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Customer service technology: what changes with the coronavirus pandemic?

Written by Interactive Media

June 26, 2020

The past few weeks have been marked by a profound transformation in society. The coronavirus pandemic has forced huge changes in habits and brought about a series of urgent adaptations – for both people and businesses. Technology in customer service, for example, has gained even more space and relevance, corresponding to the new demands of the market.

On a daily basis, COVID-19 modifies the routines and causes people into new ways of learning and buying. In companies, the coronavirus has forced the adoption of more integrated, transparent, and flexible tools, to try and ensure the quality of service in these challenging times.

In this post we add our view of the new corporate scenario and of what the importance of implementing the right technology for customer experience.

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The impact of the coronavirus on consumer behavior

The first case of COVID-19 in the US was officially announced in January 2020. Since then, with the rapid expansion of the virus and aiming to contain the spread of the disease, states and counties have adopted restrictive measures to try and preserve the health and maximize the safety of individuals.
The recommendation for physical isolation was, therefore, one of the first guidelines. As a result, daily activities – such as going to school and dining out – needed to be replaced by routines at home.

From the point of view of consumer behavior, the changes have been immediate and profound. Schools switched to online classes and so usage of remote conference software like Zoom skyrocketed overnight. Gyms were among the first businesses to close their doors, and sales of at-home exercise equipment went through the roof.

In general, electronic commerce increased significantly during social isolation. According to Adobe’s Digital Economy Index, U.S e-commerce market jumped 49% in April compared to the baseline period in early March before pandemic restrictions were put in place. This is thanks to the essential workers who pack and deliver our food and purchases: they are indispensable and very much appreciated. There would be a lot to say about their plight and the risk they go through on a daily basis to help all others, but this blog is more about the technology revolution that has been supercharged by the coronavirus.

Technology plays a central role in enabling routines in line with safety recommendations, and provides very efficient alternatives for solving problems that, just a few months ago, did not seem to exist.

The new work mode in coronovirus times

One of the most stunning transformations forced by the coronavirus has been in the way we work. Working form home, for example, has become mandatory for many companies and is now part of the daily life of 62% of employed Americans in an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the corporate environment.

Of course, working from home includes meetings. Communication software is powerful enough, and widespread enough, that this is possible: companies providing it have been put to the task for the increased volume and have reacted well. Many will adopt this model even after the coronavirus emergency has passed.

Likewise, the need to optimize resources demanded that managers rethink the workflow and visualize new opportunities to reduce costs and, at the same time, leverage results. Once again, technology has emerged as an excellent ally. Artificial intelligence – which, in 2019, was already on the investment radar of 90% of managers -, to name just one of the possibilities, is a highly productive solution. In addition, it can be implemented in companies of the most diverse sizes and segments, enhancing operations at the factory or at the customer service center.

The importance of technology in customer experience

It has long been clear that, when it comes to customer service, technology is indispensable. Integrated call registration, for example, is quite common in modern organizations and has become essential in the mission of centralizing data, ensuring a more efficient, agile and transparent process.

Neglecting good service is undoubtedly the shortest path to failure. Back in 2017, Walker released a study stating that by 2020, customer experience would overtake price and product as a key differentiator. 2020 is now here and we couldn’t agree more with Walker’s insights. Researches have shown that nearly 70% of people would currently spend more money with a company that has excellent customer service.

This indicator reinforces the urgency of inserting, in the day-to-day contact center, tools capable of optimizing work and maximizing team performance in human service, as well as multichannel self-service modules based on the customer’s profile and history, enjoying the maturity of natural language processing technology (NLP, Natural Language Processing) for a more efficient and humanized service.

In times of pandemic, when most agents work from home and the impact of technology is felt more than ever, it is even more valuable to see the customer service area in a strategic, comprehensive and automated way. To support those pillars, Interactive Media offers IM.MIND, a software platform that makes use of artificial intelligence to manage conversational and multichannel virtual agents.

IM.MIND also functions as a logical infrastructure for development, control and support, which includes several interfaces dedicated to the navigation flows developers, to the service administrators and to the business resources that analyse the service to apply ever more helpful strategies, optimizing the users experience.

Deploying, testing and managing virtual agents and technology in customer service becomes strategic to move the end to end process along and guarantee the efficiency and adherence of the solution to market requirements.

We have seen this first-hand. At Interactive Media, the increase in demand for voice bots is already significant. One of our customers in Brazil, for example, requested to double their monthly capacity: from 800 thousand to 1.6 million calls. According to Roberto Valente, Interactive Media’s CEO, in Italy the increase in requests was equally impressive, reaching more than 100 contacts per second in the biggest voice bot deployment.

In conclusion, we believe that the focus on excellent customer service and the technology that makes it possible must be considered a priority to ease the challenges of the coronavirus, reducing the negative impacts of the pandemic on business. It is a necessity to attract and retain customers, responding to demands quickly and completely.

And the benefits of technology in the customer experience are not restricted to periods of insecurity or crisis. When the pandemic is contained – or even neutralized, through vaccines and / or proven treatments (and we hope that will be soon!), the market will return to more normal conditions, but good customer service will not lose relevance.

It is likely instead that the exact opposite will happen: the relationship between people and companies will become even more intimate and will demand more and more attention. IM.MIND is certainly the right technology in customer service to differentiate organizations that are able to face not only today’s challenges, but also tomorrow’s new normal.

To understand how IM.MIND can help your business adapt to the new reality of the market – during and after the coronavirus pandemic – request a free demo of the software and get to know our solution focused on excellent and efficient customer experience.

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