Thinking

Putting Call Centres on Hold

Imagine a world where you’re never placed on hold. No annoying music, no frustrating delays, no premium charges to your phone bill. Too good to be true? Stay with us.

Customer interaction is changing, and changing fast. Technology is becoming faster and smarter, and consumer expectations of efficiency are growing. Picking up the phone to ask a question or have a moan is old-fashioned; an inconvenience compared to the immediate nature of digital communications.

For a second, park that moment when you head to Twitter to publicly question or shame a company. In fact, take a step back. Think about how you’ve been trying to resolve the issue with said company. Where throughout the process you may have emailed or called in, that’s fast becoming displaced by a world of chatbots. But chatbots with a social twist.

 

CHATBOTS: THE SOCIAL WHIZZ KIDS

Chatbots are computer programmes designed to conduct conversations with humans. They’ve been around for a long time – the first ever coded “chatterbot”, ELIZA, was created in 1966 – but it’s in recent years that they’ve exploded in popularity and begun to excel in capability. With their ability to deal with huge amounts of data and improve as they work through the application of deep learning algorithms, they have the potential to communicate with users on an impressive level.

Take Sure, the insurance app which uses real time data, like location and customer behaviour, to offer customised insurance options via its integrated virtual assistant. Or how about Insurify, whose chatbot helps users compare car insurance policies with a single picture of their vehicle’s numberplate. Then there’s SPIXII, the chatbot which can cross and up-sell using information from previous behaviours and purchases when giving customers policy options.

All of these chatbots have something in common – they all talk to their customers directly through social media apps such as Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp. No call centres – or humans – required.

The direct reach social media offers is undeniable and holds huge appeal and convenience for both business and client. And it’s no wonder that companies are turning to Facebook to communicate with their customers – Millennials, who by 2025 will account for 75% of the global workforce, currently make up 68% of Facebook’s near-2 billion users. Combine that with the speed and efficiency of AI technology and human counterparts just don’t compare.

 

SO CUSTOMER SERVICE JOBS ARE DOOMED?

Hold the phone (sorry).

AI is already being integrated into client support functions, and whilst it is changing roles within customer communication through the use of chatbots and more, it’s not altogether replacing all customer service jobs.

For example, take insurance claims: let’s be honest you’re never going to look back on making a claim as one of those brilliant experiences. You’ve probably just had a car crash, broken your leg or been burgled. But even so, it can be a great digital experience.

Take Tällt’s client WPA and their new autonomous operating system, DELOS, which helps its healthcare insurance staff make the right decisions, every time. So far it has authorised 40,000 complex healthcare claims with 100% accuracy. It’s also resulted in staff training time being reduced by 95%, allowing employees to focus on improving other skills, such as the more ‘human’ elements of customer service.

Simply put, AI takes the hassle out of customer service. Customers can have their questions and complaints answered, and get told quickly and accurately whether their claims are successful. From a business perspective, AI can save huge amounts of money for companies by quickly detecting fraudulent claims. According to the Association of British Insurers, insurance companies in the UK alone uncover 350 fraudulent claims worth £3.6 million every single day. With further advancements in AI technology, these numbers could improve even more.

 

REINVENT & REDEPLOY

So yes, call centres will soon become a thing of the past. It’s important to point out, however, this change shouldn’t be seen as a threat. Call centres may be reducing in size, but customer service as a whole is most certainly improving. AI technology offers an opportunity to reinvent and redeploy resources. By taking over repetitive and data-heavy tasks, companies can use the time and money saved through the use of AI to train their staff in new, rewarding roles that will help continue to push the business forward.

AI technology can and will improve businesses, aiding in various aspects from better product delivery to smarter communication. And it’s true, AI’s will take selective jobs from some, but as a result it’s giving people the opportunity to become the driving force of businesses once more, evolving right alongside technology.

 

– Posted by –

Emily Peters – Senior Researcher

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