From the endless wait for the snail mail to posting complaints on social media, customer service has undergone a paradigm shift. And computers and telephony have certainly made the job easier for customers and agents alike. Not only does it reduce the time taken for the issue to reach the contact center, but also gives agents quick access to data to resolve the issue. However, there is one annoying factor that affects the quality of customer service: lack of context.

If the agent doesn’t have the necessary details on hand, he or she has to spend more time collecting information and less time acting on the issue. Ideally, agents should spend less time looking for information and more time making a positive customer service impression on the customer. Here’s what an ideal customer interaction looks like:

 Your printer has just stopped working. You can see that it’s switched on and you perform the customary restart but still nothing. When you decide to contact the company’s customer service team, there’s a message blinking on your screen—the guys from the printer company want you to accept their call request. 

 TechSupport: Hi John, this is Chris from Tech Support. We’ve received a report that your printer stopped working ten minutes ago. With your permission, I’d like to connect to your printer and perform a remote diagnostic test. 

You: Hi…. (barely concealing surprise) um.. sure, please go ahead.

<30 seconds later>

TechSupport: It seems like a minor hardware malfunction. Don’t worry, we’ll get the faulty component replaced for free.

You: Oh okay, where can I drop the printer off?

TechSupport: That won’t be necessary. One of our field agents will pick it up today and deliver it back to you when it’s fixed.

You: Wow, I’ll wait for them then.

Tech Support: I’m really sorry that this should happen within 6 months of your purchase. As a token of our apology, would you like to get a free cartridge refill?

You: Oh sure. Thank you very much.

Doesn’t the above conversation sound like a breath of fresh air from the regular, tiring customer service interactions? What makes it different from the oh-so-familiar interaction with a customer support agent? It is the fact that the agent could gauge details about the customer during the course of the interaction, without asking the customer too many questions. When this happens the customer is less hassled and becomes assured that the issue is in safe hands.

In short, this conversation is rich in context and that is why the issue is resolved so quickly. How do you ensure this happens for your own customer service interactions? By making the best use of technology to obtain context and add the right dose of empathy wherever necessary. And while we’re talking about technology, let’s look at the emerging ones that are poised to leave a serious impact in the future: Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence.

IoT is the ‘In’ Thing:

In simple words, Internet of Things is a network of interconnected objects where transfer and sharing of data is possible. So, how is it used in customer service?

In the above scenario, with the advent of IoT, the printer is now part of a large network of interconnected systems. It sends periodic information about its working, which, in turn, is analysed continuously by the company. When an anomaly is detected, information is processed by the software and conveyed to customer service. Thus, when customers contact the reps, they have enough context to deal with the issue, instead of wasting time on enquiring about minor details like customer name, and printer model. Therefore, the agent can focus on the one factor that matters— diagnosing the problem.

Thanks to remote access, the agent can even perform hassle-free detection of the issue. With the seamless integration of customer information as well as past purchases, the agent can deduce that the person is a new customer and thus can offer a refill. What does it result in? A surprised and happy customer who has all praise for your brand.

(AI)ding Customer Service

Apart from enquiring about the trivial details, what else consumes a lot of customer service agents’ time? Performing repetitive tasks that are associated with minor issues. Even this will become a thing of the past, thanks to Artificial Intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence involves training systems to mimic certain human processes such as problem-solving, learning, and speech recognition.  By providing the machine with the appropriate material and training, they can implement certain tasks. What happens when AI is implemented in customer service?  

  •  Instantaneous answering of queries and looking for solutions, since the system is programmed to learn from customer interactions.
  • With the integration of AI into chatbots, live chats will be customer-centric and enriched with context.
  • Hassle-free monitoring the quality of self-help articles and creating new ones.
  • When the customer is empowered with finding solutions for simple issues, the agent steps in only for pressing issues and thus can focus on significant matters, like building relationships with customers.

 What else would you need?

Excellent customer service can cast a spell on the customer. When you have the magic wand of technology in your hand, all you need is the right incantation (i.e. empathy) to work wonders. With technology that provides enough context and empathy to create an impact on the customer, transform your happy customers into loyal ones.


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