The contact center is at the leading edge of use cases for chatbots, and for good reason. As the third decade of the 21st century approaches, customers expect to be able to get answers to their questions at any time, from any place, and by the method or channel most convenient for them. Overall comfort in chatbots is rising, with a recent LivePerson survey finding nearly 80 percent of people reported interacting with them for customer care. The savings in terms of time and costs are obvious for large companies looking to reallocate resources more efficiently, but what about their smaller counterparts who would find it challenging to satisfy the demand for 24/7 contact center support?
Blue Ocean Contact Centers, a Canadian company that specializes in outsourcing customer care for a client base that ranges from startups to Fortune 500 brands, discovered firsthand the leading role that chatbots can play in meeting today’s expectations for round the clock service. By tapping Passage AI’s conversational AI platform, highly regarded for its accuracy and Natural Language Processing (NLP) capabilities, Blue Ocean was able to help one particular client — a low-cost MVNO — punch well above its weight when it comes to handling incoming chat requests quickly and accurately.
Why a Chatbot Made Sense
For this particular client, the chatbot was devised to handle chat requests on two landing pages on the company’s website. Originally, any visitors to those pages clicked on the chat icon and were immediately directed to fill out a form before being connected to a live agent.
This setup placed unnecessary demands on the customer right off the bat and presented a challenge for the MVNO to provide the kind of 24-hour service necessary without running up high labor costs, even when contracting with an expert in the field like Blue Ocean Contact Centers. It also wasn’t alone among Blue Ocean’s clients, leading the company to search for the right kind of partner it eventually found in Passage AI.
“More and more, existing and prospective clients are interested in what AI solutions are available in order to better serve customers while containing customer service costs,” said Mathieu Connor, Project Manager for Blue Ocean. “It was imperative for our organization to stay current on emergent trends in this space, and ultimately to have an AI solution in place to serve the needs of our clients. After meeting with several companies in the AI space, we chose Passage AI to pilot a project for one of our tech clients.”
From the time Connor joined the project in November 2018, it took only a matter of months for the client’s chatbot to reach the production stage in 2019. With the bot in place, the website chat interface changed for the better; customers clicking on the chat icon are now presented with the most popular self serve articles and given the ability to ask a question without filling out a form. Thanks to the NLP technology built into the bot, customers are directed quickly to the article most likely to help them, or to a live employee if more complex assistance is necessary.
Right from the start, it provided insight into exactly how it was making an impact on chat volume and the overall customer experience.
Among the important statistics provided by the bot are:
- Sessions: How many total chat sessions are being handled by the bot.
- Hourly sessions: How many sessions are handled during the client’s hours of operations compared to the hours in which it is closed.
- CSR transfer: What percentage of chats require or don’t require a transfer to a live agent to solve the customer’s issue.
- Most served articles: To gain an understanding of why customers are reaching out for help.
And from this data, powerful insights can be gleaned, proving the value of Blue Ocean’s chatbot solution.
“Average speed of answer, response time, abandon rate, and satisfaction percentage are the most important metrics for our customer,” Connor said. “We have seen a notable improvement in these metrics since launching the chatbot.”
The Big Experiment
Even with plenty of numbers to crunch, Blue Ocean couldn’t tell exactly how much of the request load the chatbot was handling. To find out for sure, Blue Ocean had the MVNO see what life was like without the bot, turning it off for a week in the beginning of October 2019.
The results were dramatic: Without the chatbot, human agents had to handle a much greater volume of inquiries, and customers had to wait longer while being less likely to stick around until they got their answers.
“Immediately upon removing the bot, chat volume increased by 75%,” Connor said. “We also saw a dramatic increase in Tier 1 related questions (general inquiries, sales, etc.) and wait time (average speed of answer, response time, etc.). Once the bot was turned back on, volume returned to a stable level.”
One Solution That Applies to All
With one significant success story under its belt, the question becomes whether Blue Ocean feels the same benefits would be seen by other clients who come seeking advice on conversational AI solutions of their own.
The feeling around the company is that they would, as the entire experience of working with Passage AI has been positive — as well as educational.
“Passage AI has been a wonderful partner to our organization in learning more about the AI space,” Connor said. “If you need a partner to patiently walk you through the process of implementing an AI solution, you would be hard pressed to find an easier company to work with than Passage AI. They are responsive to questions and ideas and able to solve issues quickly.
“Bottom line, since this chatbot launched, we are seeing fewer contacts, answering customers quicker than ever (including overnight because the bot runs 24/7), and our agents are happier because they are handling more interesting and challenging contacts while the bot handles the simple, repetitive questions,” Connor added. “We will surely explore working with Passage AI for any future AI needs.”
About Passage AI
Founded in 2016 by Walmart Labs alumni Madhu Mathihalli and Ravi N. Raj and LinkedIn alumnus Mitul Tiwari, Passage AI enables businesses to harness the power of AI-enabled conversational interfaces to bring bottom-line benefits, to better utilize service agents saddled by mundane tasks, and to deliver exceptional customer experience. Passage AI counts Kohl’s, Bridgestone, Shell, Wynn, Ford and TransUnion among the business and services that use its solution. A 2018 TiE50, Golden Bridge and Global Achievement for AI award winner, the company has secured $10.3 million in total funding and is headquartered in Mountain View, Calif. More information can be found at https://www.passage.ai or by emailing email@example.com.