Op Ed: How virtual agents are forming an integrated part of the customer service team

Originally published on IT-Online on 18 July 2022

By Ryan Falkenberg, Co-CEO of CLEVVA Pty. Ltd.

Customer service in call centres, particularly in the banking sector, has been variable, at best, for a number of reasons. Technologically, many businesses are still siloed. This means agents don’t always have access to everything they need. If they do, it’s in several different systems with varied logins and access rights, which the agent struggles to find while trying to engage the customer and provide fast, efficient service. 

Chatbots were introduced in an attempt to reduce the pressure on agents by resolving more queries digitally. Unfortunately these info bots could only really offer basic information. They struggled to resolve contextual queries or action specific requests. 

This led to the evolution of transaction bots, which can handle basic instructions as long as the parameters are clear, eg, “transfer R50 from my current account to my savings account”. While this sounds great, most banking apps allow customers to perform these actions already. A transaction bot simply gives you an assistant that can process these actions for you.   

This is fantastic for simple instructions. It’s less great for complicated transactions where you really want to make sure the digital assistant gets it right. When you are not totally sure what decision to make or instruction to give. Where you would value an expert advisor more than an eager assistant. Someone who can analyse your situation, need or problem and really shape a recommended solution based on your specific context.

This level of in-context advice has been difficult for banks to provide, especially given the regulatory risk they run if their chatbot goes rogue and says or does the wrong thing. As a result, most banks have relied on trained staff to provide this to customers. Their chatbot does the basics, and then hands off to a live agent as soon as things get complicated. 

That is until the emergence of service bots. Service bots can have hyper-relevant, hyper-personalised conversations with customers, and resolve queries, complaints and issues in much the same way human agents can. This includes taking whatever action is necessary once the exchange is concluded. They are programmed to act within the realms of compliance and regulatory requirements, and leave an audit trail for compliance and reporting. 

Being able to use service bots to handle more and more queries digitally means that banks can drive down their cost to serve. It also means that agents can focus on having richer, more impactful engagements that result in better customer relationships. 

Service bots can engage with customers via WhatsApp, web, email or the bank’s mobile app. They open up in context, and help resolve the customer’s query immediately. As a result, few calls get channeled to contact centres, and customers are freed up to do more themselves. 

Service bots herald a new era in banking service. They advise and assist customers, as required. And they do this increasingly in a compliant and hyper-personalised way.

Isn’t it time to ask your bank why they are not offering you a service expert at your fingertips?

View original article here.