Cloud computing services, game-changing, but what is it?
We’ll get into cloud computing in a minute, lets back track a bit to understand why I’ve decided to write this post.
On one fine day in Melbourne, the team at Mayte sat down and went through their routine ideation workshop.
The process of bouncing around potential ideas for things to create, getting the creative juices flowing – a necessity when you’re out there putting jet packs on dinosaurs!
Among it’s competition, one idea rose from the crowd and caught the ‘ooohs and ahhs’ from the team. The idea was a hit. So much so that the office was soon filled with confetti and balloons, cake was shared and someone started a Mexican wave.
Unfortunately I wasn’t there but I don’t doubt that’s what happened.
Hi I’m Jonathan.
The idea that transpired a series of celebrations? That’s what I’m working on as my first project as Mayte’s newest member.
It is a project that aims to utilize the power of cloud computing services, a topic which I was previously unfamiliar with and I’m sure by now you’re itching to know what this illustrious idea is.
Well unfortunately that’s going to be the topic of a later post. Here at Mayte we don’t believe in instant gratification, we practice patience and grit!
Fine… I guess a little info wont hurt, the idea is a Smart Office. That’s all I’ll disclose for now!
What I’d like to bring to light is cloud computing services, it is a topic I once had absolutely zero knowledge of. I had heard about the Google Cloud Platform / Amazon Web Services but hadn’t yet looked into it.
I’ve now dabbled into these services and have gained a better understanding of the power of cloud computing services and how big of a role it will have in the ecosystem of future businesses.
I’m here to shed some light on the topic in hopes that you will walk away with an understanding of what it is.
Traditionally, people would run programs or applications on their own physical computer or server to carry out a set task. Cloud computing now offers an alternative.
You’re a local baker who sells cakes. You currently own ten ovens and therefore can only bake ten cakes at a time. Word gets around that you’re the best in town and you soon become bombarded with orders. You simply cannot meet the demand with ten ovens. Turns out there is a man in town who owns 100 ovens. Bakers can use his ovens for a small fee. You only pay for the ovens / time that you use.
You soon realise this is pretty efficient, you no longer have to worry about whether you have sufficient machinery or facilities to support your business. You can focus solely on what you do best, preparing the mix and decorating the cake.
Furthermore, the man offers additional services / benefits. His store comes with state of the art security to make sure your cakes aren’t stolen or messed with. He may also offer a delivery service to your clients.
This is my ‘in a nutshell’ take on what cloud computing services is and hope it’s an analogy that served you well.
Essentially you are outsourcing the facilities, services and the power you need, to a third party who specializes in just that.
Amazon Web Services who is currently the largest provider of cloud computing services, offers an array of products and services.
- Virtual Servers
- Run your own code in the cloud
- Deploy and publish serverless applications
- Scalable storage in the cloud
- Store any kind of file
- Managed NoSQL database
- Cost-effective data warehousing
+ much more!
Cloud computing services is a whole new world to me but it is something I definitely plan to grasp. In a future post, I’ll talk more about Mayte’s Smart Office idea as well as how cloud computing services is going to play a role in it!
Customer service chatbot – here to save you millions
Implementing a customer service chatbot is a bit of a touchy subject. There are the customer satisfaction questions – won’t a chatbot degrade our customer service and leave them unhappy? What happens if the chatbot fails? Won’t I be putting people out of a job? Aren’t there agencies that do after-hours support? I’m here to tell you – no problem. Just awesome.
It’s a tricky one to dance around. The way technology is evolving, chatbots are actually going to improve the system for both the customer and the business. I’m going to run through three ways a chatbot customer service system can make your customers happy and save you millions in customer support salaries, today.
The problem with humans
Note: being a human myself, this isn’t a criticism so much as an observation about how I’ve seen humans act in their workplace.
Firstly, there’s the capacity thing. Wait times are a serious drain on anybody’s life and hold music is the soundtrack to satan’s seventh ring of hell. Just ask anyone on Centre Link. Secondly, no human can work 24/7. That’s a ridiculous presumption.
So what does the landscape look like at the moment for after-hours requests? A call centre in India, an agency that has minimal business knowledge who isn’t invested in the brand, a sleepy, lone customer service rep working to the wee hours of the morning. Inconsistency between support reps. These are all problems our clients have faced with their fallback solution for when they close up shop for the night or have outsourced their support.
The ideal customer support member is essentially a brand ambassador. They love the company, they know it inside out and are there to excite the customer on the grand vision. Support staff aren’t perfect though. They have break-ups, they get sick, they forget things.
We are human, after all.
Self-serve before escalation, 24/7
The first step to improving customer satisfaction and removing human error from the situation is self-serve. Self-serve is the holy grail of customer service. If a company has created their support system so well that there’s no need for human contact then this creates business efficiencies and customers are happy that they have all the knowledge that they need.
