In today’s age of instant communication, consumers have higher expectations when it comes to customer service — and, fortunately, many companies are starting to learn to adjust to this new standard. Case in point: According to a 2017 American Express report, 81 percent of all U.S. consumers now say companies are meeting or exceeding their customer service expectations, a 14 percent increase from 2014.
Making better use of technology is merely one strategy companies are using to meet growing consumer expectations. Here are three ways cognitive technology is helping companies keep consumers satisfied.
1. Providing Faster Service
Because technology now plays a bigger and more significant role in resolving service and support requests, consumers now expect more seamless and efficient service. Indeed, expectations continue to evolve. For example, in 2014, customers were willing to wait 13 minutes on hold over the phone. But by 2017, just two-thirds of customers conceded they were only willing to wait on hold for two minutes, while 13 percent regarded no wait time as acceptable.
To meet customers’ demands, companies are increasingly turning to automated solutions powered by cognitive technology. In particular, AI-powered chatbots are now able to interpret the typing inputted by consumers through live chat tools in order to resolve more one-off customer service inquiries.
Meantime, interactive voice response systems can perform similar functions for phone inquiries by using natural language processing to interpret customers’ oral commands and offering relevant menu options. Ultimately, using these types of tools can save customers time and boost satisfaction rates. Moreover, 6 in 10 customers say they prefer these types of automated self-service options versus waiting to speak with a live agent, according to American Express.
2. Streamlining Access to Human Support
While customers appreciate the speed of automated self-service options, when it comes to resolving complex inquiries, they also expect to be able to reach a live agent in a timely manner. And that certainly should come as no surprise. In fact, the inability to reach a live agent continues to be the biggest customer service complaint amongst U.S. consumers, according to Consumer Reports.
To ensure customers eventually reach a live agent when necessary, forward-thinking companies like Aspect are deploying cloud contact center software solutions that integrate both automated and human support channels. Cloud contact centers that support AI-powered automated tools like chatbots and IVR systems can more quickly and efficiently identify support requests that require human support and route them to available representatives.
Indeed, this integration of automated and live support reduces the number of routine inquiries human representatives need to handle, thereby freeing up their time to assist customers who require a more hands-on approach.
3. Providing More Personalized Care
The desire to quickly reach a live support rep reflects a broader demand amongst consumers: more personalized care. In fact, today’s consumers want assurances that they’re viewed as more than just a number to the companies in which they patronize. As such, approximately 6 out of 10 Millennials say they’re willing to provide their personal information to companies in exchange for more customized offers, discounts and product recommendations, according to Salesforce.
To further meet consumer expectations regarding more personalized care, cognitive technology-powered recommendation engines are also helping companies meet this demand. For instance, Amazon’s recommendation engine uses visitors’ browsing and purchase history to suggest other products customers might find appealing.
Moreover, contact center platforms with AI analytics tools can use recommendation engines to review customer purchase histories and prompt live support reps with upsell suggestions that match an individual’s buyer profile. Ultimately, this enables companies to deliver a more customized buying experience and thereby boosts customer satisfaction.
Faster automated service, more streamlined access to live agent support and more personalized care are three ways cognitive technology is helping companies keep up with customer expectations. By automatically handling routine inquiries, flagging inquiries that need a more a hands-on approach and delivering customers customized offers, cognitive technology is boosting customer satisfaction and proving that automated efficiency and good customer service can go hand in hand.
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