There’s a great deal of buzz around the new technologies available for call centers and customer service operations. The buzz includes things like Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation, ChatBots, Predictive Analytics, Voice Biometrics, Internet of Things, and many more. The promise of improved customer relationships and experiences is tantalizing. In a recent interview, Ben Motteram‘s sage comment stood out for me, “Strategy should drive technology investments, not the other way around.” It stood out because we often see the hope of these new technologies as a panacea and driving strategy decisions.
The majority of the new technologies rely, to varying degrees, on Artificial Intelligence. But the sobering reality is that up to 85% of AI projects in customer service fail to deliver on the initial promise (Gartner). And the failures can happen regardless of talent and budget. Facebook’s M is a prime example of how one of the world’s most prominent players can learn a hard lesson.
Identify clear and measurable goals before deciding on the selection of any new technology. You might be thinking, “Well, yeah,” but the promise of a quick fix through sexy technology precedes goal setting all too often. These technologies, in the right hands, with the right strategy can indeed be transformative for your business. But sometimes, we see technology being picked for technology’s sake.
“We Need Some AI”
With so much buzz and so many promises of increasing efficiency, we get asked about Artificial Intelligence a lot. Sometimes, it seems as though this request is simply so the company can eventually release press that they’re using AI. When this happens, we strive to turn the thinking back to their customers, and what the best experience will be. Often, the result is that AI (or some version of it) ends up on the roadmap, but just not right now.
But it’s not just AI where we see this kind of hope that technology will fix a customer service problem all on its own.
Custom Mobile App
A client of ours developed a custom mobile app to be used by their customers. Overall, the app was well-designed and offered a user-friendly interface to access account information. The initial hope was that the app would lessen the load on call center agents. In reality, it didn’t reduce call center load. Their IT team didn’t consider a vital truth when allowing technology to drive strategy; their customers didn’t want an app. It’s easier to call customer service and get an account balance than to download and set up an app. And in the end, our IVR system that automated most customer questions resulted in the call center load decrease they needed.
The notion of letting your customers talk to a “robot” that understands them is appealing on many levels. Conversational interfaces are the “CX holy grail” of each of the technologies listed in the first paragraph. Apple, Amazon, and Google have shown us the potential for talking to the cloud. So it’s easy to see how companies think they can do the same in customer service. However, trying to deploy speech recognition in the call center is different. Even simple directed speech interfaces over the phone are fraught with disappointments. We’ve seen call quality and dialects quickly turn promise into frustration.
In one case, we helped a client improve their internal network to solve much of the call quality issues. We also refined their call flows to be more efficient and accommodate both voice and touch-tone input.
Too Much IVR
Too much of a good thing can be, well, too much. Even the original customer service automation technology can fail without the right strategy. Callers can quickly be turned off by over-complicated IVR menu trees, which is caused by treating an IVR as a technology solution. Such a mindset will focus on enterprise needs, not customer needs. Your IVR needs to be an extension of your customer journeys, focused on customer needs.
Fixing IVRs that have become too complicated is one of our most common tasks for our new clients. Menu systems that were supposed to reduce hold times are increasing them because of callers “zeroing-out” to an agent. In those cases, our first question is, “Have you mapped your customer journeys?”
To Err is Human; To Correct, Divine
We understand the draw of the seductive technologies buzzing around CX. Hey, we’re techies too! But without a strategy, frustration is imminent. We can help with that. Get in touch with our team to learn how we can devise a technology strategy for your customers.