I Just Want Assistance - NOW
Consumer expectations are higher than ever before. A Talkdesk research report showed that 58% of consumers reported their customer service expectations to be higher today than in the previous year. Primarily driven by the pandemic, brands everywhere have modified their customer service strategies to better interact with customers in the new digital landscape.
As the pandemic unfolded, virtual banking adoption dramatically increased. Banks and credit unions responded quickly with the digital offerings their account holders demanded during the lockdown. While digital banking platforms were available, many financial institutions did not have the ability to service or sell to a remote consumer due to a lack of digital customer service tools. This scenario overwhelmed many contact centers, resulting in caller frustration or call abandonment.
Further, social media platforms were flooded with service and sales requests. Many financial institutions were caught off guard as they had viewed their social media channels only as an awareness opportunity. Also, many industries moved to video-based services, telehealth for example, but many financial institutions were unprepared to meet this new channel demand.
In countless surveys, consumers have indicated that their digital behaviors will continue after the pandemic recedes. That means financial institutions will need to adapt their service and sales models to meet the digital consumers’ needs.
The Speed Expectation
Speed is everything. How often have you visited a merchant's Q&A section on Amazon, and observed questions from potential buyers with no response from the seller? How about those who host social media pages but take twenty-four hours or more to respond to customer service inquiries? Now imagine if a customer walked into a brick-and-mortar location and asked for help and was told to return in twenty-four hours. That merchant wouldn't be in business for very long. The need for immediate attention and resolution transcends all channels. If your institution is not available to quickly respond to inquiries through the digital channels, you will lose business to someone who is.
Conversely, companies who are readily available and provide prompt support in the digital channels have higher sales and conversion rates. A HubSpot report noted that 82% of consumers rated an immediate response as "important or very important" when they have marketing or sales questions. In comparison, 90% rated an immediate response as "important or very important" when they have a customer service support issue. Interestingly, the HubSpot report measured "immediate" as ten minutes or less for customer service response and resolution. What is the wait queue for your contact center during periods of heavy volume? Ten minutes or less?
AI Chatbots to the Rescue
Today, AI chatbots are leading the customer service revolution. This is important because 40% of consumers prefer interacting with a chatbot than a virtual agent. With their ability to correctly predict customer needs, AI-powered chatbots have come a long way in understanding and processing information. They effectively process simple questions and direct consumers to relevant information on the website.
By handling information-based questions, the AI chatbot reduces the volume of basic queries through the contact center. Live agents can then spend more time addressing complex issues with the full attention that more serious cases require. Consider that a handoff from an AI chatbot to an agent is pre-qualified since the agent has visibility to the service or sales content of the customer discussion thus far. AI chatbots provide a cost-effective way to provide immediate assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Again, the speedy resolution of customer queries leads to greater satisfaction and higher sales conversions.
Maximizing All Channels
As we mentioned earlier, the consumer demand for immediate attention transcends all channels. Today, financial institutions are tasked with increasing sales and providing excellent service through all available channels. And in today's digital world, service and sales via websites, mobile, social media, etc., are requirements for attracting and retaining customers.
On the surface, expanded channels mean increased costs, but as new technologies are deployed, those costs should be offset by the increased productivity of sales and service employees. As the saying goes, sales opportunities are created by being at the right place at the right time. In the digital world, that requires having the ability to immediately identify and seize the opportunity - at all times. AI chatbots are an always-available presence to meet the digital consumers’ immediate needs for both customer service support and for purchasing new products and services.