Customer service agents should be involved in designing new tools and technologies, because they know exactly what they need.
What will be the role of AI and technology in general in contact centres in the future?
Social media made it much easier and natural for customers to contact a brand than before. Conversations became the norm. With 1 million visitors a day on our commercial website and one ticket sold every three seconds that is hundred thousands of customers who contact us every month. At the same time, the amount of conversations that individuals hold daily make it paramount for companies to be relevant and personalised in their answers to stand out from the crowd.
To tackle the growing volumes and the need for personalisation is precisely the challenge we expect AI and technology to help us with. They already are reliable enablers – with personal agent assistant and many automated processes – but they should become even more essential in the future, allowing our agents to focus their efforts where no AI can be as subtle and expert as a human.
Technology should help automate increasingly complex processes (booking, payment, authentications, calls to external data systems, etc.) leaving more time for agents to focus on care and sales than on technical skills.
Combination of different types of AI (image recognition, voice detection, NLP…) will ease documents analysis. Dispatch of customer requests to chatbots and specialised agents will rely more and more on AI until it is fully automated. New features allow contact centres to propose a customer to shift seamlessly to another channel where there is less waiting time. Last, translation by AI should really grow, allowing companies to service more languages while reducing the amount of spoken languages in their contact centres.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of self-service?
Building self-service solutions gives company a back-up plan to offer to their customers in case it can’t assist them proactively or quickly enough. However, asking your customers to do any kind of job themselves when you could do it for them does not reflect a very caring attitude and makes you miss the opportunity to engage a conversation throughout which you could learn a lot and even sell more or better to people who need you.
Still, to provide self-service solutions to your customers gives them the opportunity not to rely entirely on you and to feel in control. This freedom and autonomy given to the customers can be highly appreciated by some of them who want to handle things their way and avoid any kind of direct contact with your company.
How to boost agent performance and productivity?
Two things mainly:
1. It is paramount to make agents aware of their importance in the customers’ satisfaction/brand perception process. Assistance is part of the product/service you sell, they have to be as good as the promise your company made to the customers. Show them the satisfaction results of their good or bad work and make them feel the power they have over the customer.
2. Agents are the experts. They need to be considered and they are the best to design their own tools. Keep them updated with the latest technologies available, set-up regular brainstorm sessions to involve them in designing their future tools. Also, build feedback loops to improve their current ones.
Romain Cuisinier, Head of Social Media Servicing for Air France is a holder of a degree of applied mathematics; he first worked for the BNP Paribas group before he joined Air France in 2007 as a researcher on customer behaviour at their Marketing Department. He is now part of the Social Media Team and responsible for innovations and development to leverage Social Media Servicing.