These systems aren’t always built perfectly though. It can be hard for customers to surface the information they need. You know your knowledgebase inside-out as a business – if someone asked you a question, you’d be able to answer it relatively quickly. So shouldn’t this be a consistent experience across support channels?
A customer service chatbot can quell these problems by acting as a ‘first-line defence’. Here are a few examples:
So, what could one do?
- Verification – a chatbot could perform the verification required when talking to a human. This could be via date of birth and address or use more complex methods like sending an SMS with a code (as they will most likely be on their phone already).
- FAQ for real – It could understand customer queries and answer by digging into the company knowledge base. Think FAQ but delivered through a conversational experience. The natural way.
- Process simple tasks – menial tasks like changing addresses, checking on claims and making a payment are all straight-forward easy requests. These can be automated easily, saving the customer service rep precious minutes on the phone. More on this in the next section.
- Collect preliminary info – so that when a customer service rep does join the conversation they are fully equipped with the request at hand, the customer’s profile and any extra information they might need to process the request.
It’s important to escalate when a user is stuck or angry – but more on that shortly.
Broadcasting important announcements
Email messages from companies are largely ignored. So are inboxes on your company’s platform or portal. SMS has been one of the most engaging ways to make announcements, so why not take them to where your customers are?
Messaging apps are quickly outpacing traditional social platforms and see ridiculous open-rates of 90% and up. Click through rates of 50%. It’s ludicrous! So how can a customer service chatbot make this even better?
Conversational announcements. Picture calling every single customer to tell them about a change in government legislation that has a handful of complexities that will affect their monthly subscription cost. What a nightmare! Not only is there volume, but there’s also emotion.
Alternatively, use a customer service chatbot to broadcast important announcements and make them interactive? Allow your customers to find out more simply by having a conversation. This has the added benefit of customer engagement not just a P.S.A. Not to mention your open rates will sky-rocket!
Automating call centres
Automated support systems have been the dread of customers for years. But emerging technology is evolving at a rapid pace and allowing richer, more complex interactions between human and machine.
I’ve yelled at the Telstra automated system more times than I can count. I just repeatedly yell “PUT ME THROUGH TO A REAL HUMAN!!!” and eventually it hits the fallback and puts me through. That’s because it’s not actually helpful though. It’s never made my life easier and it’s never truly understood me.
With developments in Natural Language Processing (NLP) it’s possible to understand user intent through spoken voice and identify important entities. Let me illustrate below;
This is a healthcare provider chatbot we’re working on at the moment. You can tell it what your problem is and it will recommend a specialist based on the symptoms you’ve provided. It does this by recognising symptoms, ailments, body parts and severity in order to quickly tell you whether you should book an appointment at the chiro or should go to the hospital.
This software is so good that you can speak to it like a teeny bopper who’s just discovered MSN for the first time and it still understands. Under the hood, it uses machine learning to recognise patterns, word vectors and translate that into meaningful actions.
So why is NLP important? Traditional automated systems just look out for keywords. When you tell your Internet Provider “I need to update my direct debit” it just looks out for the word “direct debit” and routes you to the right person. With NLP, you can understand complex requests and route them to the next request automatically. You can tie this into your business’s back-end and process these requests without any human intervention. This is going to change the game.
Gotcha: human escalation – not totally useless
Sometimes your customer service chatbot can’t understand the request coming through. It is, after all, a program. It’s important that you always keep staff on to handle escalations – that is when the chatbot has failed to satisfy the customer’s needs and needs a human to handle a potentially complex request.
Today’s technology also allows you to analyse sentiment in conversation. Basically, whether someone is happy or sad, positive or negative. A negative sentiment is also a good time to escalate the request to a human being.
Humans aren’t entirely useless!
How to roll out a customer service chatbot?
The trick with integrating a customer service chatbot is to do it gradually. Do not replace your entire CX team with an automated system overnight. That would be a disaster.
We’d recommend starting with after-hours support of 50% of your customers. This way you can see how it performs against traditional support channels where there is the expectation that customer service will not be at its best.
Once that’s successful, roll it out to 100% of after-hours support and make sure that the system is running smoothly and as expected. You may find you need to tweak and improve your system based on the way your customers talk and respond.
Next, create your ‘front-line defence’. Roll the chatbot out to sit in front of the customer support team and see whether it can handle most requests. Over time, you’ll notice the wait times dropping, happier customers with the efficient handling of requests and your customer support team will shrink with business growth instead of ballooning in size.
Wondering how a customer service chatbot can complement your existing CX team? Get in touch with us and we’ll identify what can be automated easily and efficiently, and start a chatbot test pilot today. Or hit me up on LinkedIn!