Customer Service is Smarter Than Ever

Customer service has a historically bad reputation. Sitcoms like Friends and The Office have joked at the banality of call centers and the rigidity of the dreaded “customer service script.” In these scenarios, nobody — not the caller or the customer service agent — is expected to have a positive experience. Those shows, however, are stuck in a past in which efficiently and effectively answering customers’ questions was a punchline. Today, that bad reputation is being repaired by a strengthened focus on self service, better trained employees, and investments in problem-solving and cost-cutting AI systems like those offered by Attivio.

Forrester Research indicates that 66% of adults feel that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with a good customer experience. It’s a waste of everyone’s time if someone has to call or email to reset a password, to learn how to change their account settings, or any other frequently asked question. Worse, it puts the onus of resolving a support ticket on both the customer and the customer service rep, creating a negative experience all around.

Moreover, recent estimates put the costs of a human agent handling a call at $50/call, while supporting a human customer via an AI system is pennies. As such, customer service organizations today are dedicated to self service initiatives like call deflection — that is, providing the tools for customers to answer their own questions via search, FAQs, or intelligent bots that can anticipate and resolve customer problems.

This dedication to self service has revolutionized the way businesses address customer inquiries. In finance, banks are actually hiring more, not fewer human tellers. By employing smart systems via robots or self-help FAQs and automated responses, banks are addressing the simple but numerous questions before they reach a human, in turn, allowing employees to focus on answering the more complex, nuanced questions. With the basic questions being answered in an automated fashion, service reps aren’t burning out under the strain of answering the same question all day. By just being available to answer those difficult questions, customer service reps are better able to value the customer’s time while still optimizing their own.

While self-service initiatives deflect the smaller questions, reps are also able to provide better, faster resolutions to more significant customer inquiries thanks to support systems like Attivio. Customer service organizations using Attivio are able to leverage the powers of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to find quicker, more precise answers. By collecting and sifting through billions of fields of previous inquiries, resolutions, knowledge base articles, file shares, chats, and emails Attivio optimizes the way reps close tickets, allowing them to seamlessly power through backlogs and free up time to develop new skills, pursue new projects, and remain happier.

More engaged customer service reps make possible success stories like Steven Weinstein, the Zappos employee who set a company record for longest service call when he stayed on the line with a needy customer for 10 hours and 43 minutes. Both Weinstein and the customer came away satisfied with their (admittedly extensive) conversation and Zappos retained a happy customer.

As companies offer better self service practices for their customers, customer service reps themselves have the potential to be more empowered. While the world at large may not have caught on quite yet to the revolution brewing in the customer service industry, organizations employing advanced, smart systems are seeing higher satisfaction rates than ever. Customer service reps are solving more difficult problems in record time and the entire service cycle is moving more efficiently than ever.

Friends, on the other hand, still uses flip phones.

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