Today’s customers expect agents to have increasingly detailed knowledge of products, services, and company policies so they can achieve first contact resolution (FCR). However, the reality is that only 35% of agents say this is possible, as the majority (57%) do not have any AI tools, and more than half (53%) do not use a knowledge base.
The study surveyed 750 customer-facing employees, customer experience (CX) managers, and content managers in seven countries across North America, EMEA and APAC, and found that agents in physical locations are worse off than their counterparts in contact centers. Only 30% of field agents have AI tools compared to 44% in contact centers, and the unpleasant result for customers is that 20% of interactions require a call-back and 13% get transferred.
“We know that there is a direct correlation between agent frustration and customer discontent, and 85% of customer-facing employees expressed a very high degree of frustration because they can’t meet customer expectations,” said Ken Landoline, Principal Analyst, Ovum. “As the study highlights, all customer support employees need to be better equipped to meet rapidly growing customer expectations. Employees want to step up but are hampered by mediocre training and outdated, inefficient tools. Clearly this needs to change, or customer loyalty and revenue will ultimately suffer.”
AI’s Untapped Potential
AI-powered knowledge management tools offer a powerful solution to customer-facing employees working inside or outside of the contact center who need instant access to company information, and 56% of surveyed knowledge base users are either extremely or very satisfied with them. Knowledge bases reduce the amount of time it takes to find information (66% think they are easy to search) and serve as a single source of truth for employees across teams and departments. LogMeIn, who commissioned the study with Ovum, is already working closely with companies to help reduce internal escalations by up to 30% with Bold360’s Advise solution, which leverages AI-powered knowledge management.
AI deployments for customer service and support also go beyond knowledge management. The majority are for automating routine tasks (60%) and assisting agents in real time (50%), followed by AI for customer journey mapping. Seventy-five percent of agents have a feedback system in place to advise management of issues they are facing during the course of their workday, and one-third utilize automatic pop-ups that recommend helpful next-best actions.
Yet, AI adoption is still in early stages. The majority of managers who participated in the survey are still formulating their AI strategy (38%) or only have an early-phase strategy in place (28%). The dominant approach to implementation is to put ad hoc point solutions in place for a few selected use cases (44%).
“A lack of tools for customer service agents creates a vicious circle: staff can’t meet customer expectations which creates employee frustration, turnover, and of course, a poor customer experience,” said Ryan Lester, Senior Director of Customer Engagement Technologies at LogMeIn. “Even though powerful technologies like AI-based knowledge management tools can reverse the trend, adoption is slow and it’s hurting these organizations. Poor customer experiences have a negative impact on sales and repeat business, so this is a pressing issue that businesses need to address at the highest levels.”