Meet your new best friend – the service bot

Originally published on SME Tech Guru on 14 June 2022

By Hanleigh

In today’s connected business environment, it’s not just the customer who is king, it’s the customer experience. As a PWC report notes, “Customer experience is everything. Give customers a great experience and they’ll buy more, be more loyal, and share their experience with their friends.”

This means businesses need to ensure they are delivering great customer experiences, consistently, in each channel the customer chooses to use – physical, phone, WhatsApp and so on.

As businesses continue to digitally transform their operations, this also means using bots to deliver great customer experiences. Previous iterations of chatbots have failed at this, being better suited to providing information or performing basic transactions. Now, service bots have emerged that can help businesses deliver excellent customer service and free up their human teams to do higher value work. Here’s a quick guide to what service bots are, and how they work.

What are service bots?

Service bots are the next generation of bots that can provide a full suite of services including seamlessly handling complex queries, issues and complaints. For example, instead of just being able to answer a question such as ‘what loan products do you offer?’, or process a request like ‘top up my data bundle with another 30GB’, a service bot will be able to handle sales and support queries like ‘what is the best loan for me?’ or ‘why is my bill so high?’

How do they work?

Service bots act like customer service experts rather than assistants. They are able to help you make the right decisions, based on your specific situation, need, and/or problem. They also do this in line with relevant business rules. This means they are thinkers, not just doers. They know what questions to ask, and what advice to give based on each situation and the specific set of business and regulatory rules that need to be considered. Plus, they can use data that is available within back-office systems to shape every engagement, and to speed up every journey.

Where should I start? 

Start your service bots off doing simple customer service triage. In other words, whenever a customer has a service query, use the service bot to gather the outstanding information required to correctly classify it, and analyse the underlying need or root cause. Once done, they can then hand the query, with this information, to the appropriate agent to resolve.

Over time, your service bot will build up deep insights into the specific nature of your customers’ queries, and the volumes associated. You can then use this data to target the high volume/high complexity queries for the service bot to start resolving unassisted. Over time, the service bot can learn to handle more and more high impact queries, and pass on fewer and fewer to live agents. The queries that ultimately do get passed on are those where a human agent can add meaningful value. These are typically queries that cannot be classified, or those requiring special human empathy and care.

As your service bot learns and gets better at resolving more and more queries unassisted, you can assign it to work across more digital channels – such as your website, mobile app, WhatsApp and email. And before you know it, your customers will be resolving most of their queries directly with your service bot, while your human agents will be engaging in the conversations that really matter.

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