There’s a lot of noise around digital customer service these days. Everyone says you have to do it, and you believe that’s true. But aside from creating a better customer and agent experience, you’re not sure how to make a business case for digital customer service. What are the tangible business advantages, the imperatives that make it essential? And where are the numbers to back that up?
Opus Research recently surveyed a select group of companies using Helpshift’s digital customer service solutions. One diversified ISP found that by migrating 30% of its support traffic from phone-based agents to automated methods, it saved $6.3 million. Another company, a multi-million-dollar electronic gaming specialist, reduced support expenses by more than 30% in six months.
To lay out a business case for implementing a digital customer service strategy for your own company, let’s get into the most important talking points.
Lowered human costs
Human assistance is expensive for organizations. The average call costs a customer support center $12. The average messaging conversation, on the other hand, costs just $1, and automated and self-service options well under a dollar.
Let’s say businesses spend about $1.3 trillion a year on 265 billion customer service calls. The more of these calls that can be serviced or aided by a chatbot or self-serve option, the more drastically companies can pare down costs.
Gartner predicts that by 2020, customers will manage 85 percent of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human.
Digital customer service does not mean replacing human agents with chatbots entirely. Instead, chatbots work in tandem with agents. For instance, a customer might first interact with a chatbot that uses intelligent routing to assess the issue and redirect the contact. If it’s an issue that’s easy to resolve through knowledge base articles, the customer may be directed to those articles or to another chatbot that will draw on them to provide answers. Or, an initial bot interaction might route the customer to the appropriate human agent for specific resolution, faster.
Because digital customer service technology is not dependent on the availability of a limited number of human reps, it’s scalable. As a company grows, or grows its customer service organization, digital customer service technology doesn’t just keep up, but reduces the costs that would be associated with growing a human workforce.
Operational efficiency and effectiveness
A lot of people think digital customer service means having a customer service presence on every channel: phone support, email support, live chat, social media. But effective digital strategy requires much more than just flexible contact options. If those experiences are siloed within the organization, it doesn’t help make the organization more effective.
Instead, various threads must be connected. If a customer has been interacting with a chatbot and switches to a live chat interface with a real human agent, that agent must be able to pick up the conversation where it left off, already equipped with all the details of the conversation so far. Supplying agents with clear, easy to access customer issue history allows them to resolve problems faster — a win-win for both the organization and the customer.
The most effective way to make your customer support operation effective and efficient with digital technology is to put in place a combination of automation and asynchronous messaging techniques. For instance:
- An AI-powered QuickSearch Bot on top of a robust knowledge base, so you can offer customers relevant information to help them self-serve to their own answers.
- Decision-tree based bots that can collect and record information from customers up front and then automate workflows. In some cases, they can resolve customer issues without the need to open a ticket. When a ticket is opened, the human agent is adequately informed and can dive right into resolution.
- AI-powered issue classification can assign relevant tickets to agents and bots more accurately in the first place to reduce the number of transfers between agents and quicken the time to resolution.
Relying on an integrated combination of automation, AI, and human intelligence frees up agents to focus on more complex issues and solves every type of problem faster.
A competitive edge
Nearly 90 percent of company leaders view customer experience as a competitive differentiator, according to the 2019 Global Customer Experience Benchmarking Report.
Perhaps the biggest business case for digital customer service is that customers today simply demand it. Digital customer service technology allows brands to respond immediately to all customer inquiries — if not by a human agent, by an QuickSearch Bot or other self-serve mechanism. One gaming company studied by Opus Research was able to reduce response times for help requests by up to 90 percent. The actual volume of help calls declined by 65 percent because fewer issues were left open — making for fewer follow-up calls.
Faster time to response, faster resolution time, less waiting on hold for a human agent — these are all ways that digital customer service technology serves customers well. It’s typical that brands see a jump in their CSAT score when they implement the right digital customer service technology platform. That’s particularly true when people can access customer service right from within the app they’re using, with in-app messaging.
Digital customer service technology offers a better experience, streamlines the customer support operation, and saves companies money on support costs. It also offers a fourth critical benefit: abundant data. The ability to set and track key performance metrics (KPIs) gives companies a distinct advantage when they engage with digital customer service platforms.
For instance, with the Helpshift dashboard, you can view case analytics, agent analytics, and knowledge analytics. Here’s how that breaks down:
Case Analytics: Review metrics such as issue trends, response time rates, ticket volume spikes, and CSAT patterns to understand how your customer service is performing over time.
Agent Analytics: Monitor the behavior and quality of your team and even individual agents with metrics such as activity, efficiency, productivity, and quality of support.
Knowledge Analytics: Analyze your knowledge base with things like FAQ efficiency evaluation and customer search patterns. You can track successful and failed ticket deflections in order to constantly reevaluate your knowledge base performance.
You can also put custom reporting in place with self-service tools that help you visualize your customer service data in the ways most likely to allow you to finesse your support operation.
Wrapping up the business case for digital customer service
In a time when customer expectations of technology and service are ramped way up, companies that can’t meet those expectations are sabotaging their own efforts. That’s not a sustainable way to be in the 2020s.
Digital customer service gives companies the ability to create stronger customer loyalty through their support offerings, but also creates operational efficiency and, bottom line, can save companies a lot of money over time.