AI helping train customer service teams remotely

Sreelesh Pillai writes about how technology can not only improve efficiencies and customer experience, but how businesses can utilise AI to provide a comprehensive onboarding experience to a remote force.

From Twitter to Square, businesses are increasingly opting to work remotely for the foreseeable future. And given the pandemic has fundamentally altered the landscape of business operations forever, it’s no wonder why.

To match this transition, organisations around the world are leveraging technology to aid in the training and onboarding process of new hires. Research has shown that organisations with a strong training and onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82 percent and productivity by over 70 percent, as well as increase efficiencies for teams. To achieve this, businesses are integrating AI and chatbots into their training process, enabling new customer service representatives to experience comprehensive onboarding in a remote work setup, and feel welcomed.

How? Here are three ways:

1. Streamlining workflows to reduce internal dependencies

Before resolving certain issues, agents might have to ask the customer a set of mandatory questions or perform a certain number of steps. Let’s take the example of an agent getting a query from a customer wanting to return a product back to Kathmandu. As part of the returns process, they’d need to probe the customer to understand why they’d like to return the product, before taking any action. However, for an agent who has just been onboarded – and that too amid mass changes in a company’s operating pattern – they may not be fully familiar with the preempted questions, making the process challenging and time consuming.

In this instance, agents at Kathmandu have an advantage as they have a Freshworks’ bot in place. The bot, powered by AI, helps the agent troubleshoot the customer’s issue, gain a clearer understanding of the problem and perform the next best step in record time – all they have to do is spend some time interacting with the bot, which will use pre-set guides to point them in the right direction. It has been able to provide contextual assistance for their agents, allowing them to carry out workflows effortlessly, reduce internal interdependency and boost their morale.

2. Giving time back to agents, by automating complex processes

COVID-19 has brought about many changes to the way companies work. With customers unable or unwilling to physically go into stores, agents have had to contend with a significant increase in online queries. However, at the same time, they’ve also had to manage their day-to-day tasks, including checking their order management tool to update customers on their delivery status or identifying reasons why a customer’s account was suspended — both tasks that, when done manually, eat into an agent’s time and energy, especially if they’ve just joined the team.

By automating the process and making use of chatbots, mundane and repetitive tasks like sorting through incoming queries, or replying to frequently asked questions every day, can be taken away from agents. The time freed up by this implementation can now be used to focus on what they’re best at — effortlessly providing resolutions for customers, on time and without depending on anyone for assistance.

Fitness Passport, has seen the advantages of implementing Freddy, the AI-powered chatbot, to offer immediate and easy self-service at scale to their members. By giving members the option to turn to the bot for help with quick answers to simple queries, they’ve seen a 30 percent reduction in customer inquiries. In the current circumstances where time is of the essence, this technology has freed up agents’ time, allowing them to tend to more complex queries and enabling them to build a better rapport with members.

3. Training and onboarding, simplified

The sudden nature of the pandemic has meant that business operations have had to pivot quickly, particularly when it comes to customer support strategies. With the magnitude of changes that have occurred, it’s imperative that teams are briefed thoroughly or even re-trained to ensure clear communication. However, during this period, businesses also faced the challenge of onboarding new agents to supplement the high levels of customer queries.

In a normal situation, new agents would have a mentor sitting next to them, guiding them through demonstrations and explaining the changes. By moving to remote training, this easy access to information and help is lost, creating a potentially daunting situation for new agents. Additionally, while these changes may have been documented in an email, video, or an article on an internal knowledge base, the time lost with agents trawling through to find exactly what they need is huge.

Using AI and chatbots to set up this information through an agent-facing chatbot, means that agents – both old and new – are easily able to access the updates whenever they are stuck, instead of wasting time switching between tools to find an answer.

The increasingly important role of technology – and particularly AI – in business operations has never been clearer than in the past few months. With remote working looking like it’s here to stay, new hires have also had to experience a drastic change in their onboarding processes. Investing in AI and chatbots not only go a long way in helping with remote training and onboarding, but it will also continue to positively impact the overall team experience going forward. While we continue to navigate these uncharted grounds, I hope that businesses continue to look for ways to not only survive, but adapt, evolve and ultimately, thrive.

Sreelesh Pillai, General Manager of Freshworks Australia.

Photo by Luke Peters on Unsplash.