How to retain customers and agents with AI

By | 4 minute read | January 14, 2019

Key Points:

  • 73% of U.S. consumers say “valuing their time” is the most important step a brand can take to keep them happy
  • Nearly a third of U.S. call center agents leave their jobs every year, reflecting widespread dissatisfaction
  • Chatbots will save businesses more than $8 billion per year by 2022
  • AI and automated self service save both customers and call center agents time, provide better service, and reduce costs

A new generation of consumers expects more from customer service than previous generations. This new generation wants quality service anytime, anywhere, on any channel they choose. They’re vocal about the service they receive, sharing both good and bad experiences widely. And if they do not receive immediate support, they take their business elsewhere.

Recent research shows that poor customer service translates into an estimated $62 billion in lost sales in the U.S. alone. It’s easy to see why. As demand increases, so does conventional customer support overhead. Companies spend on average $4,000 or more to hire a call center service agent, with an additional average of $4,800 or more to train them. The high costs coupled with a 30% average employee turnover at U.S. call centers has put the pinch on the bottom line

Companies must automate critical parts of the service function to keep up, but this can be at the expense of a positive customer experience.

Virtual assistants powered by artificial intelligence can reduce costs through automation while empowering both customers and human agents, creating the optimal end-to-end customer service experience.

The power of AI for customer service

Far from rendering customer service agents obsolete, virtual assistants can help them do their jobs better by allowing them to focus on the most challenging cases with the help of the right data delivered at the right time.

Agents working without assistant backup spend an inordinate amount of their time answering repetitive FAQs. In a typical 6-minute customer service call, for example, agents might spend 4.5 minutes doing manual research, leaving a dismal 25% of each call for valuable human-to-human interaction.

When agents do field more challenging queries, they often struggle with disparate systems and contradictory internal resources. They find themselves spending a good deal of their time searching for the answer, resulting in longer handle times. This ultimately decreases first-contact resolution and the accuracy of responses, increasing the risk of customer dissatisfaction.

With the right AI tools in place, however, call centers can automate common customer service tasks for customers as well as live agents, giving both a more satisfying experience.

AI for customers

With a robust AI strategy in place, a customer service interaction becomes a seamless, end-to-end experience. The benefits to consumers of a self-service, customer-facing virtual assistant include:

  • A single point of help that puts the power in the hands of your customers by allowing them to answer straightforward queries that would have required an agent’s help in the past.
  • Communication with users on any channel they choose to get answers to the questions that they need quickly and easily.
  • Automation that can go beyond surface-level FAQs through integration with your support documents and CRM systems.
  • Seamless escalation of tougher questions to live agents empowered to make a human connection for high-quality service.

AI for agents

Not only can you build a solution that your customers want to engage with but you can also create a virtual assistant that acts as a partner for your live agents. The benefits of a virtual assistant for your agents include:

  • Off-loading of low-level tasks such as looking up FAQs, freeing agents to focus on higher-level and more satisfying problem-solving responsibilities.
  • A single tool that agents can engage in natural language to get the right information at the right time to handle complex queries faster and reduce average handling time.
  • Seamless hand-offs between agents and virtual assistants, allowing the assistant to provide suggestions or step in and take over simple tasks, then give the agent full control if the topic veers.

By making the lives of your agents easier and their jobs more satisfying with upgraded tools, you will reduce agent attrition. Customer service AI will also allow you to onboard new agents quickly and easily keep everyone up-to-date on new features/changing company information.

Watson Assistant for better customer service

Bradesco, the Brazilian bank, and leading South African video entertainment company MultiChoice are two of the many global companies using the conversational AI provided by Watson Assistant to improve customer satisfaction and assist live agents.

Using Watson Assistant, Multichoice built an AI solution to empower its 1,500 call center agents to get fast answers to 200,000 common customer service queries every month, enabling them to provide better service. The solution also allows the company to train new agents faster than ever before. Multichoice has seen 20% faster call resolution and cut its training time for new agents by 60%.

Bradesco deployed a Watson Assistant-powered AI solution, BIA. This AI assistant is used by 60,000 Bradesco employees to quickly answer approximately 30,000 queries per day around products and services. As a result, the bank has shifted 94% of its customer queries to virtual agents while boosting self-reported customer satisfaction levels past 85%, creating a win for everyone.

With the launch of BIA for NEXT, the virtual agent can answer customer FAQs on the front end. Therefore, the digital bank customers no longer have to interact with an employee to get answers to their simple queries.

With Watson, you don’t have to wait to see return on your investment. You can integrate Watson with existing customer management systems and service desks, making it easier than ever before to scale across your business.

Get started with a customer service solution in just four weeks.