How to design a CX that saves money and minimizes customer effort

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The past few years have been turbulent for business and, unfortunately, the short-term economic outlook, with rumors of a recession turning into a near-constant tremor, looks murky at best. For customer experience (CX) managers, these precarious times usually mean two things: reducing costs and automating as much as possible. To these ends, doubling the number of chatbots and customer-facing automation solutions is certainly an enticing proposition, so it’s no wonder the chatbot industry is set to grow to a $102 billion industry. by 2026, compared to $17 billion in 2020.

Chatbots can’t be more human than humans

However, the current crop of chatbots has an abysmal reputation with consumers and the businesses that deploy them. And, of course, you still need to employ human agents in the most valuable customer service conversations. Therefore, the success of customer experience in this next chapter of our economy will not be determined by who automates the most via chatbots. It will be in their ability to best deploy a division of labor between bots and human agents that puts bots in the best position to succeed at lower cost, and humans in the best position to impact outcomes.

Here are three ways CX leaders can start doing it today.

1. When deploying bots, “value-based routing” is a must

The sad reality is that I see little to no routing thought when it comes to chatbot deployments. There seems to be a “deviation at all costs” mentality where the first line of engagement is always a bot. As consumers, we’ve all experienced horrible results: no matter what your request is, you inevitably encounter a bot at first, and it’s only after you’ve exhausted your patience and asked for a human that you are transferred to another channeler. (I hope it’s to a human, but it’s often to email support or an FAQ.)

CX managers need to take a much more thoughtful approach to routing by first understanding that not all requests need to be attempted by a bot first. The upfront planning to determine which types of interactions are best left to human agents will pay huge dividends in CSAT and NPS scores.

To maximize savings while maintaining or even improving the quality of customer service interactions, CX managers should implement a “value-based routing” system of bot deployment. This means that low value interactions will automatically route to bots, and high value interactions will automatically route to humans. Value is measured by the risk of revenue loss and the potential for revenue gain.

This contrasts with “complexity-based routing”, where the distinction between bot-directed and human-directed requests is based solely on the complexity of the interaction (i.e. the technical nature of the request).

Often there is an overlap between low value and low complexity. However, in very important circumstances they differ. Product inquiries are a common example. Often these requests can be “resolved” by extracting simple product information and sharing it with the customer, which is quite simple and can be easily handled by a bot.

However, delegating product inquiries to a bot is a huge missed opportunity. If a consumer asks about a product, chances are they are interested in buying it. A well-equipped human agent in this situation can develop a relationship with the customer, learn more about their interests and why they are specifically interested in that product to create a much more enjoyable and productive customer experience. The result is a much higher purchase probability (and likely repeat customer purchases) than the bot could achieve by simply solving the request.

By routing a single product request to a human, the brand can generate an additional amount of revenue or loyalty. But scaled over time, the value-based routing system can potentially make or break the costs of a CX organization, especially during turbulent economic times.

2. Use empathy on a large scale

As businesses grow, it’s hard to maintain great, one-to-one customer service – what worked for 1,000 customers won’t work for 100,000. CX leaders need to invest in tools and processes that result in a “large-scale empathy” or personalized, technology-based insights that can create a real connection with a customer.

In practice, empathy at scale gives human customer service representatives valuable information such as the weather where the customer is calling from or what they have recently purchased. CX reps can use this data to connect with each customer and get their feedback on how the product is working for them. When genuine, natural conversation is paired with effective problem solving, you’ve laid the foundation for a loyal customer who trusts your brand.

And that kind of empathy is exactly what customers demand. With 68% of consumers interacting with brands expecting empathy [subscription required]only 38% of consumers really feel like brands do constantly show empathy. Needless to say, a chatbot alone cannot provide the empathetic experience people are looking for. But humans have this ability. And the technology is available to enable them to be empathetic and build human-to-human relationships in every conversation.

And there are real consequences when customer expectations are not met. In Peloton’s case, their burgeoning word-of-mouth success came to an abrupt halt in 2021, largely due to hundreds of disgruntled customers publicly sharing their bad experiences. Peloton’s mistake was not only that they couldn’t solve their customers’ problems, but they also didn’t have a trained and equipped CX team to show empathy and understanding. If customers are willing to share their concerns or issues directly with the company, the company should recognize these requests not only as valid but also as valuable.

3. Deploy bot-human collaboration that minimizes customer effort

The goal of CX, and the focus of any well-designed CX integration, is to quickly and easily solve the customer’s problem. We recommend that all of our clients prioritize the Customer Effort Score (CES) metric when evaluating the success of their CX program. The CES is a survey sent to consumers after an interaction with a brand that asks them: “How easy was it to solve your problem?”

CES is a simple yet incredibly powerful metric that has proven to be the best indicator of customer loyalty. When it comes to improving CES, bots and humans can equal more than the sum of their parts if they can share information, learn, and escalate customer issues seamlessly, achieving resolution. in as few steps as possible.

There are two processes leaders need to put in place to achieve the magic of the 1+1=3 CX equation. First, whenever a consumer explicitly requests to speak to a human, that request must be honored. There are few worse customer experiences than asking for an agent and getting blocked. Think about your last phone call to your local cable company. Second, when a request is passed from a bot to a human, the transfer must be seamless. All required information about the consumer and why they engaged in a conversation in the first place should be provided to the agent in the way that most quickly allows them to resume the conversation. Every time the consumer needs to repeat something, they are trying harder than they should.

Every business works hard to attract customers, and a poor CX can be a useless fumble at the finish line. In times of economic uncertainty, any escape becomes incredibly expensive. To create lasting, positive customer relationships and win their business, decision makers need to use CX technology to solve problems better and do it as efficiently as possible. Customer experience should be viewed as an omnichannel operation, with chatbots, technology, and humans all working together to solve customer problems and build positive personal relationships with customers. As with any kind of technology, chatbots are best used to enhance the customer experience, not replace it.

Amit Sood is CTO and Product Manager at Simplr.


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