Within the past few months, we’ve all had to rethink the way we live our lives and do business as the threat of COVID-19 (coronavirus) hit home.
Many – if not most – schools have closed. The NBA and NHL have postponed games and practices indefinitely. The running of this year’s Boston Marathon has been rescheduled – a first in its 123-year history.
Millions of people across the country have been forced to work from home to maximize social distancing, a term that will forever be etched in our collective consciousness. This is brand new territory for us all, especially for the 31.5 million workers who occupy mostly front-line, customer-facing jobs – and who are seeing major shifts in how they need to provide that service.
The world of customer experience (CX) is going to have to drastically reimagine how we engage with customers in this new reality.
Now that customers are home and business is anything BUT usual, customers are reaching out to contact centers in droves. What do closings mean for my order or reservation? What happens to my subscription or membership during a shutdown? What about my home food delivery? My college loans? Prescription medication orders and deliveries?
There are some issues that can only be answered over the phone. Disney, for instance, announced theme park and resort hotel closings, leaving tens of thousands of guests with questions for agents about how their rebooking or refund policies personally affect them.
This may not be a case where self-service can completely solve the problem, but it can certainly help by letting customers know what to expect as they start the process of reaching out to customer service and by helping keep other calls off agents’ plates as they work to resolve these more pressing and time-sensitive issues.
Of course, agents will be affected by the pandemic too, which means contact centers, even those that are 100% virtual, will likely run leaner than usual. Are you prepared to handle increased demand from customers with fewer resources?
Here are some ways self-service can help:
1. Dynamic search bar
Make it easy for customers to find what they need without getting lost in deep FAQs.
2. Conversational AI chatbots
Put a friendly personality on the front lines to answer easier customer questions.
3. Seamless transitions to agents
Make sure your self-service solution creates a close connection with agents, so customers don’t have to start over when they move from chatbot to human.
4. AI that keeps learning
This new reality will likely result in new questions from customers, so your self-service technology should always be learning and helping you to close any knowledge gaps.
Before “social distancing” came barreling into our lives, customer self-service was already on the rise – and paying off. Companies using customer self-service software enjoy 71% greater annual improvement in customer satisfaction rates, retain 76% more of their clientele, and have a 6x greater annual improvement in customer lifetime value.
In this new reality, we expect to see even greater usage of self-service, and businesses that don’t have it may inadvertently turn away customers when they can’t get to their calls, emails, or messages in a timely manner.
It’s not too late to get self-service off the ground. Digital engagement platforms like Bold360 are built for quick implementation without a lot of upfront setup. The AI can start fielding customer questions as soon as you plug it in. Tune in to their live video series, CXNext Live, where they tackle more CX issues in light of the coronavirus pandemic.