Every CIO wants to reduce the cost of their contact center. But it’s not their only customer concern. They also want to improve the customer experience.
The ideas seem in complete contrast. As you would expect, most of the options to reduce contact center expenses hurt the customer experience. So how can IT meet competing customer service priorities and reduce contact center costs while improving the customer experience?
Conventionally, IT merges and integrates systems. This has proven difficult in customer service though, because businesses have needed to add digital channels as they’ve developed, resulting in higher costs to own and maintain the platforms. At the same time, the importance of customer service has grown, with 60% of customers now caring more about customer service when deciding which brand to purchase from and being willing to change brands after just two poor interactions, according to CCW Digital. Ballooning expenses have seemingly become a necessity to meet customer expectations.
The good news is there is a solution that enables IT to meet competing customer service priorities, and it involves merging and integrating channels onto a single platform. We call it the Unified Conversational Customer Service Platform.
The Unified Conversational Customer Service Platform
We had a simple premise in mind when we built the Unified Conversational Customer Service Platform: customer service is terrible, and there has to be a way to make it better.
It was because of this that we started with improving the most expensive yet frustrating channel: voice/phone. However, it quickly grew to a single platform for the conversational channels: voice, web or mobile chat, and text.
Here’s how it works:
- Customers make contact via a conversational channel and reach the Intelligent Virtual Contact Center, where an intelligent virtual agent (IVA) greets them conversationally, authenticates them, and processes their intent. For high frequency, straightforward intents, the IVA helps the customer through self service, while for more complex issues, the IVA intelligently routes the customer to the live agent best suited to help them.
- Every single interaction and event is recorded in its entirety and connected with data from enterprise systems in the Unified Contact Data Platform. The data is able to be queried against and organized to provide a complete, clear view of customers as a whole and individual interactions.
- Data then flows into the Customer Service Insights Hub and is organized into three portals - Customer Insights, Intelligent Virtual Contact Center Insights, and Operational Insights. Insights are available in real time and help you understand and optimize your customer service and wider operations.
Why the Unified Conversational Customer Service Platform Reduces Costs
Let’s start with the obvious: you’re able to consolidate what were three customer service platforms into one. This doesn’t just mean spending on two less platforms, but also means you’re paying less to maintain, integrate, and improve your conversational customer service channels.
The savings extend beyond that integration to how it works. Firstly, by enabling self service for simple issues, customer service representatives (CSRs) are able to be reserved for more important tasks. They also spend significantly less time on every interaction due to the IVA not just intelligently routing to the right CSRs, but also authenticating and determining the intent of customers when they first make contact - turning the cost of a call from approximately a dollar per minute to just pennies for the same time. For businesses with a high call volume, this can bring savings of millions each quarter on just the voice channel.
Finally, the Customer Service Insights Hub provides insights to help you continue to reduce costs moving forward. The Intelligent Virtual Contact Center Insights Portal shows why customers are contacting you, how successful each interaction is, where interactions are going right, where they can be improved, and more. This allows you to further optimize the Intelligent Virtual Contact Center for continued efficiencies. Meanwhile, the Customer Insights Portal and Operations Insights Portal inform how to best serve customers and improve operations across the business, presenting the opportunity for wider savings.
How the Unified Conversational Customer Service Platform Improves the Customer Experience
Reducing expenses isn’t the only benefit of taking tasks out of the CSRs’ hands - it also improves the customer experience. The Unified Conversational Customer Service Platform gives the customer the power to control their experience.
Think back to when you last called a large company or agency. You were probably greeted with a robotic voice thanking you for calling and asking you to listen carefully because the menu had recently changed. Your instant response may have been an eye roll and the thought that you’re going to go on hold.
The IVA replaces this with a conversational experience across all conversational channels. You’re greeted warmly, then asked how you can be helped. You don’t need to try to decide which menu item your issue fits best, knowing it may be a long time before you can return to the main menu, regardless of whether it’s voice or text based. The IVA then confirms who you are and either allows you to resolve your issue via self service - eliminating any need for hold time - or intelligently routes you to the person best positioned to help you with all of the information you provided.
Overall, it’s a much smoother, simpler, and customer-controlled experience. The self-service capabilities also mean that help isn’t limited to business hours, opening up the possibility for 24/7 service across conversational channels.
How We Build the Unified Conversational Customer Service Platform
Building an effective customer service platform goes beyond technology - it’s about creating something that meets the needs for your employees and your customers. As such, our team of software engineers, data engineers, and decision scientists work closely with our conversational designers and digital experience designers throughout our five-step process - discover, prototype, launch, build, and optimize - to create a platform that meets the needs of all stakeholders.
As an AWS Select partner, we leverage Amazon Connect, Lex, Lambda, and associated technologies to create the Unified Conversational Customer Service Platform. There are alternative technologies that other companies use, but we believe that AWS’s wide range of tools, advanced AI, cross-channel functionality, and ability to integrate seamlessly make it the best option.
If you want to learn more about the Unified Conversational Customer Service Platform or to just talk more broadly about how IT can support customer service, please feel free to reach out.