Taking Customer Service to a New Level
One problem facing organizations today is that customers
are using the enabling technology of multimedia customer contact faster than the
companies themselves are putting resources behind them. Furthermore, customer
expectations in regard to the response time required for contact methods such as
e-mail, web and fax have changed. In today's market, customers expect ALL
contact methods to have the same level of urgency as a live phone call. And if
this expectation is not met, you have an unhappy customer -- just a click away
from the competition. Increasingly, customer loyalty will have to be bought with
The two areas that seem to need the most improvement are
contacts initiated via e-mail and the web. In 1998, the volume of e-mail in the
U.S. surpassed the volume of hand-delivered mail and is projected to explode.
However, most organizations are ill prepared to handle the onslaught. Studies
show that it usually takes days or weeks for customers to get answers to very
simple questions. And Gartner Group reports that 90 percent of enterprises are
not responding to e-mails on a timely basis or to their customers' satisfaction.
Regarding web contacts, a recent Jupiter Communications survey showed that only
41 percent of online buyers were happy with the customer service they received.
This is evidenced by the fact that sixty-six percent of e-customers are leaving
shopping carts behind on web sites because they cannot get answers to simple
questions while online. Organizations never anticipated the resources required
to field such a volume of online inquiries.
One immediate solution to this growing problem is to
implement an automated response system, which will ensure that e-mail or web
contacts are being received by a centralized system, acknowledged immediately,
potentially answered automatically, and routed to the most appropriate person if
live intervention is required.
An automated response system is a comprehensive knowledge
management system that helps organizations process online information requests.
One of their major capabilities is to allow organizations to make use of
knowledge in the form of "Frequently Asked Question" (FAQ) lists to
automatically service a variety of inquiries. The solution also lets employees
add "knowledge" by simply submitting common questions and their
answers. As a result, companies increase customer satisfaction, enhance agent
productivity, and lower costs.
Just as Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology is used
in many organizations to handle phone-based automated service, early automated
response systems were designed to handle inquiries that are fairly standard and
repetitive in nature. Modern automated response systems take this concept a
major step forward by using advanced artificial intelligence and linguistic
techniques to examine customer inquiries, look for matches in an FAQ database,
and automatically respond if an appropriate match is found. These solutions
automatically cross-reference similar words so that the best matching response
can be sent to the inquirer. This frees up employees to focus on the more
complex issues that require personalized responses.
With such a system, the amount of e-mails and web inquiries
requiring a live response can be dramatically reduced, customers can service
themselves a majority of the time, and organizations can track the questions
asked in order to hone in on issues and opportunities that improve business and
service. Quality automated response systems provide both e-mail and web
self-service components and also offer escalation to live e-mail response and
web chat service.
In business, quality of service is as critical as speed -
especially on the Internet. With poor service driving customers away, timely
responses to customers have become the hallmark of business success. Automated
response systems provide the type of web self-service and e-mail options
customers and organizational users demand, while cutting the number of inquiries
requiring live responses - often by 50 to 60 percent or more. The result?
Customers keep coming back to your organization because they know they'll get
the answers they need - when they need them.
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