The last thing a frustrated customer will tolerate is a chatbot that doesn’t understand the request

Automated technology offers the opportunity for fast, convenient, and satisfying consumer transactions. But, if it’s not reliable and accurate, consumers quickly seek personal service to work out issues and receive guidance and reassurance.

That personal service needs to be truly personal. While artificial intelligence-powered chatbots are making strides, they’re still hit-and-miss. And the last thing a frustrated customer will tolerate is a chatbot that doesn’t understand the request or provide effective assistance. Online chat, while a step closer to personal touch, can still prove frustrating and cumbersome.

It takes real people having real conversations to achieve real solutions and satisfaction.

Better customer interactions and billpaying convenience are driving up customer satisfaction ratings—which is leading to improved collections and better portfolio performance.

Here are a few important tips fueling our contact center success—and that can be applied to help achieve optimum customer service outcomes for businesses across the board:

1. State-of-the-art contact center technology offers convenience and fast solutions for customers, in turn lowering the call volume to customer service reps. Consequently, reps can be much more easily and quickly reached when needed—providing the linchpin for customers seeking personal service without extended hold times.

2. When called upon, either as a result of a mishap with automated technology or to address other issues, reps must be sincere, authentic, sympathetic, and focused on resolution. Canned explanations and scripted apologies won’t cut it. Even if the rep doesn’t have all the answers, there must be a commitment to find them, and follow through on the commitment.

3. When deploying new technology, whether in beta form or beyond, let customers know how they can quickly connect them with a rep. And let them know the truth—that it’s new, may have some glitches, and that you will work diligently to correct anything both systemically and with the impacted customer. Where appropriate, bring them into the process to help troubleshoot and provide feedback.

4. Besides the technology’s core functionality, make sure its reporting and feedback systems can identify trends, challenges, and needs in near real-time—so that appropriate resources and needed repairs can be handled quickly. When these systems can be coordinated with department personnel charged with maintaining the technology instead of overworked IT departments, the timeline can be substantially expedited.

5. As with most systems these days, customer feedback helps drive further improvements. Three elements are key to the success of this effort: Make it quick, convenient, and non-salesy. In the current, intel-obsessed survey environment, there is a strong tendency to ask too many questions, try too hard to get positive reviews, and just generally browbeat the customer for feedback that can become part of a marketing campaign.

When ramping up technology, make sure everything supporting it is up to speed as well.

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