Last Bot Standing…Will bots win the war for customer service?
Servicing your customers is a tough job. On the one hand your customers deserve and demand the best possible service, using their preferred communication channel they expect their issue to be resolved right away. Meeting these expectations in today’s market place means significant investments in manpower and technologies. On the other hand, service providers need to maintain a balance between costs and revenue, and customer service is subject to budget constraints like any other part of the organization.
In the last decade many consumer electronics and communication services have become commoditized and as a consequence, prices have dropped. This trend has placed a great deal of pressure on service and product providers, since the support costs for these products and services have remained constant as a result, the provider’s profit margins have started to shrink.
Moreover, as the consumer environment becomes increasingly technologically complex, driven by the rapid growth of IoT and smart home products, the financial viability of providing high cost human-based technical support is diminishing. The result is a major threat to the ability of many product and service companies to scale their business.
It’s an age-old conundrum.
How do you reduce support costs while increasing customer satisfaction?
To reach an answer, first we need to understand the nature of customer service. The primary way in which consumers receive customer support is via call centers that are staffed with support representatives, who interact with customers by phone, chat, email or via social media. Typically, most of the consumer inquires that they address are recurrent, and the vast majority are very simple to handle.
The current cost to deliver and maintain customer service worldwide is more than 300 billion dollars a year. As the primacy of technology in our lives keeps growing, these costs will rise significantly and become a barrier to growth and technological development, unless we radically transform the current support model.
For many, the answer is the automation of as many of customer interactions as possible, in other words, AI bots. The – idea is to hand-off many of the low level customer support tasks to computer programs that are powered with the artificial intelligence (AI) that we call bots. Bots are digital entities that can be introduced into mobile devices or desktop computers and are able to interact with humans in a natural, lifelike manner that mimics human conversation.
Bots are not a new concept. They have been around for many years now, but the current generation of bots is very limited in it’s capabilities and only serves as a relevant, applicable solution to a small set of problems, in specific industries, such as Medicine and Banking.
This first wave of service bots met a cold reception. Customers voted with their feet against adopting the interaction with bots, due to unnatural and frustrating experiences. This has left the volume of customer support needs unchanged and as a consequence the primary pain point has not been addressed.
Does this mean we need to put bots aside and look elsewhere for an effective way to meet our support service needs?
Recent breakthroughs in Computer Science fields such as Machine Learning, Machine Vision, and NLP, coupled with the ubiquity of smartphones and the significant increase in their computing power is inspiring many people in the customer service industry to believe that bots can indeed provide the answer for support automation at scale.
There is no doubt in the industry that, with time, bots will become conversational, fast, smart and accurate in helping people with low level tasks.
In that case, what type of customer support inquiries can be automated using the technology available to us today?
The 3 major types of customer service inquiry that can be effectively automated are:
– Informational ( Account status, Product Information, etc.)
– Administrative ( Change Plan, Billing, Warranty, etc.)
– Technical (Installations, Product Operation, Malfunctions)
Each type of inquiry requires different Bot capabilities, and therefore raises different technological challenges, and calls for different product, data and integration requirements.
Tech companies that understand the customer support business, and have the technological knowhow to develop intelligent bots, are naturally best positioned to come up with the best product-to-market fit.
At TechSee, our focus is on the automation of technical support inquiries. TechSee is the category leader in combining AI with deep machine learning, proprietary algorithms and big data, to deliver effective virtual tech assistance for call centers and field services. We are building a scalable cognitive system that is becoming increasingly smarter each day. Our goal is to introduce the industry’s first tech bot.
In our next blog post in this series, we will take a look at the technological and business challenges with developing Bots, the types of Bots that are being developed and the major tech players making waves in the industry.