Look over the shoulder of your support team as they field inquiries from customers, assign tickets and solve problems. What do you see? A lot of repetitiveness, data entry and triaging that seems like a massive waste of your precious resources.
Let’s face it, most support issues aren’t that urgent, aren’t that unique and aren’t that hard to solve. But because the customers asking for help don’t necessarily know what they’re asking for, use a variety of terminology and provide varying levels of detail, we feel obligated to have a trained human being run interference and translate their request into something actionable for a technician to handle.
But as your business grows, your support staff has to grow with it to handle the increased inquiry load, which seriously cuts into your bottom line and creates additional headcount on the payroll. Luckily, technology is now able to provide some relief from exponential customer service department growth while still providing a superior customer experience.
That’s because AI and bots have come to lighten the load and streamline the support process. Serving as the first line of support, support bots can create and assign tickets, schedule support calls, provide status updates and escalate critical issues before a single support staff member is even engaged.
With bots handling the initial inquiry, your technical support staff will save close to 30 hours per year each, which means they can help more customers during their shift and you can tap the brakes on hiring yet another support specialist.
And these bots aren’t just chatting with customers and providing canned responses, they’re fully integrated with your suite of PSA tools and calendars to streamline the ticketing process and put appointments in people’s calendars. Over time, the bots will get even smarter and start solving routine issues with customers directly, avoiding the need for a tech to get involved at all.
It turns out that many customers prefer chatting to phone calls when they’re looking for help, especially if they’re just scheduling a future appointment, but having a bot in place doesn’t mean they still can’t pick up the phone and call your toll-free support line. It just means a lot of them will bypass the pleasantries and keep their fingers on their keyboards to get the help they need. And by having your support bots tie into the same ticketing system used in your other support channels, there’s little risk of anyone’s case getting lost in your omni-channel support suite.
So who’s programming these newfangled virtual support team members? There are startups focused on the MSP space, such as SupportBot and Talla, while major tech platform players such as Facebook and Microsoft will also try to gain a foothold in the support marketplace with their AI-driven bot solutions.
Another great benefit of a bot-driven customer support operation is the ability to see reporting and analytics on the entire customer interaction. You don’t have to remember what you said to a given customer or transcribe conversations into a CRM tool, it’s all captured by the bot solution for later analysis.
Of course any customer-facing bot must provide a flawless customer experience; no one wants angry phone calls about a bot interaction that wasted a customer’s time because it tried to do too much or was too picky about input formats. That’s why - for the time being - customer support bots should be limited to triaging and routing inquiries and very basic support tasks.
For MSPs, the key is choosing a solution that seamlessly integrates with the systems already being used internally; no one wants to have to open a different app, tool or browser page to see what’s new with the support bot. But providing customers with a quick way to request support from their devices and routing those requests to the right people using their current toolset? Now that’s a bot we can get behind.
Kirill Bensonoff is a seasoned entrepreneur and the founder of Unigma (by Kaseya), a unified cloud management platform. Kirill blogs regularly about cloud, tech and growing your managed services business. He can be reached at [email protected].