Before you continue reading: For the sake of simplicity, in this article we’ll be using the term machine as an all-inclusive representation of innovative technology that is readily available to customers and companies—from Internet of Things (IoT), mobile devices, Artificial Intelligence (AI), voice-command, etc.—and that influences the customer experience.
Have you watched an intense video game player who is interrupted by a problem in the game? It’s not pretty.
When the gaming services themselves have an outage, it makes headlines.
Gamers don’t want to leave the game to get support. They want to stay in the game and get support.
On the flip side of that, customers struggling with downloading photos of their grandkids might want to call a customer support person to walk them through the steps.
Customer support needs to provide support where and how the customer needs it. That means understanding and appreciating how support is offered on various machines, from mobile devices to gaming consoles to everything in between.
Like any other part of the journey, it’s critical to start with the customer.
In an ideal world, each customer would receive one-on-one help and resolve their issue quickly. But in the real world, that approach is impossible to scale. Thankfully, we have machines to help.
Different customers might need different types of support, even if they have the same service issue. Providing options that are easy to access and understand is a key way to scale great customer support.
Chatbots and AI can help scale support
It’s great to provide amazing, personalized support to each customer in the way they want it. But that’s very difficult to provide for each customer in a one-on-one way.
The tools we have available now–Artificial intelligence (AI), chatbots, and content–can provide that type of personalized support at scale.
Robotic text and poorly written guides can be a thing of the past. The technology today allows for experiences that are personal and even emotional.
To offer the right support at scale, let the machines help you deliver for your customer where and how they need you the most.
Start with what you have and build on what’s offered in support.
Have you looked at ways customers can help themselves?
Offer a combination of options.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) have assisted customers since the first websites decades ago. Most sites still have some version of FAQs, and that shows how valuable this type of content can be.
But a static FAQ page, with rough organization and confusing search, can only get so far.
Invest in the search function throughout your site to provide support for customers. Many people rely on search for their first needs online. They expect your site to behave in a similar way.
Test this search often and review the analytics that tell you what search terms might need more attention.
Search is used across devices. Customers might be typing on a desktop browser, using voice commands to access a site on their mobile device, or requesting general information with their smart speaker. Test those customer journeys to ensure they are provided with the right support in the way they want it.
The Knowledge base page
The FAQ section might focus on the questions. The knowledge base page focuses on categorized content around topics.
A well-organized knowledge base reflects the customer’s journey and provides the right information at the right moment.
A new customer can turn to the knowledge base to find product walk-throughs, set-up videos, and more. The technology behind the content can suggest the next video for a new customer to watch, offer deeper dives into more complex content, and playlists based on how the customer wants to use the product.
This type of background intelligence helps the customer feel supported specifically for their journey, and not just around the product they bought.
Many customers have encountered bots offering service. Some customers may consider them less than helpful.
Chatbots use machine learning methodologies and artificial intelligence to provide service and answer questions. While bots can provide some “human-like” experiences, customers deserve to know if they are chatting with a bot or a human. The best support is authentic, so let customers know up-front if they are interacting with a bot or a human.
Personalize the experience for the customer in any way possible. This means more than just addressing them by name. This means offering the context of the relationship with the brand.
Call into a credit card company contact center and the agent might greet you with “Thanks for being a customer since 2009, Mr. Smith!” That agent would also have access to your personal history with the brand, other service issues, and more.
This type of personal touch can be added to interactions with bots. The challenge today is many customers have experienced the frustrating situation when a bot can’t quite grasp the situation. The customer is forced to abandon the chat and call the contact center.
The service agent often has no information about the chat, leading to the customer to repeat all the details.
That is far from ideal.
Customers deserve a seamless journey with the brand. That includes experiences with bots. Design the experience within the context of the overall journey.
AI for human agents
Artificial intelligence (AI) and chatbots aren’t just for the customer-facing journey. Agents in the contact center often are forced to find information through antiquated systems, poorly organized knowledge bases, or even old school three-ring binders.
The customer suffers on hold or simply waiting for the agent to find the right information.
Bots and AI can answer those questions for the agent much faster, and in many cases, more accurately. This means less waiting for customers and better outcomes in general.
There are so many options for scaling support today.
Customer support is necessary for when customers have problems. These problems are sometimes created by systems outside of the brand’s control, but the brand’s response to a customer in need is part of the overall customer journey.
Invest in scale to provide more support for more customers. Just be sure it’s the right support for each customer.
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About the guest author
Jeannie Walters, CCXP, CEO, Experience Investigators™ by 360Connext
Jeannie Walters is a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP) and is CEO of Experience Investigators. She is a customer experience speaker, writer, and consultant with more than 20 years of experience in assisting all types of companies, including Fortune 500. Specialties include in-depth customer experience evaluations, customer journey mapping, user experience analysis, and leading workshops and training programs. Her mission is: To Create Fewer Ruined Days for Customers.™ Connect with her: experienceinvestigators.com | @jeanniecw