Consumer acceptance of bot-driven support is rising with as many as 42% interested in using an augmented-reality service bot to help them with setup and repairs, according to CGS.
Because customers are becoming increasingly adept at working with AI technology, and technology is improving, by the time an inquiry reaches live agent support tasks are more complex.
What does this mean for the future of support agents?
Support agents still need to adapt quickly, creatively and skillfully, and now - most importantly - with empathy. By emphasizing the “human element” in support interactions, companies are more likely to leave customers with a positive experience which is known to boost retention. Here are five considerations for the evolution of support agents.
Chatbots can quickly answer simple questions. However, customers don’t always ask simple questions. A skilled agent is trained to walk through issues using unique language that’s likely unfamiliar to a bot. Humans can resolve more complicated queries by handling questions that aren’t pre-scripted. Agents create a human bond with customers helping to lessen the stress of having an issue in the first place. By understanding context and expressing empathy, agents are more able to relate to nuances that lead to solutions.
Customers often fail to provide sufficient information to automated tools. Relying on chat-based shortcuts commonly used in social interactions customers often provide one-word answers. This leaves the bot searching a database without uncovering the root cause and adding extra back and forth to the interaction. In conversations with a trained agent, customers are more likely to provide expansive information more likely to help quickly solve a problem. Agents trained to listen for tone and prompt for additional background know to ask more detailed and open-ended questions.
It might seem easiest to let humans answer the phones and let the bots handle everything else. But by creating access to live support everywhere, customers know they can reach top agents wherever they prefer - social, app, chat, phone and email. Highly skilled agents are able to establish relationships with customers regardless of touchpoint ensuring that positive experiences lead to long-term buyers.
In our increasingly global economy, it’s becoming more important to serve customers in multiple languages and listen as they describe how their problem is individualized. Because chatbots wait for keywords, they may struggle to create truly personalized service. Agents, meanwhile, can speak multiple languages and listen beyond keywords to personalize an interaction. A chatbot might not care about - or listen for - children or pets in the background. However, customer agents can take the time to connect, asking about family and the household which also may help speed to resolution.
Chatbots are a great answer to many support questions. Customers are accustomed to them so often expect to have problems solved before speaking to a human. This makes the role of the support agent even more important, as they are asked to handle increasingly complicated issues. It's for this reason the perfect model is a hybrid one where AI and AR technology triages concerns and also boosts customer expectations. Using pinpoint technology combined with trained agents ensures positive experiences are the standard not an outlier.
Chatbots and other AI technologies free support agents to handle complex questions. Although counter-intuitive, over the long run skilled agents improve response times accelerating time to resolution across all interaction types - not just easy ones. Each contact also is more meaningful and of higher quality which has the added benefit of boosting customer retention. The digitization of customer interactions is here to stay. And so is the human element in customer support.
Related blog: The 5's Do's and Don'ts of Customer Support