Future of customer service

Digital transformation is impacting every industry, especially now as adoption of digital tools has become an imperative as companies adjust to new realities of work during a pandemic. While the switch to digital customer service tools has dramatically accelerated in recent weeks, shifting to digital presents its own challenges, especially for customer service agents, who have to adapt to using modern digital support tools such as asynchronous messaging and chatbots.

To adapt, the traditional agent role has to change, and it’s up to you to equip agents for success. Let’s explore some ideas you can use to get your agents ready for the future of work.

Remote work

Digital transformation impacts life beyond the industry. It has also created a shift in the way people want and expect to work. Employees want to achieve a better life balance and technology supports their ability to do that. Many jobs can be done remotely, making it possible for workers to get more done on a flexible schedule. 

According to the US Federal Reserve, the share of the labor force that works from home tripled in the past 15 years. Still, less than 30 percent of the workforce can work from home. This is, in large part, because organizations are lacking the technology to allow their employees to work remotely. The shift to remote work is happening quickly, but companies need the right tools to keep up. 

The exciting thing is, customer support could be at the forefront of this change. Modern technologies can allow agents to respond to customers from anywhere, as long as there’s a good internet connection. As more people look for flexible work, this will become an attractive option. 

There are several ways for companies to make this possible for their agents. One of the most effective options is using a digital customer service platform to streamline operations. This allows more flexibility and gives companies the capacity to scale. 

Training and On-boarding

Training is essential to spread knowledge to future agents and existing ones. This is one way you can make sure agents evolve with technology.

For example, agents will have to transition away from speaking over the phone with scripts and scenarios. Most of the work they do will require writing skills and facilitating transitions between conversations from chatbots to humans and vice versa. Learning how to communicate emotions in writing will be key. 

Further, agents need to understand their relationship with technology like AI and bots. What role do the bots play? How can agents use them as a tool to free up more time? These are a few of the questions you should help your agents answer. 

Companies and agents also have to focus more on soft skills. Your agents need to be able to handle the most difficult tasks with patience and kindness. When you give your employees the knowledge and skills they need to make their job enjoyable, you’ll also increase customer satisfaction.

On-boarding is another important part of the conversation when we think about bringing in employees. With the right tools, you can capture the history of customer conversations. This makes it easier for agents to understand your processes. It also helps them learn how to represent the brand. 

New technology can also give new agents more confidence. With predefined messages, they can practice different scenarios and gain the knowledge they need to serve your customers. 

Incentivizing your agents

Some people believe that technology is making customer service roles obsolete but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Today, Bots aren’t replacing humans. They’re actually enhancing their work.

Bots free up agents to focus on where they can add the most value. With bots handling simple requests, agents can take the time to engage with customers and really use their skills. 

To make sure that this happens, set goals for the way your agents use the bots and the way they personally interact with customers. Encourage them to use technology to their advantage and get more critical work done. Remember, bots shouldn’t work against your agents. Technology and agents should work hand in hand. 

Retaining your agents

The fact is, it’s difficult for brands to hire enough support agents. Data shows that over 70 percent of employers have trouble finding skilled candidates.  Worse, customer service roles have a high churn rate, while consumers have increasingly high expectations. This contrast makes it vital for companies to engage and retain agents. 

There’s also an even bigger problem that contributes to agent retention. Gallup estimates that 87 percent of employees worldwide aren’t engaged, and the impact of disengagement can be disastrous. However, on the flip side, engaged employees create satisfied customers

Want to ensure that your employees are invested in their work? There are a few simple steps you can take to increase engagement. 

Be Flexible

The new generation of workers are demanding more flexibility to work from home. Give them that flexibility and allow them to work on their own schedule.

Empower employees 

Give your agents the power to make more decisions. Allow them to break free from using a prescribed script for everything. Instead of training employees on scripts, invest in technology and let the bots do the automatic responses.

Simplify your processes

Modern technology is largely absent from call centers. In fact, many call centers are using multiple outdated tools to help them categorize and route tickets. As a result, they’re spending much of their time on administrative tasks. With the right platform, you can give your agents everything they need to streamline the customer service journey from end to end. 

The role of AI and automation in customer service

There are several ways that AI and automation, when deployed alongside asynchronous messaging, can support the future of work in customer service. The right tools can help you scale customer support, increase each agent’s efficiency and improve the customer experience overall. Here’s a closer look at a couple of ways AI and automation can transform your business.

First, switch to asynchronous messaging

Asynchronous messaging supports the most automation use cases. Providing an asynchronous messaging experience across channels allows agents and automation to work together on the same issue, resulting in greater efficiency for agents and higher satisfaction for customers. 

Scale without adding agents

Most organizations lack the ability to support a spike in calls or customer service requests. However, with the right technology, it is possible to scale quickly. Automation and bots can offload the most routine issues so agents can focus on higher priority ones. Chatbots also make it easy for organizations to handle higher volume without increasing their headcount.

Self-service

Using AI and automation, you can offer customers a comprehensive set of self-service options. When extra attention is required, your agents can seamlessly enter any conversation without compromising the customer experience.

Increased agent efficiency

Since automation and bots can handle more routine questions and requests, this technology also increases agent efficiency. It allows agents to send fewer messages and work on more tickets.

Improved customer experience

Data also shows that when bots and agents work together, customers have a better experience. According to our most recent State of Automation Report, issues that agents and bots worked on together resulted in the highest Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) at 4.40, when averaged across 6 months. 

Bottom line: The future of customer service work

The future of customer support is bright, and technology is leading the way. As bots and agents work in harmony, customer service may soon become one of the most wanted jobs on the planet. AI and automation will give agents the flexibility they need and help them avoid monotonous tasks. Companies will also be able to set clear targets and empower their agents to do more of what they love. 

Published March 31, 2020
block background image