Business

Transform your call-center to a customer-engagement center

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Transform your call-center to a customer-engagement center

Covid-19 has created a surge of customers calling their insurance companies, travel agencies, on-line retailers, unemployment services, and other public citizen services, etc. 

In Denmark,  insurance companies have reported that they in 2 months in 2020 have received as many calls as they did for the whole of 2019, resulting in waiting times of up to 6 weeks to get an answer. And they don’t expect that to be a one-time experience. Getting closer to vacation time, or as perhaps a second Covid-19 wave threatens, similar surges are expected to return.

We have worked with many companies, helping them improve their customer’s experience in engaging with them. Specifically, we have developed and implemented a roadmap, for transforming the call-center/customer service from a reactive ‘cost-center’ to a proactive customer-engagement center, where you predict, understand, and effectively respond to your customers’ needs – and earn their loyalty.

IBM Institute for Business Values published an eye-opening paper ‘Reinventing the Contact Center’, listing a number of observations on the importance of the call-center – some are:

  • Having a bad experience with a company during a crisis like Covid-19 makes the customer feel betrayed – which they most likely will never forget
  • 22% of millennials say that 1 bad experience is enough for them to not want to do business with that company again
  • More than 60% of unsolved customer inquiries could be answered at first contact if the employee had access to the needed information.
  • Superior customer service has also a big impact on employee satisfaction and motivation
  • Only 17% of call-centers are able to systematically understand, why customers are having a bad experience.

One of our client examples in Denmark is Industriens Pension (IP), one of the largest pension funds in Denmark with more than 400.000 members. IP has implemented a very sophisticated IBM Watson enabled application that services many of their members directly with a virtual advisor ‘Roberta’ answering most of the general questions. And Watson is also used to support their ‘human customer advisors’ to answer individual, complex inquiries.  The latter, by having IBM Watson listening in on the conversations between the member and customer advisor and in real-time prompting relevant documentation and actions to the advisor. See it for yourself in a video demo here:

Another client example Lemvigh-Müller, who have used AI to ai customer servicesupport their more than 120 sales employees quickly understand customer’s requests for steel, metals, and technical goods.  This is an industry with much ‘craftsman lingo and slang’. It takes a long time for new sales employees to learn enough about the over 300.000 products with technical specifications/requirements to quickly find the right product when a customer calls in from a site. Now they use AI to contextually search for the right product and offering and have been able to shorten the service time with the customer significantly.  It has also increased upselling and cross-selling revenue and has reduced learning time for new sales employees by almost 50%.

Our experiences have shown that there are 5 key learning points and recommendations to improve your customers’ experience – quickly:

Recommendations:

  1. Supplement your existing call-center with a virtual call-center, applying technologies such as digital AI-based chatbots or voice-bots. These can today be set-up in days (sometimes even only hours), being able to respond to the most frequently asked questions – also in the Nordic languages.
  2. Make the virtual call-center and human call-center work in sync. The bot must know, when and how to seamlessly hand over contacts – with the chat history and necessary information – to the right ‘human customer service employee’
  3. Provide AI-support to human customer service employees to respond to complex questions at first contact.
  4. Automate: Many of the inquiries and requests for service may be handled automatically, i.e. submitting an order, resetting a password, changing an existing subscription, getting account or product information, etc.
  5. Don’t forget the security and proper handling of personal, sensitive information.

Finally: ‘Don’t try to boil the ocean’ – start with the low hanging fruits, such as a relatively simple chatbot.  You will be surprised how much of the peak load it can shape off, allowing your employees to devote more time to the complex, customer requests.

Do you want to know more about how you can transform your call-center to a customer-engagement center? Please do not hesitate to contact me at andersq@dk.ibm.com

Research & Innovation Executive, IBM Research - IBM Watson

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