Chatbots have made many a transaction more efficient. They’re great when customers need a quick, simple answer like, “What’s my balance?” On the other hand, if you’ve ever had a frustrating “conversation” with a bot – online or on the phone – you know that bots have limitations on their own. That begs the question: How can businesses create better bots and make the handoff to live agents more seamless, and less painful, for the customer?
It’s All About The Customer Experience
Experts in bot development agree that efforts to create a satisfying experience must begin with the customer. That may seem obvious, but how often do we build systems that fit our processes?
What we should always do is start with the user. Talk to your agents to identify the questions customers ask. What are their most common issues? Then, analyze contact center interactions that customers have rated the highest. In other words, start by doing your homework.
The truth is, it’s easy to lose sight of the customer as exciting technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), conversational AI, machine learning (ML) and natural language understanding (NLU) emerge. But as promising as these technologies are, building a solution begins with a roadmap of the customer journey. Contact center managers need to set guidelines for what bots can do and when they need to pass conversations over to a human.
Issues that are time-critical or require sensitive information should be handed off immediately. For instance, when someone says, “I’ve just lost my train pass and I need to board the next train. What do I do?” they don’t want to chat with a software program. That’s why AI developers are enabling bots to notice context using words that express emotion, urgency and frustration. In building any bot-human interaction, designers must set markers like these to direct the bot on when to handoff a call.
Central to a successful experience is giving customers control over when to switch to live agents, ideally at any point in the contact process. Many businesses let customers know from the start when they’re interacting with a virtual agent and explain how the bot can assist. However, providing a quick out, like a “chat with agent” button, is a good practice. Before the handoff, though, be sure to capture and transfer any information customers have already shared. It’s maddening to have to start all over again when the live agent takes over.
Training Your Bots
Successful bots are trained by successful humans. No matter how sophisticated the software, its performance depends on what information it’s fed. (No doubt you’ve heard the expression “garbage-in, garbage out”– or GIGO.) As they stumble, bots need to be retrained. Identify where bots lose the customer, such as when the call ends, or the customer requests a live agent. Was the bot able to understand the customer? Could it answer the specific question being asked? If not, did it quickly transfer the customer to a live agent?
To start, analyze the interactions that have been successfully handled by human agents. Then use your best agents to help train your bots. Nowadays, bots can even learn from customer conversations with human agents by “listening” to conversations in real-time and learn how human agents respond to what customers say on the phone or type in the chat box.
As Mikhail Naumov, co-founder and chief strategy officer at DigitalGenius, explains in this Tech Target post, bots with AI and machine learning can learn over time when humans provide ongoing training. “The more often a human agent helps train the AI by affirming or correcting the outcome, the more AI – and its algorithms – will learn and make confident decisions on its own.”
The Next Generation
Will bots entirely replace humans? Definitely not. But even so, the near future promises much more sophisticated bots thanks to NLU and conversational AI. Imagine bots that can understand the intent behind a customer’s request, solve the immediate problem, then answer follow-up questions and learn how to improve its future performance, saving time and money while bettering the customer experience.
“We need to find a human-centric solution that’s ‘conversationally intelligent,’” explains Kathryn White, Client Innovation Services Lead at Accenture. “A chatbot that not only understands how humans speak, but also senses and interprets tone and context.”
Within the next year, White predicts, bots will be able to take relevant actions in the proper context without the need for human intervention. The challenge that remains is integration across diverse AI interfaces and ecosystems, but once this is resolved, she explains, we’ll see bots that can draw on previous interactions, in essence “remembering” context and responding to the customer based on this knowledge.
If you’re thinking about making the switch, you probably want to know the details about how VoIP outpaces your old land-line system. Consider this your guide to what you can get with your shiny new VoIP device.
1. More Flexibility
IP desk phones deliver a modern call experience, while mobile apps enable work from anywhere, and softphones give employees instant access to calls with just a headset. All of these options mean a VoIP device frees you from the tethers of your old phone. Employees can easily work from anywhere, using any device, with full access to all the communications tools they need to stay on top of their work. Seamless transition from desktop to smartphone lets them move about as needed, without missing a beat.
Flexibility is particularly important for smaller businesses that need to get maximum performance out of smaller teams.
