With the “Forbes 30 under 30” founders of e-bot7, Phocus DC shares the mission of unbeatable customer experience. The leading platform for customer communication of e-bot7 automates requests and increases the efficiency of customer communication through artificial intelligence.
The AI analyses incoming messages that support your employees and automates responses and processes. This reduces costs and increases revenues. e-bot7 has won numerous awards in a very short time with its communication platform for AI-based and fully automated interactions, including the renowned Impact Award, where it was selected from over 2,500 startups in Europe. As a partner, we help you to integrate the technology of e-bot7 in combination with the Customer Service Outsourcing and B2B Live Chat of PDC in sales and service into your customer service and thus increase the efficiency of your customer communication.
But how does that actually work? Customer Service Outsourcing and AI? With the perfect interaction of human and artificial-intelligent components! But read for yourself, we asked Xaver Lehmann, one of the founders of e-bot7 and Philipp Moder, the founder of Phocus Direct Communication, exciting questions about customer experience, artificial intelligence and customer service in an interview:
Customer Experience describes the sum of experiences that a customer has with a company during all phases of cooperation. So there are several crucial touchpoints that influence the CX. What is the role of customer service and how significant is it?
Xaver: With the evolution of CX in recent years, companies are facing new challenges such as multi-channel customer service, more personalization and digital transformation. CX is firmly positioned as a competitive advantage and never before has it been more important to provide consistent, seamless customer service to customers.
Philipp: Thank you for the question, because in my perception many managers think that customer experience = customer service. Professional customer service is undoubtedly one of the main components of a customer journey, but it is only part of it. The term customer experience refers to the entire journey that a customer makes with a supplier – in other words, through all phases of the procurement process. In most cases, however, this journey today begins on the website and not directly with a contact with the customer service. At most, the customer service is responsible for the live chat on the website. As soon as a customer has bought a product or made use of a solution, Customer Service naturally comes into play. There are numerous studies that impressively prove that a good experience with customer service is a decisive lever to get customers excited about a follow-up purchase – and: these customers are also willing to pay a higher price, so it is a wonderful starting point to counteract the “stinginess is cool” mentality, to further develop existing customers and to increase margins.
Why and how has communication between companies and customers changed?
Xaver: Traditional customer service is characterised by high costs and manual processes. At the same time, customer demand for faster service on digital channels is constantly increasing. The distribution of the request volume is not balanced so that the support capacity is either not permanently used or the processing time is too high for customers during peak times.
This is exactly where companies with artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual assistants can help because customers today expect individual, simple, fast and automated dialogue. Chatbots not only meet customer needs but also offer generally improved customer experience and thus increased customer satisfaction. In addition, the intelligent evaluation of newly acquired customer data creates a more precise understanding of customer needs.
Philipp: New technologies and the opportunities they offer, combined with the experience we have gained as a private customer with many companies, mean that this expectation is increasingly being transferred to B2B business. Why should I have to wait in some kind of queue again or struggle through audio text platforms to get a satisfactory answer in the end when I can be served in a live chat virtually in real-time? This is intensified by the generation change – currently, more than 25% of the working population in Germany already come from the Millenials and GenZ generations, so email and telephone are not always the preferred channels of contact.
I don’t know anybody who spends only one cent for this kind of bad audio text platform, for example. Companies should, therefore, scale their customer service resources to ensure customer-friendly accessibility and also rely on modern technologies such as bots and live chat. The crux of the matter is that in many companies, customer service is still regarded as a “cost centre”, in the age of customer experience, as the often decisive competitive advantage, unfortunately completely incomprehensible.
What role do the technological adaptation of companies and the integration of AI play in this communication shift?
Xaver: Today, automation, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning bring real, permanent changes to the contact centre structure. Virtual assistants and other tools already serve customers on a large and small scale, and companies are increasingly using AI chatbots. Now the challenge is not to miss the boat.
Philipp: Once again, the B2C industry is setting a good example. We can already find numerous companies here today that have significantly increased productivity and service levels by using chats and bots. The companies that are now acting quickly in B2B and evaluating the options that arise will be ahead. For me personally, the situation of adaptability can be compared with e-commerce in the form of shops and the like – B2C has shown many people that B2B is only really waking up.
AI in customer service: philosophical no-go or efficient win-win situation?
Xaver: In my opinion, it is not a decision for or against man or machine. It’s more about the question of how man and machine can best work together to create an optimal experience for the customer (and the customer should always be at the centre of attention).
Philipp: It must be a win-win situation, otherwise we should all put the subject aside. There are undoubtedly some advantages that nobody can deny:
To put it in very pragmatic terms: Chatbots don’t know holidays, don’t get sick and don’t fluctuate, as we all do at some point. It is an easy way to ensure 24/7 availability for customers.
Today, everything has to happen quickly, we all expect an immediate response to questions. Professionally created bots guarantee that customers receive immediate, high-quality answers.
Fast immediate solutions for simple topics
This is the strength of bots, simple 1st level requests can usually be solved by bots alone. If, contrary to expectations, the answer does not provide the desired quality, there is the option of direct forwarding to a customer service employee.
Experience shows that the payback period for the introduction of a chatbot is six to 12 months. We know of cases in which the expenses for customer service can be reduced by up to 60%.
Currently, there are still two serious deficits. Chatbots cannot (yet) help in answering complex questions. Usually, a reference is made to FAQs or – if available – to a telephone hotline. For customers, this can result in a double effort, although this is certainly not much more annoying than the countless Audiotex platforms. More serious from my perception is that chatbots are not yet able to recognize the emotional state of a customer. Although intensive work is being done on this, this remains the biggest challenge. The good old telephone call is simply unbeatable, empathic customer service employees cannot be replaced by any chatbot at present.
Where does the future of AI lie in the area of customer experience?
Xaver: The earlier you integrate innovative technologies like AI, the better and faster you can learn from the technology in order to use it optimally for the needs of the customers. We are certainly still at the beginning of the technology. What is certain, however, is that technology is getting better every day and will be able to answer more and more inquiries individually. So it is only a question of time.
I am also convinced that the hybrid approach, in which the human employee and the AI complement each other, will prevail in the coming years. With our hybrid agent + AI model, we are already automating customer service processes and saving costs. The AI system is constantly learning and supports employees with automated answers and processes. This reduces agent workload and balances out fluctuations in customer service quality.
Philipp: When we talk about the entire customer journey and not just the use of AI in customer service, the potential is incredible. AI is finding its way into websites, social media, inbound marketing, social selling and many other areas, helping companies deliver a better customer experience. I agree with Xaver’s statement that the future will be in hybrid work, because only then will it be possible to really deliver a very good customer experience, regardless of what it is about.
What are the goals of the partnership?
Xaver: Together with Phocus DC, we are excited to revolutionize customer service using AI. With joint expertise, we can ensure that end customers can experience a fast, personalized and direct omnichannel experience without having to wait in line or wait days for an email.
Philipp: “We were looking for a technology partner who would work with us to pave the way to AI-based customer service, especially for B2B companies. Since we already have technology partnerships with companies such as HubSpot, echobot, Leadtributor and many other providers, we know that especially young companies have the flexibility that is necessary to do this missionary work. Large technology providers act in their universe according to their rules and often forget the customer requirement. Entertain. B2B companies, therefore, have the possibility to implement the technology together with e-bot7 and us, or to take the first steps towards an AI-supported customer service by outsourcing – we are looking forward to that!
This article was published by our partner Phocus DC.