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Your Customer Service Sucks and It's Not Your Chatbot’s Fault

Updated: Jan 7

By Siddharth Wadehra, Head of Research


In the shifting customer-care landscape where every interaction has the potential to cement or sever a customer relationship, the need to transition to a more holistic approach to customer engagement is critical. However, for a number of years, companies have struggled to calibrate their strategy for customer engagement through service channels. Most still rely on the traditional call center approach while others have chatbot interfaces in an attempt to go digital. This approach has led business executives to believe that they must make trade-offs between two opposing forces: improving the customer experience and managing costs.

This mindset contains some truth with traditional customer experience programs run through organizational silos, or cost-cutting programs focused narrowly on reducing headcount. In some cases, initiatives to create a well-designed experience lead to beautiful visions, but operations and IT teams cannot deliver the experience because they haven’t figured out the path through complex legacy infrastructure, policies, and processes. In other cases, dozens of IT initiatives take the upper hand, but it’s not clear how they will improve the customer experience. These initiatives do not reduce underlying complexity, what’s worse is that they may even worsen the experience. One widely used approach which leaders use is to deploy a chatbot which attempts to answer some of the frequently repeated questions. While this might be a good first stab, however, without connecting it with the internal operations, it might not be able to help provide a seamless journey to your customer when they interact with your brand.


There is, however, a better way to help business teams with this dilemma. Companies can more efficiently deliver higher product or service volumes, freeing up funds to reinvest in growth areas. Taking out operational costs and improving the customer experience become two sides of the same coin. Companies can attain both goals by reducing bad or avoidable volume, such as unnecessary calls to the contact center; offering more self-service options for basic transactions, which customers actually want; and rationalizing the product architecture and mix. These steps lead to a better experience, which accelerates revenues through greater customer loyalty and a larger share of wallet.


The probable reasons why your customer service isn’t ideal

Companies often think about digital and human support separately, which has them make a common set of mistakes when designing and executing a multichannel strategy. This article attempts to explore some of the underlying reasons why the service dished out to your customers isn’t ideal and why just having a chatbot might not be the way forward.


1. Not optimizing the service design blueprint and connecting it to CX strategy

When companies fail to coordinate roles, technology, and support processes among channels, they risk developing their digital service without the needed focus on the complete customer experience (CX). This results in companies slapping pieces of technology, proudly proclaiming it as digital transformation and claiming to improve the customer experience. However, disparate digital channels that often do not communicate with the core nor optimize the service design blueprint leave a lot to be desired from the customer experience perspective.


Ideally, your organization should draft out the customer journey and connect it to the various components in the service design blueprint. This could be followed by optimizing the service design to ensure cross-departmental orchestration to streamline internal processes and channels to provide a unified view to the customer. The optimized blueprint should then be used as a foundation for the digital apps the organization intends to build and launch.


2. Attempting automation before understanding customer behavior

Companies often decide which activities to automate on the basis of how easy it is to do so- more often than not the chatbot is the first attempt at digitizing the customer service. The basic underlying assumption is that digital chatbots will handle the simpler interactions, while humans step in to deal with more complex queries. However, this model does not always consider the real value to customers of the contact or how automating it might diminish that value.


Consider the example, most subscription businesses make bills available online, regarding this as a simple way to address billing inquiries. But customers often go online not only to find out how much they are expected to pay, but also to understand how a charge is calculated, dispute a charge, request a payment extension, or learn how to reduce charges in the future. If they cannot get help with such inquiries in the digital channel, customers must connect with the call center for assistance—and will likely be frustrated because of the broken journey which has been met out to them.


3. A siloed view of the customer

Call centers or other channels of customer service often have a siloed view of customer service. This is often because customer data is often siloed in different systems which do not communicate with each other. This has the customer grappling with a broken or an inconsistent experience. To provide a more seamless customer experience initially and hopefully leading to more personalized offers, a more holistic view of the customer would be mandatory. Any new digital app should have the ability to integrate with existing systems and be able to pull the data before using in-built logic to make real-time recommendations.


