Employee and robot are like Siamese twins

With data we help customers before they even realise it’s necessary

The experience and the personal tone of employees are important when automating the customer service of VodafoneZiggo. “The robot assists the employee in helping customers faster, and the employee assists in making the robot smarter,” says Sjors de Visser, director Customer Services Consumer Market.

It’s not that the phones aren’t ringing in the contact centres, but in the past ten years, the focus has shifted towards digital, says Sjors. Chat, email, Facebook Messenger, social media and soon Apple Business Chat and WhatsApp, he lists. “All channels used by Customer Services to communicate with the customer. In future I believe the main communication channels will be live chat and messaging. In future, customers will be able to talk to devices, like their mobile phone or Google Home box, and we can instantly send an instruction video or photograph. It’s parties like Google and Apple we’re waiting for to further develop their digital assistants. We are preparing for this by automating our processes as much as we can.”

Learning from 2 million chats and emails
In that automation process the employee plays an important role. “We have analysed about 2 million chats and emails. In all the questions and answers we have looked for the logic. As a result, the employee is now given recommended options when a customer contacts him. The most logical answer appears on the screen and all he has to do is click on it. If it’s not the right answer, the system learns from the answer the employee does select,” Sjors explains. The goal is to have the system take over the chat entirely for certain customer questions. “If in 95% of the contact moments it comes up with the right answers, it’s better for the bot to take over the chats. We will start with this in 2019.”

How do we keep it personal?
The risk of automating chats is that the customer gets standardized, robot-like answers. To avoid that, VodafoneZiggo adds a personalised tone to the system. “That’s another reason why employees are so important”, says Sjors. “Their personal way of giving answers is incorporated in the system.” Moreover, the employee will always be available in the background. “We offer the customer three standard answers, for example in Facebook Messenger, and then ask him if this has been helpful. If not, an employee takes over immediately.” Also in telephony the personal element remains important. In order to personalise the options menu they even built a dedicated system, according to Sjors.

Working towards Self-Service
The ultimate goal is to ensure customers themselves can organise and solve as much as possible without needing an employee, unless they wish to. “There are several ways in which we strive to achieve that. We are already accustomed to having systems help our employees, for example with step-by-step plans. We want to make these available to customers to. Personalisation will be of immense help in that respect. A customer calling, mailing or chatting with the aim to request a login code, will see that code instantly, instead of having an employee search for that code in a database. An important condition for a well-functioning Self-Service is that all data are available in one central location. Only then can we coordinate everything properly for all service channels,” Sjors explains.

Using data to help customers proactively
What is the biggest challenge for Customer Services with regard to data? “My preferred scenario is that the customer has no need to tell us what’s wrong, because we have already identified the problem,” Sjors says. “Based on the data itself we have already identified the failure, and will send the customer a message that we have reset his modem. Preferably before he has even noticed himself that something was wrong.”