Facilitating customer self-service using automated contact channels, such as IVR and chatbots is a recognised method of reducing strain on contact centres during spikes in demand.
For organizations that experience high levels of churn, as seen in the mobile telecoms, insurance and energy sectors, a seamless customer journey can make the difference between keeping them onboard for another year, or losing customers to your nearest competitor.
To address this, many organizations have focused on using chatbots to answer common queries, so that customer service employees have time to handle more complex calls. However, when it comes to reducing churn, applying a more granular approach can yield major benefits. Deploying a range of chatbots, each suited to a specific task, can greatly enhance the customer experience and deliver substantial benefits to the business.
A win-back bot, used in combination with other chatbots such as a quote bot, and loyalty bot, can help to retain customers who are nearing the end of their contract and are at risk of switching to a competitor and can even help to entice back customers who’ve already left.
Here are 5 ways specialist service bots can play a winning role in your organization’s customer retention strategy:
1. Enhance customer reach – While outbound telesales, email and white mail remain the channels of choice for proactively engaging customers, chatbot platforms open up the opportunity for organizations to craft automated conversations, with personalised offers to entice customers to stay, or to return after switching.
These specialist renewal or win-back bots can be deployed over SMS, email, in-app or on the web, to proactively engage customers using a low-cost channel that has a 98% open rate.
2. Perfectly-timed customer engagement – The window between customers thinking about switching and actually doing so has become shorter. Relying solely on traditional channels risks losing customers to competitors. Implementing a contract renewal bot which sends personalised messages to customers as their insurance policy is coming to an end, or when tariffs are due to change, allows you to get your value proposition in front of your customers ahead of the competition.
As an example, AA Ireland has customers that have several policies renewing at different times. Using SMS, linked to its quote bot provides contact centre advisers with the additional capacity and tools to contact customers at renewal time and answer their queries: building brand loyalty and increasing lifetime value.
3. Improved customer convenience (their time, their way) – Using conversational AI allows organizations to help customers to help themselves, when it suits them. Renewal bots provide customers with an instant and seamless experience, allowing them to complete the customer journey in a matter of minutes, uploading documents and verifying their ID, from the comfort of their mobile device. In addition, renewal bots allow customers to select the same messaging channels that they use to communicate with their friends, families and colleagues. This reduces the friction of forcing customers to switch channels, from email to phone for example, and allows them to engage with suppliers using the channel that works for them, whenever they choose.
4. Lower service delivery costs – Rather than incurring the costs of having customer service employees attempting to call all customers at contract renewal time, win-back bots can be programmed to engage with customers and provide personalised interactive messages defined by your organization. This allows customer service managers to employ a smaller, focused team of customer service stars who are able to resolve more complex customer retention issues over the phone and reward customer loyalty.
AA Ireland found that using a number of chatbots, each focused on a specific customer service detail, enabled its webchat team to provide additional capacity and support to the customer service and sales teams.
5. Differentiated customer experience – Contact centre technology expert, Kate Leggett, VP and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research, asserts that while customers prefer self-service for getting quick answers and completing routine tasks, they will call an organization if the matter is more complicated. That’s why we designed our win-back and renewal chatbot to provide customers with an interface that combines conversational AI, human workflow and application protocol interface (API) capabilities, to deliver an engaging customer experience, that is immersive, without being intrusive. By providing your customers with a multiple-choice approach to renewal and win-back and a clear path to completing the customer journey, which is supported by rich content, customer service managers can deliver a customer experience that is consistent with both their organization’s commercial goals and brand values.
Applying the theory – how AA Ireland uses bots to drive customer engagement
To build on its existing app and webchat service and to serve customers more efficiently, the AA embarked on a mission to introduce chatbot technology to manage customer policy renewals, improve conversions on new quotes and to create a convenient way for existing customers to gain 24/7 access to information about their policies.
To train the bots, AA Ireland studied webchat conversations to see what customers actually asked. They learned from experienced customer service advisers how to support a customer journey, including how to overcome objections within webchat conversations. The content team and developers then worked together to ensure that the resulting quote bot and customer service bot were consistent with the organization’s brand voice. Customers were aware at the outset that they were talking to a bot and were able to handover to a service adviser whenever they wanted.
AA Ireland found that customers readily-adopted the quote bot and customer service bot and when they did call customer service advisers for additional support, call times were reduced from an average of 16.5 minutes to 10 minutes, while quote to conversion rates increased by 11 percent.
Your conversations with your customers and the responses from your customer service advisers provide a rich resource for training task-focused bots to deliver equally good experiences to future customers, at a time that suits them and using their preferred channel. So next time your customer service team is tasked with managing contract renewals, consider how you can use a team of bots to play a winning role in your organization’s customer retention strategy.
About the Author
Cathal McGloin is the CEO and co-founder of ServisBOT, a technology company that provides a conversational-AI platform which helps organizations to rapidly develop bots that transform customer engagement. Cathal is an engineer who loves applying emerging technology to solve everyday problems. He formerly founded contact centre analytics company, Performix Technologies, which was acquired by Nice Systems in 2006; Arantech, which was acquired by Tektronix in 2009 and FeedHenry, which was acquired by Red Hat in 2014. His previous enterprise IT career was with Siemens, Germany, and Cap Gemini, UK.