For new companies, customer support usually begins as a straightforward, human-led operation. A small team, often including the founders themselves, handles customer inquiries and issues, providing a personal touch to every interaction.  

In the early days of the business, this approach is fine, but as digital natives grow, customer needs also increase in volume and complexity. The challenge then becomes understanding the nature and purpose of these interactions while managing customer experience (CX) effectively. Why are customers reaching out? What issues are they facing? How can these interactions be segmented and streamlined for efficiency and effectiveness? 

To answer these questions and scale your customer support, startups and scaleups can benefit from a strategic blend of human expertise, technological innovation, and a contact strategy that ensures each customer interaction is handled as efficiently and effectively as possible.  

In this post, we explore how to maintain successful customer service as your business grows, emphasizing the importance of understanding customer behavior, implementing appropriate technology, and proactive use to optimize your contact strategy.  

To kick things off, let’s examine why knowledge of your customers is paramount in optimizing your CX. 

Understanding Customers to Optimize CX

An effective blend of humans and technology first requires understanding customers and why they are reaching out.  

Brands can achieve this by leveraging technologies like big data and advanced analytics, artificial intelligence AI), and customer relationship management (CRM) systems to gain insights into customer behaviors, preferences, and interactions across online and offline channels. These insights allow brands to evaluate the effectiveness of their CX strategies and tailor their approach to individual customers or specific groups.  

With a clear understanding of your customer interactions, you can introduce more technology to offer a personalized journey that directs people to the most appropriate and efficient channels. AI-powered chatbots, for example, can instantly handle a significant volume of simple queries, reducing the workload for your human support team and freeing them to handle more complex or sensitive issues. 

Intelligent routing systems are also great for analyzing the nature of customer queries and directing them to the most suitable advisor, ensuring that people always receive the best possible support.  

Again, the ability to understand customers and apply that understanding to enhance their journey is everything. It sets you up for success when introducing new technologies and augmenting your human support teams.

Humans + Technology = An Unstoppable Team

Customer expectations have risen to a point where they demand swift, efficient solutions to their problems. Still, while they appreciate the convenience of tech-enabled support, they also value the first-hand product knowledge and empathy that only a human can provide, so companies should view technology as a means to augment human capabilities, not completely replace them.  

AI, for example, can provide real-time advice to advisors on the next best action during a call, often presenting a solution or document to the advisor without them needing to search for it. The result is a massive boost to efficiency and shorter waiting times. AI can also monitor customer sentiment during an interaction, automatically bringing a supervisor into a call or advising the agent on handling the situation if the customer is angry or upset. Real-time interventions like this can prevent minor issues from escalating into major problems.  

The challenge of multilingual support can also be adressed with AI through the use of neural machine translation software, which enables advisors to interact with customers in any language via text or chat. These tools enable a team of English-speaking advisors to support customers worldwide in their local language, broadening a startup’s reach and enhancing its reputation for excellent customer service. Our Polyglot solution is a good example of this in action 

Automation can also help with post-interaction admin tasks, such as categorizing calls or chats and adding case notes. These minor tasks add up to a lot of time, so tools like this help free up agents to focus on what they do best: talking to customers.  

Empowering Humans to Provide Better Experiences

Along with supporting CX advisors on the front lines, technology can significantly improve human capabilities during onboarding, training, and career progression.  

For instance, startups can leverage e-learning platforms and learning management systems (LMS) to automate and remotely handle the initial training for new hires. By allowing new support team members to train from home with these tools, companies can save time and ensure that training is consistent and comprehensive.  

Continuous training can be further personalized and made flexible through adaptive learning technologies, eliminating the need for traditional classroom settings, and providing a tailored learning experience that caters to each advisor’s strengths and weaknesses.  

AI takes this further by allowing brands to provide specific, personalized coaching. For example, Concentrix + Webhelp’s MyLift solution monitors the ongoing performance of our game-changers to advise on areas to practice or improve, ensuring they are always ready to deliver the best possible service. 

AI also revolutionizes quality control and workforce management. Instead of randomly monitoring customer interactions, AI can scan and flag any unusual ones for further review, allowing supervisors to focus on maintaining quality where it’s most needed. 

In workforce management, AI’s predictive analytics capabilities can accurately forecast call volumes at different times, enabling brands to manage team sizes more effectively. This capability ensures enough agents are available to handle customer queries, thus optimizing resource allocation and enhancing customer service efficiency. 

Technology at the Start of the Journey

It is also worth considering how to deploy technology earlier in the customer journey and how brands can signpost support channels more clearly to avoid confusion in the first place. 

Think back to when you last bought a product and had an issue with it. What was your first action? Most of us turn to search engines or websites for help before calling or messaging the manufacturer, which creates an opportunity to create online content that helps address customer queries.  

For example, when one of Concentrix + Webhelp’s clients—a global luxury fashion retailer—wanted to diversify its voice support in favor of a digital-first customer contact model, we helped implement some engaging self-serve applications on its website. Visitors now have access to a virtual assistant through WhatsApp or webchat, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), order tracking, returns and exchanges, contact us, gift cards and services, and even a virtual closet where customers can try clothes digitally.  

Combining these self-serve solutions helped deflect 50% of voice interactions to digital channels and reduced simple order-tracking inquiries by 26%. By reducing low-value demand on their customer support teams, the retailer could also target more revenue-generating opportunities. 

In 2019, Amazon worked with the British National Health Service to improve the health advice given by their Alexa smart speakers. It has been beneficial for people with poor eyesight or those that are uncomfortable using a traditional search engine. 

In addition to digital content and voice-activated advice, brands can offer self-service help through an FAQ database where customers can search for information or provide a chatbot that can understand and resolve common questions. 

Developments in generative AI, such as ChatGPT by OpenAI, are leading to improvements in this area. Brands can train modern chatbots on large language models and include as much specialist technical information as possible. Customers can use natural language to chat with this bot, trained with in-depth knowledge of your product or service to provide fast, accurate support.  

Some Key Takeaways

For growing companies, combining human skills with technology is necessary to meet the high expectations of today’s customers. But the real key to success is using technology wisely, not just using it for the sake of using it.  

Growing companies should use technology to boost the abilities of their human teams, not replace them. It’s about giving human advisors the power of game-changing tools like AI and automation, helping them provide personal, empathic support and freeing them from routine tasks to focus on human connections with customers. 

The journey to great CX starts long before a customer gets in touch, with readily available answers to common questions, self-help FAQs, and AI-powered chatbots that provide quick, accurate support. By making support channels easy to find and offering help proactively, companies can prevent confusion and solve problems before they become more significant.  

Every interaction is a chance to understand, connect with, and impress the customer, driving digital growth and building strong customer relationships. By strategically blending technology and human support, closing the gap between customer expectations and your CX reality will become much more manageable.  

If you’re a start-up or scale-up business and want advice on how to scale blending the best of human and tech

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