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Ecommerce, Technology, Customer Experience • 14 min read

Using a digital assistant to streamline your after sales service

Jan Horlings | 19-03-2021

What percentage of your Customer Service calls are somewhat repetitive and have standard solutions? What part would you be able to automate if you understood the customer’s issues well enough? How much time from your Customer Service department could be freed up this way for other activities?

Let’s have a look at some numbers to demonstrate the urgency:

Research shows that 67% of customers prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative.

“While human agent-assisted methods do well at answering customer questions thoroughly, response time can be a huge downfall. Further, self-service channels are praised for being easy, convenient, and efficient in providing the information customers need (…). With 8 in 10 customers saying they would leave a company due to a poor service experience, providing quality interactions is crucial to maintaining customer loyalty.
Online chat/video and website interactions lead to the highest likelihood of recommending a company or continuing to do business with that company.”

Combine that quote with this insight: 96% of unhappy customers don’t complain. However, 91% of those will simply leave and never come back (1st Financial Training services)

This can only lead to one conclusion: You should make your customer support process as easy and seamless as possible

If you fail to make the experience easy and seamless, customers that encounter an issue will simply leave and never be seen again. Because many customers prefer an online, digital interaction, relying only on your Call Center helpdesk as the mainor only gate for Customer Support is not adequate in many cases. If a problem is not urgent enough, most people just won’t be bothered. Even if your response time is super quick, most people will not give it a try because they expect long waiting times. A better way would be to give people options:

  • Use a chatbot for a quick and dedicated Q & A,
  • Use a Visual Sales assistant to guide the customer through more general issues,
  • Forward the customer to a real Customer Service rep. when their issue is uncommon or complex.

The added benefit of this last option is that Customer Sales representatives will receive detailed information before they get in touch with customers, making them well prepared. Also, the threshold for the customer to reach out is lower since the information is already entered and only needs some added credentials and a ‘submit’ action.

In a simple process flow, it would look like this:

There are three possible outcomes in this flow:

1) The customer chooses a chatbot

This is the best option if the customer is far in his customer journey, e.g., on a Product Detail Page or in the cart, and needs a straightforward answer to a specific problem. E.g., will this spare part fit my original product?

Customer benefits:

  • Get in-context help
  • Get a quick reply to a concrete question, without social rituals or formal questions on customer numbers, etc.

2) The customer is best helped by an assistant

Many cases are not fit for very precise questions and answers. It would be very hard to quickly give a solution for the problem “my product does not work’. But this is still a valid problem for your customer. In this case, you can better guide the customer through some Q&A supported by visuals that make the experience pleasurable and educative.

Customer benefits:

  • Clear, visual guidance
  • Always available (24/7) and no waiting times
  • Immediate answers/solutions
  • No unnecessary social rituals, no stress to dig up formalities such as customer numbers, etc., while in a call.

3) The customer is best helped by a CS employee.

Some customers will prefer personal contact over a digital interaction and reach out to a CSE immediately. In other cases, they will start with the Visual Assistant but discover that the issue is too specific or too complex to be solved by a standardized solution.

In this situation, both the customer and the CSE can still benefit from the data entered in the previous interaction. This saves the customer the trouble to inform the CSE and enables him to enter the required data at leisure, especially where formal data is not always within reach. (e.g., product number, customer number, etc.).

Customer benefits:

  • Enter all needed info at pace, guided by clear visuals
  • CSE is well prepared when the conversation starts
  • No surprise questions for information not at hand.

In scenario 1 and 2, there are also business benefits:

1) Enabling automated Customer Support gives very structured output that can be used to analyze customer behavior and better understand what is causing their problems.
2) By automating the most common service issues, you free up time from your employees to support customers with more challenging problems. This enables them to:
  • Give more attention to your customers,
  • Go the extra mile to solve their issues
  • Ultimately makes their work more rewarding

Implementing these scenarios

The best approach would be step-by-step. The first step would be to talk to the customer service employees and analyze available data. What are the most common cases? Which ones are typically easy to solve? What is the most effective Q&A flow to reach a valid conclusion and offer a solution?

First step:

Start with a visual guided assistant to solve the most common issues, and analyze the effects:

  • Do customers use the interaction?
    (Consider adding a feedback button so you can measure how the customer experienced the interaction!)
  • Does the visual assistant have a measurable effect on incoming calls tot the Call Center?
    If this number drops, it may mean that Customer Service is relieved. If it stays the same, it may mean that there is a new group of customers that reaches out for support that didn’t do so before. Both options are positive, but the outcome will help to make future projections if more choices are made available to the customer.
  • Continue by adding more cases and flows but ensure that this does not negatively impact Customer Experience. Keep it simple.

Second step

A good next step could be to experiment with a chatbot on specific pages. Also, start with a proper analysis:

  • In what locations do people encounter issues?
  • What is needed to answer their questions?
  • Is this viable with a chatbot?
  • If you can’t provide the right answer, can you direct the customer to a page or other content that will help them?

One such option could, in fact, be the virtual assistant. Consider if you have to direct the customer to the starting page of the virtual assistant, or if you can already skip a few steps based on the information received!

Third step

So, now you have a virtual assistant, a chatbot, and a connection between the bot and the visual assistant. Most likely, the integration of the virtual assistant with a Customer Service agent will require some process design and system integration.

  • What system is your Customer Support department using? The goal is to let the assistant trigger a process that will create a ticket in the Customer Support desk with all relevant information.
  • Make sure that for each use case, you have asked all information that is relevant for the case at hand. It would be a pity if the CSE can’t help adequately because some crucial information is missing
  • Make sure that your Customer Service department facilitates outgoing calls. Define the best ways to reach out to the customer and consider giving the customer some options in this.
  • And, of course: measure and improve.

Just get started

All this may look a bit overwhelming. Remember that even just the first step can already offer a lot of benefits.

Create the first virtual assistant based on some common cases. Define KPIs and goals with your stakeholders set clear expectations, and make sure you can measure what you need to measure. Just give it a try.

Follow up on the results and find out what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to make changes, which should be easy with the proper tooling. When you are using our partner solution ‘Zoovu,’ you can make almost any changes in your virtual assistant or chatbot without technical support.

When this is successful, the rest is a question of expanding. Add questions and solutions. Make sure the assistant can easily be found at the right moment. Consider rolling out to other channels: offline stores, app, or even third-party sites from your distribution partners!

Final Note:

After-sales support does not need to be restricted to problems. You can just as easily use the virtual assistant to educate happy customers on how they can get even more out of your product. Suggesting some addons to their package might give some extra turnover, but just outlining benefits, guiding them to best practices, ensuring that they are happy with their product after the sale is already a great result! 

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Jan Horlings

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