Customer service and the path to digital transformation

The pressure’s on! The competitive factor enterprises must have to get ahead of the digital revolution is digital customer engagement. And not just any digital conversation – it needs to feature the dynamic duo of artificial intelligence and live assistance to provide convenient, compelling and relevant experiences. Marina Kalika looks at the six components required to do digital conversations right.
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Businesses must learn to offer exceptional customer service on digital channels.

Want to positively influence your brand’s reputation? Invest in digital transformation.

Digital customer service solutions and best practices enable you to achieve stellar business results: increased customer lifetime value, reduced customer churn, lowered operational costs, and increased customer satisfaction.

Today, digital transformation requires integrating artificial intelligence into your customer service solutions. In Forrester’s “Predictions 2017: Artificial Intelligence Will Drive The Insights Revolution” report, James McCormick predicts that investment in AI will triple in 2017, and will be used to enhance customer engagements.

Enterprises who have already invested in AI for their customer support and marketing testify that cognitive intelligence and machine learning have allowed them to better understand and relate to their customers, resulting in personalization that saves billions of dollars.

These brands understand that consumers in every industry demand speed, relevance, and convenience on the channel of their choice, and this has become the catalyst for them to implement AI strategies. In order to meet their customer demands, they must take an omni-channel approach, joining the quickly-spreading digital revolution. A recent McKinsey article says that if a brand wants to get ahead of the digital revolution, they have to provide “compelling and relevant customer experiences no matter where their customers choose to interact.”

 

So as companies embark on the path to digital transformation, how can they foster compelling and relevant conversations with customers?

Here are 6 tips on how to do digital conversations right:

  1. Real-time customer segment targeting. The cleverest customer engagement content will not do much good if it’s presented to the wrong customer at the wrong time, not to mention, time and resources will be inefficiently consumed. A business rule is the logic that determines when, where, and how to display (or suppress) engagement on the brand’s website. Based on this logic the rule will cause a specific engagement action to take place.
  2. Omni-channel conversational design. Engagement windows define the customer experience, so make sure they are dynamic, and stay in the customer’s sight as they navigate your website so that contact and context are never lost. Brand consistency calls for a coherent user interface design that adapts to whichever communication channel the customer uses, whether on desktop, mobile, in-app, or SMS channels and whether it is virtual or live assistance.
  3. Effortless automated conversations. Automated conversations involve the aid of a virtual assistant (VA) who is able to understand the intent of an inquiry. The VA must be able to understand a consumer’s natural language and recognize slang, typos or misspellings, synonyms, unstructured content, and complex grammar. It must be able to ask clarifying questions when needed, and have the ability to reference context from past conversations to personalize responses or anticipate needs. It should also be deeply integrated to reference and update third-party data such as the enterprise CRM system.
  4. Elegant and efficient live agent routing. Customers should be presented with a customized message based on whether a) an agent is available, b) agents are busy during hours of operation, or c) it’s outside hours of operation. If a customer is being routed from a virtual assistant conversation, they should be seamlessly transferred to the appropriate live agent group within the same customer interface. The live agent should also receive the full transcript, including any custom data that was collected through the interaction.
  5. Integrated reporting dashboard. Full end-to-end visibility from the start of the VA interaction through the end of the live chat ensures accurate reporting and VoC insights, and it informs necessary improvements. When the two interactions are integrated, the insights gathered during these engagements lead to shortened live agent handle time, higher live agent close rates, lower live agent transfer rates, higher live agent satisfaction rates, and virtual assistant optimization. 
  6. Virtual assistant learning loop. Sometimes, the VA may not understand the details of the inquiry and may respond with a message like “I’m sorry. I didn’t understand,” and the customer is at risk of leaving the conversation. As a solution, a live agent can inform the VA behind the scenes, enabling it to better understand the question. With a hidden agent, the experience is positive for the customer, they stay in the channel they started in, there’s no escalation or waiting, and the customer gains confidence in the VA. Plus, the live agent’s time is used more efficiently by answering more complex questions. However, if the VA is still unable to answer the question, a seamless escalation path to a live chat agent can be used. All agent input is logged for NLU engine and intent learning for the VA to close the continuous learning loop.

To do digital conversations right, market-leading brands need to engage their customers with the optimal combination of virtual assistant and live customer interactions in digital channels, delivering intelligent automated conversations and leading consumers to self-serve.

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Marina Kalika

About Marina Kalika

Marina Kalika is director of marketing, responsible for the digital portfolio in the Enterprise Division of Nuance Communications. Prior to Nuance's acquisition of TouchCommerce, Marina was responsible for all product marketing at TouchCommerce.She has over 25 years of leadership experience in the hi-tech industry at various corporations, including Xerox, managing every aspect of the product and customer life cycle: from industry research, and requirements gathering to product development and marketing, all the way through to sales and customer support. Marina’s passion is in translating product features and functions into a succinct marketing message that customers can appreciate and consume.