduce the load on their call center units by over 80%. They are now transformed into revenue centers and can now focus on getting more business, instead of solving run-of-the-mill issues.
AI enabled chatbots are the future of customer experience for the telecom industry. Geckolyst’s chatbot powers one of India’s largest telecom companies with over 100 million subscribers. Get in touch with us today to understand how we can transform your call center process using AI.