Embrace AI But Do The Unexpected

Embrace AI But Do The Unexpected: How To Rebuild Trust In Your Customers

If you’ve been following our recent blogs, you’ll know we see Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Intelligent Self-Service (ISS) as a huge growth area for communities and customer service teams.

Certainly, as technology continues to evolve it will empower customers to help themselves resolve their challenges quickly and effectively. The role of the customer service team will shift as there is no longer a requirement for the customer to spend time on hold waiting to speak to a team member to solve a large percentage of their general enquiries.

The customer service team will become more strategic. They will specialise in more complex and personal customer issues that go beyond ISS and AI, and they will develop a much more mature understanding of the customer and the market.

Why will this be needed? Customer loyalty is in decline.

The Sceptical Customer

In 2015 and 2018, Opinium LLP in conjunction with Verint conducted some fascinating research. They found:

As recently as 2015, a worldwide survey by Opinium LLP and Verint found that 61 per cent of customers had been with their service providers for more than three years. Yet by 2018 that figure had dropped to a rather significant level: just 50 per cent.

Opinium LLP and Verint, 2019.

This is a trend that echoes the experiences of many organisations and their audiences. In 2019 we live in an adversarial consumer-led world where consumer champion websites like www.moneysavingexpert.com actively encourage people to ditch and switch their services and products to save money and get good customer service.

Underpinning everything is the vitally important notion of trust. Consumers are more sceptical than they ever have been, especially in some of the bigger brands that they often see as bloated monoliths who ride roughshod over the customer and playing fast and loose with their data.

Indeed, many customers still feel that they are unimportant to the organisation as an individual. They see customer service as a numbers game where the organisation appears to make it needlessly challenging to resolve a problem or discuss a service or product.

Trust erodes over time to the extent that not only is the customer frustrated, but they are also actively angry with the company and determined to move away no matter what the company does. What a shame.

Rebuilding The Customer Service Experience

Let’s take a step back and consider how AI, ISS and more meaningful customer service team interactions can combine to win and retain customers and build trust.

Step 1: The Low Hanging Fruit

Implementing ISS through Knowledge Bases, Chatbots, Community Support and similar tools should be able to resolve a large percentage of your most common customer touchpoints. Everything from changes of address to technical settings can be automated and made instantly available.

Result: Remove the need for customers to be in long call queues or for your team to repeat the same answers over and over. Constantly evolving and improving the knowledge hubs of information to give customers faster and more accurate solutions. A more personalised experienced is created.

Step 2: Strategic Customer Service Teams

Here’s another compelling piece of data recorded by the Opinium LLP and Verint research:

Worldwide, a full 68 per cent of customers worry that their query will get lost or misunderstood by fully automated services. An even higher proportion — 76 per cent — want human contact to remain part of customer service.

Opinium LLP and Verint, 2019.

There is still a very clear need for humans in the customer service journey, but this interaction is now much timelier and more necessary. Typically, a customer will want to speak to a real customer service team member if their need falls outside the capability of ISS and the quality of the interaction will often be higher and more tailored and therefore valuable to the customer.

Step 3: Delivering Happiness

Successful organisations who will embrace and excel at this new approach to customer service will be the ones who also consider the value of doing that little bit more for their audience.

In 2010, Tony Hsieh released “Delivery Happiness”, a fascinating account of how he and his colleagues built the billion-dollar Zappos empire. Fundamentally, it’s a timely reminder that word of mouth recommendation is still one of the most powerful growth and retention tools in any organisation’s armoury.

Customers are humans. They want to solve problems and find solutions with as little friction as possible and have genuinely positive interactions with the brand that rebuild trust and earn recommendations.

Let Intelligent Self-Service be the tool for change but go the extra mile when you have human-to-human interactions that let the customer know that you value them as an individual and not a number.

The future of customer service is bright. Blend technology and refocus on what your team can do to stand out from the competition to deliver happiness for the customer.