4. Lack of integration between digital self-service and human support Companies should determine how digital and human channels can best support each other in helping customers resolve issues or complete transactions faster. Human-assisted channels, such as chat, social media, and community forums, can add more value if their purpose is to help a customer remain with digital self-serve.


By taking this integrated view, companies can prioritize the building of channel capabilities that will allow them to meet fluctuating demand most effectively. By ensuring the human element effectively complements the digital customer self-service, companies can ensure that the end-customer journey is as close to the envisioned ideal one.


Our prediction

As self-service options continue to take the center stage in redefining customer service, we believe that there would be a few dominant trends that would take over. Frontline automation is rapidly changing the requirements of traditional call centers. This would result in inbound calls declining significantly, if not being completely eliminated. The most complex requests might still be handled by agents, who will be supported and coached by tech-bots.


Solutions will digest large amounts of data, recognize voice patterns, and communicate insights and recommendations to these agents. Meanwhile, manual work will be widely automated, allowing agents to focus fully on advising customers, delivering the best experience, and pursuing cross-selling and upselling. A true omnichannel world might possibly emerge: when customers interact with a company, they will have access to a wide range of contact options—from social media and chat to self-service. Higher-end customized experiences will require companies to rethink how they connect with customers. With more technologies continue to impact digital customer service, personalization would continue to evolve. Eventually all of these would come together to form a next-generation revenue engine for growth for companies.


This transition starts with building custom self-service apps to empower your customer. This would allow you the option to integrate the current wave of technologies into the customer care operations. While the journey to tech-enabled customer care won’t happen overnight, it will become a reality far faster than some executives expect, which would transform every aspect of customer service as we know it.


Steer- Build custom self-service apps without writing a single line of code



Seamless digital customer service getting more complex to implement. Customers expect their experience to be continuous and consistent as they migrate from one platform to another, but they also want service options that make sense in the context in which they are asking for help. Additionally, customers are getting harder to impress. The rapid rise of ‘digital native’ companies, such as Amazon or Uber, exposes customers to streamlined user experiences designed from the ground up for digital delivery. Established companies that build their offerings and processes on top of, or alongside, more traditional channels often find it hard to meet the same standards.


Having said that it is possible to have both- happy customers and cost savings. While launching digital apps and self-service options are the way to go, attempting to get there by custom-development or off-the-shelf purchase alternatives might not often tailor the requirements custom to your organization’s unique processes. Leveraging on the capabilities of a no-code platform would allow you offer self-service options at a fraction of the cost and time. Steer Platform allows organizations to build custom self-service apps without writing a single line of code. Steer helps the user translate all your learnings from the optimized service design blueprint into the digital self-service app that you intend to build.


To learn more about service design and how it could impact your customer self-service, sign up for one of our upcoming workshop HERE. Alternatively, sign up HERE for a 14-day no-questions-asked trial and kickstart building your custom self-service application today!


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Reference:


https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/charting-the-future-of-customer-care-through-a-core-optimization-philosophy

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/winning-the-expectations-game-in-customer-care

https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/customers-lives-are-digital-but-is-your-customer-care-still-analog

https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/nl/Documents/consumer-business/deloitte-nl-the-digital-transformation-of-customer-services.pdf

https://www.bcg.com/publications/2017/four-ways-improve-digital-customer-service

https://www.bcg.com/en-in/publications/2020/redefining-customer-service-for-the-future

https://www.bain.com/insights/the-future-of-customer-service/

https://www.bain.com/insights/have-it-both-ways-happy-customers-and-lower-costs/

About Steer

Steer helps companies like yours transform the way you do business through ordering & fulfillment automation.

We envision a world where your customers love your brand because you provide them with seamless and pleasant experiences through 24/7 access to products and services and transparent & convenient payment. At the same time, our platform helps you achieve smooth-like-butter operations supported by reduced waste & costs, better scalability, and higher profitability.

Steer was created by the same team behind BlastAsia. Established in 2001, BlastAsia is one of the largest software product engineering companies in the Philippines and  is a Microsoft Gold Partner for Application Development and Cloud Platform.

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