How Distance-Based Communication in Customer Service Enables Productivity Despite the Crisis
Would you rather pop to the supermarket or go to an online shop? For months now, many people have thought twice before going to a physical store. Covid-19 and social distancing measures have had a major impact on the analog economy.
However, the business world has not been standing still as many areas have become digital. An international study revealed that people have increasingly shopped online during the pandemic and that overall consumer demand has risen. At the same time, the coronavirus crisis has unsettled many customers and increased the need for advice.
Bottom line: Agile customer service that communicates reliably and efficiently with customers even in times of crisis is now more relevant than ever before.
Not an easy situation for a service team that often operates completely from home. It now faces the task of organizing its work processes in an intelligent manner in order to efficiently handle the mounting ticket pressure.
The good news, however, is that your service staff can work just as productively from home as they can in the on-site contact center. How so? Innovative solutions for distance-based communication.
In this blog post, you’ll discover:
- The challenges of inbound and outbound communication when working from home
- How technical solutions for distance-based communication help your agents to overcome these challenges
- How artificial intelligence makes the work of your customer service even more effective
The 3 Most Common Problems for Customer Service Outside the Contact Center
Yesterday was spent working in the contact center; today they’re alone in the living room. Many service employees have not only recently been forced to change their workplace, they also have to reorganize how they contact customers. Communication is not always as seamless as it should be. Agents working from home often face the following problems:
Changing working conditions and times
Those who travel to the same place every day and can be reached there at the same times via the same channels are a reliable point of contact for their customers. However, this often changes if the place and time of work are flexible: who will answer the phone when the children come home or when the doorbell rings? Can I also respond to my customer later on from the airport terminal?
In the future, work will be less and less tied to a fixed place or time, regardless of whether we’re in a crisis or not. That’s why service agents need communication solutions that accommodate this freedom and make customers feel like they’re always in good hands.
→ Distance-based communication must be possible across locations and offer solutions for both planned and unplanned absences.
Lack of integration into the system
Customer advisors working from home regularly struggle with not being fully integrated into the company’s internal service system. This leads to many problems: service staff cannot keep an eye on all channels, they cannot communicate sufficiently with colleagues and do not have access to crucial information. In addition, the risk of losing sensitive data increases.
→ Distance-based communication ensures that each employee is fully integrated into a data-secure multi-channel system.
Lack of equipment and configuration knowledge
Outside the contact center, employees have no access to sophisticated hardware such as physical ACD telephone systems. In addition, few have the know-how to handle complicated settings and configurations themselves. A high level of technical complexity poses an obstacle for employees and managers alike.
→ Solutions for distance-based communication should be easily accessible and operate with just a laptop and internet access.
Web-Based Solutions Enable Location-Independent Communication Between Agents and Customers
Web-based ACDs store data in the cloud, enabling it to be used across multiple locations. This way, it no longer matters where your service agent receives calls or responds to messages. All omnichannel functions are available to them wherever they have internet access: at home, in the office or on the road. In an ideal case, web-based solutions should work with integrated artificial intelligence.
Put simply, the functionality of distance-based communication can be described as follows:
- A customer approaches your company with their inquiry. The channels available to them are chat, email and telephone.
- The inquiry is received in the cloud-based omnichannel hub, where the AI analyzes the content and tone of the inquiry. The tickets are automatically classified during the pre-qualification phase. Artificial intelligence answers appropriate inquiries automatically, while it prioritizes the remaining inquiries for the human employees and provides dynamic recommended actions in real time.
- From the omnichannel hub, the inquiries are then delivered to the responsible or available service employee based on their skills. All relevant data such as processing times or reasons for contact are securely stored in the cloud.
- The employees only need internet access, a device and, if necessary, a headset. They sign on to their client with their current call number and are immediately fully integrated into the communication system.
Automation – How AI Supports You When Working from Home
Whereas humans are influenced by life circumstances, artificial intelligence has a decisive advantage: it is always available, constantly accessible and operates within seconds. As a result, communication tools that work with an integrated AI solution considerably facilitate distance-based communication.
- Chat, voice or email bots significantly reduce your team’s workload by providing automated, yet precise answers to recurring inquiries. These inquiries are directly reorganized and processed by the AI. This decreases the amount of tickets that actually reach your staff.
- For those inquiries that are not automatically answered, the AI assists its human colleagues. A smart pre-classification phase and automatically generated response suggestions make processing faster and more efficient.
- AI solutions absorb periods of absence or peaks in customer service. Whatever the situation, customers will receive a rapid response. This way, AI optimizes the customer experience and strengthens trust between customer and company.
parlamind is a Berlin-based start-up for Artificial Intelligence in Customer Service. The parlamind AI understands incoming messages from customers on a semantic level and thus determining intents, specific content and the mood of the customer in the message. Equipped with these skills, the AI engages in customer dialogue independently and quickly carries out the associated processes. Latest research results from the fields of computational linguistics and machine learning form the basis for the continuous further development of parlamind AI technology. parlamind has been part of the 4TechnologyGroup since July 2018. The 4TechnologyGroup is an association of technology companies from the communications and AI sector. Today companies worldwide in the industries of e-commerce, information and communication technology, energy management, logistics and financial services use parlamind’s AI solutions. More than 20 employees work continuously on the further development and marketing of this unique technology “Made in Germany”.
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