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Best practices for CX teams during COVID-19

The reality of COVID-19 and ensuing public responses has placed customer-facing teams in the spotlight. CX teams across industries are facing increasing pressure and longer hours. 

As a member of Ada's product marketing team, I've been in close contact with our clients, trying to understand the challenges they're facing and the creative solutions they're using to get through the pandemic. Across Ada, we've heard the stories of insurmountable requests, calls, emails, and messages flowing in from concerned customers.

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As teams work remotely, stretch their bandwidth, and redistribute projects, Automated Customer Experience (ACX) leaders and bot managers will be called to take on more responsibilities. For many teams, this means increasing their investment in automation for support.

We're seeing an increasing investment in customer support. Since the start of the coronavirus, engagement with Ada-powered bots has increased by 10%, with chatters sending as many as 100M messages a day. We expect that engagement with AI-powered chatbots will only increase during the coronavirus period, and will become the status quo after these unusual times.

To support you in managing increasing support volume, I've asked our ACX Consultants and partners to share their best practices for leveraging automation for CX. Read their tips below:

 

Proactively reach out to customers.

Every communication channel should acknowledge the reality of COVID-19 and proactively communicate their business continuity plan. 

In your proactive messages, make sure that your communication is clear and consistent to maintain stable business results delivery. 

As the ACX leader, know your customers and empathize with their situation. If a customers’ travel plans are being cancelled, or if their finances are diminishing, ensure your language and greeting are considerate of their situation. Lead with value by using quick replies to point customers to relevant resources.

Customers will appreciate the organizations that proactively reach out to manage challenging situations, as opposed to the organizations that remain passive and unresponsive. 

 

Prepare for your website to crash. 

With an overload of customer questions and visitors, your site may crash. 

Make sure to embed your chatbot on the Error-404 page. This will ensure that, even if your website fails, you are still able to help customers and provide information that addresses their concerns. We have seen organizations use Ada on their error pages and support pages to immediately address customers’ concerns.

This worst-case scenario recently became the reality for a grocery vendor dealing with large-scale panic buying. 

The grocery store’s in-store and online orders were skyrocketing, so they turned to Ada to manage the overflow. By rolling out Ada on their Error-404 page, they were able to route customers to the support they needed and allow them to complete their food order. The lesson here is that it pays to prepare for the even the worst-case scenario, and to leverage your digital resources to adapt to unpredictable support volumes. 

 

Deliver consistent answers. 

To keep customers’ experience consistent and responsive, bot managers should get in the habit of updating their bot content. This is even more important in the wake of a pandemic, when many businesses have an entirely new set of information to communicate.

The travel industry is currently living this challenge. At Ada, we’ve seen bot managers work with their brand and legal teams to build content that is thoughtful and sensitive to customers’ needs. Many bot managers are extending this review by editing their most popular answers to ensure they reflect the changes caused by COVID-19. 

Finally, bot managers should take another look at questions tagged “not understood.” By reviewing these questions, bot managers can identify recurring or pressing issues that they can address to support their customers.

These best practices underscore the need for agility and empathy. Bot managers need to focus on reviewing and updating answers, and doing so will be a key success factor in this volatile time.

 

Triage customers’ needs.

Over the next few weeks, customers will continue calling, reaching out over live chat, and interacting with businesses’ AI-powered chatbots. With this increase in support volume, prioritization is key.

Use your live resources on customers who are hit the hardest by COVID-19, or who will experience its impact the soonest. For secondary cases, use automation to take the lead and route the response accordingly.

Airlines have been using this triage approach in novel ways.

One airline's ACX team prepared a conversational journey that automated the request to refund outstanding flights by leveraging existing API-calls built within the bot. This option provided a prompt resolution to the chatters without the need to contact a call center.

Another organization in the travel industry built a triage process into customer responses. They created an API that routed only customers who had flights in the next 72 hours to live chat; everyone else was directed to their automated chatbot running on Ada. 

By triaging, these airlines were able to provide a better customer experience without straining their live support.

Expectations are the greatest driver of satisfaction. If all else is uncertain, continue to provide realistic explanations and timelines around resolution.

 

Scaling support in light of COVID-19

Today’s customer experience leaders face a tough challenge: support growing and urgent customer needs, using the same or fewer resources than before.

One of our ACX partners, shared their thoughts on turning to chatbots to handle the overflow: 

"Why do we like chatbots? The market rises, transactions are rapidly increasing. [Companies] cannot handle it, customers have questions. You need to get extra manpower to handle the incoming wave of questions. Then you see the scalability of Ada kick in again, and you are happy that you made the choice a long time ago to go ACX-first."

These ambiguous times require bot managers to be proactive in both communication and action. 

Now is not the time for customers to be experiencing longer than normal wait times. Now is the time for them to feel supported and heard by the brands they trust.

Meet the challenge of the moment with an always-on, 24/7 chatbot solution that allows customers to resolve their most pressing issues.

Learn more about Ada and our COVID-19 response strategy here.

The original article was published here on April 3, 2020. 

Elan Keshen

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