Innovation in Artificial Intelligence (AI) is advancing rapidly – faster than many experts expected – bringing with it advanced levels of customer service.
“People have no idea how fast the world is changing,” said Francois van der Merwe, Teleforge CEO, speaking at the launch of Freshworks in the South African market. “We are moving into a world where everything is connected, with massive increases in computational power, and advanced technologies that leverage both the cloud and AI.”
This has made markets increasingly competitive, and in order to succeed, businesses cannot merely offer quality products and services – they need to offer exceptional customer service as well.
The problem with customer service today
Frustrating customer service is still far too common, and this affects the competitiveness of many businesses.
“Poor customer service arises from the fact that departments are typically siloed, and that makes good support a real challenge,” said Arihant Jain, Freshworks Director for Middle East and Africa. “Customers often feel as though they are trapped inside a ticket, stuck on an assembly line where they need to keep providing the same details, like their order number, over and over again to different operators.”
A study by the Customer Contact Council revealed that customer loyalty is not driven by the products you stock or services you offer, but rather by the amount of effort it takes to do business with your company. Customer loyalty, then, depends on the effectiveness of your customer service.
“The customer support model is broken, however,” said Jain. “We need to get people off the assembly line and start offering customer service that is not good, but exceptional.”
The Pit Stop Model
While good customer support is characterised by fast and accurate service, exceptional customer support takes this a step further. Jain argued that contact centres need a “Pit Stop Model” – when monitoring and reacting to customer queries, centre agents and businesses must demonstrate the same level of collaboration, accuracy, and urgency that enables Formula 1 pit crews to change a complete set of tyres for a race car in under five seconds.
“Different departments need to work together to turn a good experience into an exceptional experience,” said Jain. “The Pit Stop Model enables companies to build a customer-centric culture by focusing on relationships and using people to build those relationships – putting people over processes.”
With the Pit Stop Model, Jain noted that companies need to:
- Be less hands-off: People want to deal with people when their requests are urgent or they’re upset. Chatbots are great for general enquiries, but frustrated customers don’t want to talk to a machine.
- Prioritise transparency: When something goes wrong, companies often offer vague explanations about technical issues, which only further frustrates clients. Rather provide a specific, transparent explanation of the problem, along with an estimation on the projected time to resolution.
- Offer personalisation: Customers expect call centre agents to know who they are and to be addressed by name. Businesses must be aware of the customer’s history, as well as any comments they might have made on social media platforms. Personalisation is a key differentiator between good and great customer service.
- Provide proactive support: Responding to customer concerns before queries arise impresses customers and also reduces the load on call centres. This can be as simple as sending an SMS or email to let a customer know that their order has been delayed and will arrive two days later.
At the heart of each point Jain lists is the importance of establishing a personal connection with the client. Pit crews know every inch of the car inside and out, and contact centre agents must similarly know their customers and be properly trained to deal with any situation.
“Consider your most important conversations and how you have those discussions,” added van der Merwe. “When you need to close a deal, request funding, or even ask someone to marry you, you do it in person – not over Facebook. The best way to communicate with people is personally, and it’s important to leverage technology to give people that personal touch.”
How Freshworks enables excellent customer service
Freshworks products make it “refreshingly easy” for teams to collaborate with each other, and also help businesses provide their customers with the best experience possible.
Freshdesk, for example, is a context-sensitive, multichannel customer support solution that allows enterprises to anticipate, automate, and accelerate customer interactions.
With Freshdesk, teams can work together to resolve customer issues faster, and customer support agent efficiency is improved through game mechanics and smart automation.
In addition to Freshdesk, Freshworks’ suite of products include:
- Freshservice – An ITSM tool enabling organisations of all sizes to provide exceptional IT service delivery and support.
- Freshsales – Cloud-based CRM for high-velocity sales teams, seamlessly offering everything a salesperson needs in a single platform.
- Freshcaller – Cloud-based call centre software that lets users set up conference and voice calls.
- Freshteam – An applicant tracking system that helps recruiters source, interview, and hire great talent.
Freshworks has integrated AI technology into its solutions, with Freshsales offering AI-based lead scoring to identify high-potential leads via lead property, website, in-app, and email behaviour.
“This is an exciting time to own a business, especially a technology business,” said van der Merwe. “But to make the most of the rapid advances in technology and to ensure that you offer exceptional service, it is important to partner with progressive companies, like Teleforge and Freshworks.”
For more information, visit the Teleforge website.
This article was published in partnership with Teleforge.