Chris Proctor, CEO Oneserve
The rise of social media has created a platform for disgruntled customers to publicly and freely complain about poor service or faulty products, which can have not only damaging effects on business’ reputation but also financial consequences. It’s no secret that the key to successful customer service is through open communication and real-time responses and current technologies are now bridging the gap that has grown so wide in recent years.
In the age of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data and social media, there is a great opportunity for businesses to prevent reputation from being hindered and to really engage with customers on a personal level to ensure a fruitful relationship.
Real time chat bots
When a customer has made a complaint, it’s no longer satisfactory to merely respond. Businesses must do so quickly and with all the relevant information required to ensure customers are satisfied. Implementing chatbots is becoming a business imperative for organisations with extensive customer needs. Chatbots come in a variety of forms – some backed purely by AI and machine learning, other combining layers of human intelligence with AI, creating scripted decision trees written by dedicated staff to navigate the bots to deliver the best results.
Those AI chatbots powered by neural machine learning constantly learn and develop. Mimicking the human brain, deep machine learning algorithms learn and store historical data sets. From analysing this data, it can identify trends based on the data and ultimately learn to autonomously maintain its own database of responses, without any human interaction – albeit this is quite far off from being commercialised at the moment.
Chatbots create an instantaneous, open all hour’s human connection between the customer and business, creating an imperative element of trust. Previously, one would have to wait hours, days or even a week for a response which causes niggling frustration. With a chatbot, your customers believe they are speaking to someone personally who will endeavour to answer all their queries there and then.
Joining the dots
There is an influx of data that has become available for companies, yet they still don’t full understand how to utilise it to its best ability. Businesses need to prevent themselves from becoming jaded by technology innovations and continue to put human needs and emotions first.
By storing and gaining insight of what customers want, businesses can use data to track certain behaviours and understand what parts of their business are causing discontent. Data management and analytics give a more holistic understanding of customers, connecting the dots between where they live, how many times they renew their contracts, and even when they put their heating on? These are all important in tracking human behaviour and then predicting their concerns. This data can also be used in targeted marketing, to retain and acquire new customers.
Predicting when things go wrong
Too many businesses make the mistake of relying on a recovery strategy, rather than focusing on a preventative one. The ultimate aim of field service management is to create an effective workforce which then ripples into happy customers and ultimately, a successful business.
The overwhelming cause of machine downtime is due to technical faults and aging, unreliable machinery. Yet, nearly all instances (94%) can be prevented simply by harnessing readily available technologies. Predictive maintenance software uses machine learning algorithms to analyse data that is collected from sensors on machines that monitor performance 24/7. The software learns when and how a machine will potentially fail then triggering remedial actions to get correctly qualified operatives equipped and on-site before the machine failure occurs. Ultimately, this will eliminate all sense of discontent among customers as an engineer will be present to fix their machine, if consumer friendly, or internal machines will be fixed before they break thereby removing any knock-on effect throughout the business and the consumer base.
Creating a more efficient workforce
Implementation of AI in the workforce has received a huge amount of scaremongering media hype. Of course, AI will replace some jobs, but most importantly, it will create more efficiently placed jobs. By applying AI into machine sensors to understand when machines are going to break, and how it needs to be fixed, the correct engineer can be called out, equipped with appropriate machinery and knowledge; this reduces time wastage by 37 hours every year.
Creating a more efficient workforce internally will have brilliant results for overall customer service. There are countless complaints about customers not receiving the right engineer to fix their machinery, but showing an understanding to customers about what has broken and how to fix it will establish a strong relationship.
Ultimately, technology is crucial in improving customer service. Implementing AI will ensure that precious human time is spent where it’s needed most, rather than on tasks that could easily be undertaken by a machine. This will create a stronger relationship between the company and clients, strengthening your brand as a loyal, trustworthy business that cares and avoid any potential for reputational damage.