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Tuesday, 17 October 2017 05:58

Customer service excellence – the digital way

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There is a small but decisive revolution taking place in the world of brands. Slowly and steadily brands are dedicating their energies towards excellence in providing customer care digitally. Some have taken it as an imperative while others are doing it to save on costs but the fact remains that work has already begun on this front at every level. 

I am penning down this article wearing two hats – one as the marketing head at Tata Sky and the other as a consumer of products and services, be it apparel, gadgets, car, F&B, banking et al. 

How many of us can accept the notion that ATM machines that dole out crisp freshly-minted notes are also performing ‘customer self service’. These machines provide us with account balance, details of last 5 transactions, change of password and service requests such as new cheque book. Basically it is a type of electronic support that allows customers to use technology to access information and perform routine tasks without requiring the assistance of a live customer service representative. 

 Customers, these days expects a self-service option for handling questions and complaints, and half of them prefer to use self-service over the phone. Today’s customers demand the ability to resolve issues on their own and brands have realized that digital help is around the corner. 

Some experts are already suggesting that customer service is going to be a simple 3-step business process going forward. The first step will involve customers who will opt for self-service solution for the most basic issues. Second step will be the one where brands will rely on Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered chatbots to answer high-level questions such as FAQs. And then the third step will be cut out for more complex issues, wherein customers will be able to turn to specialized agents for resolution.

I am able to crystal gaze and see that Chatbots will change the role that human agents play in the customer service cycle. In my own industry by incorporating front-end AI chatbots and AI-assisted human agent, there is a possibility of reducing the level of effort and time spent solving a customer’s issue. The very thought that customers will spend less than half the current time in resolving their queries is like a dream come true. Chatbots are the most prevalent digital platform that is trying to provide customer delight, the same way we humans would do. Moving ahead, my kind of industries are putting in a dash of Artificial Intelligence to make the most of it. 

It is a known fact that in the past five years consumers have increased their use of social media by at least 50% while their use of SMS, email, mobile phoning and landline calling has fallen by 8 to 10 %. 

I am not a great fan of Twitter, but one thing that strikes me is how brands of all hues have leveraged Twitter in encouraging people to use the platform to reach out to them, to leave comments and ask questions. Twitter has become a formal customer service channel for JetAirways and so much so that they have branded it #JetInstant. Flyers can buy tickets, make price discovery for specific sectors and also get a boarding pass issued.

The best part of digital customer care is when the company responds quickly – then everyone can see an issue being resolved in real time. Sure, the company may need to have some private discussion with the customer – which can be done through Twitter’s Direct Message feature – but once the problem is resolved, the company can come back and publically thank the customer for the opportunity to serve him or her.The conversation can become distributed. Not only can an existing audience of followers witness real-time interaction, but the company can also retweet certain comments, especially accolades, to a larger audience.If it comes down to money, Twitter is a revenue winner. The average cost of a Twitter response is roughly Rs 10, versus the average cost of interacting with a customer through the traditional call center, which is Rs 75 or so.

All said and done @digitalcare is here to take care of customers. 

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