2. More Mobility
If you want to attract and retain talented employees, you’ve got to provide them with a quality mobile communications solution. A VoIP device is designed to support mobility, which is critical to today’s on-the-go employees. Even those who spend most of their time in the office demand the freedom from their desk, but they still need to be reachable at all times. VoIP gives your team the mobile support it needs and wants.
Mobile apps for iOS and Android, as well as the ability to text co-workers from their business line with SMS, are just some of the ways a VoIP device supports mobile workers. Other possible features include Siri and Bluetooth integration, which keeps your employees safe with a hands-free experience while they’re on the road.
The ability to work easily from any location also increases employee satisfaction, increasing retention rates. And let’s not forget that happy employees perform better, which trickles down to more satisfied customers.
3. Better Collaboration
Logging extra hours at the office for a big project? Working from home so you can make it to your daughter’s band concert? No matter where you are, a VoIP device makes collaboration a snap. Join a conference call with a single click (yes, that means no annoying passcodes to remember!). Get a quick chat answer or text from a member of your team. In either case, individual and group messaging has you covered.
You can take collaboration to a whole new level with the right VoIP device–some VoIP phones actually include an application like Mitel Teamwork. Employees can communicate from any device, even starting a conversation on one and continuing it on another–seamlessly. Improve collaboration on projects using shared workspaces that track and assign tasks, and also share files. When each team member has a VoIP device in hand, deadlines meet their match.
4. More Productivity
What business doesn’t list increasing productivity among its top goals? A VoIP device helps you hit that target in more ways than one.
The days of basic call functionality on your old phone are in the past. The right VoIP system comes with game-changing features, such as audio and video conferencing, desktop sharing, individual and group chat, built-in VPN and business SMS. With so many options, communication is always on. Giving employees the option to communicate and share ideas over multiple channels gets the job done more quickly. Can your old phone do that?
Modern businesses use a range of communications tools and systems to support their operations and serve their customers. Jumping from one platform another wastes time and makes it more difficult for employees to do their jobs. The right VoIP system, with the right VoIP device, provides all of the integrations a business needs to excel.
Simple email and calendar integrations let team members schedule events quickly and stay on top of the latest company and product information. CRM integration gives employees instant access to detailed customer and client data, making interactions more personalized. Web dialer and telephony integrations allow workers to manage calls from a web browser and connect directly from emails or calendar events. They can even view a contact’s presence to see if they’re free to talk.
You can integrate your business’s contact center with your VoIP device, too. A service such as MiCloud Connect CX offers intelligent routing, real-time and historical reporting, workforce management and other features that enable the contact center team to increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.
6. Great Reliability
Stop worrying about dropped customer calls and bad connections. A VoIP phone system that’s built on a reliable and secure network removes the headaches associated with outdated phones that break unexpectedly and are expensive to repair. MiCloud Connect, for example, is built on Google Cloud, providing the ultimate in reliability and security. Instead of worrying about whether or not a call will go through or how quickly a repair will get done, you can focus on strategic plans and growing the business.
MiCloud Connect also supports HIPAA and SOC 2 compliance and is deployed out of highly secure Tier 4 data centers, the highest rated data centers, with several layers of redundancy. Talk about putting your money where your mouth is.
7. Easier Scalability
Phones connected to land lines and wires don’t scale easily. There’s just too much hardware involved. It’s exactly the opposite with a VoIP device. Adding lines is simple and fast.
A VoIP device also allows you to mix and match the functionality necessary to best support your business. As your needs change, a VoIP system grows and changes with them. Upgrade permissions in real time. Subscribe only to the features your employees require. If you’re not ready for CRM integration, then don’t pay for it. If your team is small, opt for conferencing and sharing options for a small group so you don’t pay for seats you can’t fill. As you expand, you can increase your coverage easily–no hassle and no headache.
When your old phone goes to head-to-head with a VoIP device, the results are clear: VoIP wins by a landslide. Employees have access to a wider and more robust suite of communications tools and can access them from multiple devices, even switching between devices seamlessly. On top of all that, VoIP is easy to install and use. That means you can give a farewell call to your land-line phone. Make the switch today, and your team will be up and running on with minimal training and loving the power of VoIP. It’s a no-brainer.
This article was first published by Mitel.