At a Salesforce conference in 2019, AirAsia’s chief customer happiness officer Adam Geneave announced that the airline would be closing all their inbound call centers, and instead using an AI-powered chatbot to handle customer inquiries.
Geneave put it quite simply, “Nobody wants to sit on hold to a voice call center anymore. Life is about messaging.”
As a result, the company downsized from over 11,000 customer service agents to around 100, with the vast majority of requests being handled automatically by their chatbot, Ava, and only complex issues being passed up the chain to human operators. The result – 75% of issues being resolved automatically, and customer satisfaction scores in excess of 90%.
It’s not a unique story. Businesses across the globe are increasingly turning to integrated chatbots as a way to provide better customer service, reduce waiting times and cut costs.
We’ve explored the top 8 reasons for making the move from voice to chat, and the potential benefits for your business, and your customers.
Less pressure, less stress
Call center work has high rates of staff turnover – it’s not surprising when you consider the pressure staff are under, the emotional toll of dealing with frustrated, angry, and sometimes abusive customers, and the repetitive nature of the role.
Moving to a chat-based service means that many of the low-level tasks are handled automatically, so agents can focus on more complex issues. Unlike on the phone, they have the time and space to consider their responses, prioritize issues, and seek manager support if needed.
Happy agents give better service
A more relaxed working environment isn’t just great for employee welfare – it means a better experience for your customers. Less pressure means employees feel more empowered to take ownership of issues, provide a friendlier, more helpful service, and crucially, they are likely to stick around.
That means an end to the constant “revolving door” recruitment process, a substantial reduction in your training and onboarding costs, and a more consistent level of service for your customers.
Customer convenience means increased sales
Voice calls literally make it a chore for customers to buy from you. There’s nothing more likely to make a prospective buyer reconsider their decision than hanging around on hold for minutes on end, navigating a confusing voice menu, or having to painstakingly type their payment details into a phone keypad.
Moving to chat means lower wait times to connect with an agent, a simple interface to input card numbers or order details, and a more natural style of conversation. Customers don’t mind having to wait a few minutes for a response if they’re not left hanging on the phone. They can put in a request, and get on with their life until an agent pings them back.
A more intuitive user experience
Let’s be honest, nowadays we pretty much reserve voice calls for special occasions – most of us run our daily lives via text, whether that’s making plans with friends, updating colleagues on a project, or checking in with the family. So why should a business be any different?
Customers don’t want to take time out of their schedule for lengthy voice calls, they want to let your business know what they need, receive a response, and move on with their day. And if they get the information they need, they don’t really care whether it was sent by a bot or a human agent – what matters is the convenience.
Prioritizing tickets just got easier
On the phone, the next call is the next priority – it’s that simple. Of course, in practice, that means a customer with a critical issue may be waiting 6th in line in your phone queue (and getting more frustrated by the minute) while your agents deal with routine requests from other customers.
With a text-based service, you can triage requests and prioritize them on the fly – simple updates such as shipment tracking can be handled immediately by a chatbot, more complex issues are passed to human agents for that personal touch, and critical issues can be prioritized and escalated to senior staff to handle – without the customer having to jump through a ton of hoops to get there.
Always-on customer service
Running a 24/7 call center is an expensive prospect, but with a chatbot, it’s a simple proposition. Even if you don’t have expert staff on hand around the clock, you can still offer customers resolution on the most common issues, using AI. For example, reordering an urgently needed product, checking a tracking code, or changing a delivery date.
And if customers still need to be put in touch with a human, they’re a lot happier when they know their issue has been logged, and they have been given a date and time for when the next available operator will be online, rather than leaving a voice message and wondering when they might hear back.
Integrated communication across channels
The key to customer satisfaction is making their life easy. That means being available via whatever channel they’re most comfortable with, whether that’s a website chat, WhatsApp conversation, Facebook message, or Twitter DM. With an automated chatbot that integrates with your CRM or ticketing system, keeping track of conversations across different channels is simple.
No more duplicating tickets because your social media team logged a request via Twitter which your support desk already received in an email. Automation lets you collate and log all communications with a single customer into one complete history, allowing you to deliver an efficient user experience.
A win-win for customers and companies
The most convincing reason to move to a message-based rather than a phone-based customer service function is pretty simple – it’s better for everyone involved.
From the customer’s perspective, they have support on-demand via whatever platform they feel most comfortable using, whether that’s SMS, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, or the next big thing. They don’t have to worry about queues, peak times or opening hours, everything is available 24/7. And there’s no more tinny hold music, endless voice menus, or premium rate phone tariffs.
For the business, staffing costs are much lower, and employees are less stressed, better engaged, and less likely to quit their job. Reviewing, analyzing, and prioritizing tickets is simple, and the majority of requests can be handled immediately by an automated chatbot, so resolution times are extremely low. Happier customers mean more repeat business, and ultimately, a much healthier bottom line.
Adelante helps businesses of all shapes and sizes to implement intelligent automated systems like this, allowing them to scale faster and reach their financial objectives sooner, by reducing unnecessary spending and increasing efficiency.
To find out more, why not give us a call to talk about how your business could benefit by moving away from phone calls and embracing a message-based support service.