How AI Can Reinforce Support Teams During Emergencies

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In the wake of paradigm-shifting events, businesses are often forced to reexamine certain strategies. This is particularly true when it comes to customer support. For consumers, resolving product or service issues in the midst of an already stressful situation can prove to be extremely frustrating.

For support teams, large-scale emergencies can result in an overwhelming barrage of inbound requests. 

More than just a headache, sudden spikes in support needs can prove costly for organizations caught unprepared. Extended wait times, overwhelmed staff, or misinformation can be the straw to break the camel’s back for clients reaching out for help.

To make matters worse, crises are proven to negatively impact the world economy. As spending slows, even the most robust businesses may struggle to maintain a customer base. 

As we’ve experienced with the COVID-19 pandemic, global emergencies can rapidly increase support demands, leaving unprepared companies vulnerable. For these reasons, we wanted to share some insight as to how forward-thinking orgs are successfully using artificial intelligence (AI)-powered helpdesk tools to fend off customer support disasters. 

The SaaS solutions discussed here are easily deployed and completely scalable. With a few key systems in place, your support team should never feel overwhelmed again.

What an overwhelmed support team looks like:

Before we begin, it’s probably prudent to look at a couple of examples of what can happen when a support team is overrun with inbound traffic. Though the organizations discussed below are highly respected, the sudden influx of customer tickets combined with a reduced workforce (due to COVID-19) made for headline-grabbing support issues.

Though each large-scale crisis impacts businesses differently, the coronavirus outbreak proved to be more than some orgs were prepared for from a support perspective. Let’s take a look at some examples of situations where AI systems could have helped.

1. British call centers.

In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, Britain’s call centers have struggled to tend to the influx of customer calls. From airlines to cable companies, it seems that every B2C business has chosen to direct users online due to the lack of customer support staff available to answer the phone. And we’re not talking about a small number of professionals.

In Britain, a whopping 1.3 million people work in the call center sector, of which only 10-20% are expected to work from home.

One notable example is British cable and internet giant Virgin Media, which asked its 5.5 million subscribers to refrain from calling—as its short-staffed support center couldn’t handle the volume of inbound tickets.

2. WestJet Airlines.

The customer support challenges faced by Canada-based WestJet Airlines in the wake of the recent pandemic should be an eye-opener for businesses of every industry. A Simple Flying article reported that customers calling in for support experienced wait times of 10 hours or more as employees scrambled to cope with the influx. 

The article also highlights that winter storm systems are also fueling the customer support fire. As flights were canceled or rescheduled due to weather conditions, inbound requests for service continued to mount—creating more backlogged tickets.

Empowered for whatever lies ahead.

Especially in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, don’t be surprised if the intelligent systems listed below become standard for support teams around the globe. By augmenting human effort, automating tier-0 support, and preventing unnecessary tickets from being created in the first place, Capacity’s helpdesk systems are equipping support staff for the future. 

If your team has felt overwhelmed by a recent crisis, we’d recommend you take a closer look at these tools:

1. Guided conversations.

Powered by AI, guided conversation tools are on the front line of customer support. Through an embedded chat window, clients receive a series of clarifying follow-ups to their questions—guiding them down a path to the most helpful information. Best of all, new exchanges are easy for teams to build—according to new or changing customer needs. 

This is especially important during spikes in support needs. As inbound traffic climbs, your support team won’t be bogged down by FAQs that could be easily satisfied with existing knowledge. 

For additional ticket deflection, Capacity’s natural language processing (NLP) allows users to get helpful answers—even when they aren’t sure how to word the question. By understanding the intent and context of each inquiry, NLP accommodates your customers’ needs before a phone call or email is needed. 

2. Human in the loop (HITL).

Just as the name implies, human in the loop (HITL) technology seamlessly transitions the conversation to a dedicated teammate when a customer’s inquiry can’t be satisfied by your existing knowledge base—and not a moment before. 

With HITL, tier-0 support is almost exclusively handled via an AI-powered conversational interface—avoiding human intervention until absolutely necessary. In the event your support team is called on, their responses are recorded via machine learning (ML)—ensuring any future inquiries are handled automatically.

Taken one step further, Capacity’s expert finder technology is a game-changer for overwhelmed support teams. When customers’ need an in-depth answer, Capacity instantly connects them with the right person by following a dynamic knowledge graph. Just like HITL, your SME’s reply is recorded via machine learning algorithms and added to your knowledge base for any future inquiries.

3. LiveChat.

The culmination of the tools discussed above is Capacity’s LiveChat functionality. Perfect for coordinating spikes in customer support demand, LiveChat is a suite of customer-centric tools that empower agents to intervene efficiently and effectively. 

Once a customer’s support request is escalated to level 1, the conversation is automatically sent to your support team’s dashboard. From there, support teams can review the chat history, customer profile, and more. Armed with insight, your team can deliver the necessary knowledge the first time with minimal need for clarification. 

Better still, LiveChat can be deployed according to your needs. Under normal operating conditions, your team can use it to perfect the customer experience (CX). In the event of a sudden ticket surge, LiveChat can serve as a hub for prioritizing inquiries.

Support on demand.

Ideally, this article will inspire leaders to take another look at the role of AI in their support strategy. Quickly deployable and easily scalable, helpdesk tools like those discussed here are the digital assistants that support teams need to succeed in times of crisis.

If you’d like to discover more about maximizing your team’s potential, click below!

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