In the consumer packaged goods (CPG) space, whether a brand views customer service as a powerful marketing tool or as a cost of doing business, one thing is certain: customer experience (CX) is vital to their success and brand reputation.
CPG customer service can involve sensitive interactions where the brand can’t afford to make a mistake. (Think: inaccurate information about food allergens and the potential ensuing media storm.)
Highly complex scenarios are also common and can result in long handle times—not to mention long training periods for associates.
However, modern contact centers are now leveraging the power of attended automation technology not only to liberate customer service agents from mundane, repetitive tasks, but also to act as a guide through the complex, and often sensitive, scenarios common in the CPG space.
CPG customer service can involve sensitive interactions where the brand can’t afford to make a mistake. Highly complex scenarios are also common…
Why the Human Touch Is Still Important
Yes, digital self-service has been a game changer in customer service. Consumers can look up nutritional information on a brand’s website or app. They can ask about product availability via a chatbot. We’re now at a point where the vast majority of individual customer touch points are happening via digital self-service.
However, many brands have learned that you can’t force digital adoption on your customers: if it’s easier, better, faster, or less frustrating to talk to a person, customers will make that choice.
Customers expect an effortless digital self-service option (web, in-app, knowledge base, chatbots) for simple service, but they’re still looking for help from a human customer service agent when encountering:
- Inconvenient self-service options.
- Complex or unusual scenarios.
- Emotionally driven interactions.
What Is Attended Automation?
These matters have led to the development and application of attended automation for the contact center space.
Nestled comfortably between self-service automation and unaided live agent, attended automation combines digital automation with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to deliver the ultimate CX assistant.
Yet rather than unattended AI, such as a chatbot that interacts directly with a customer, attended automation navigates workflows ahead of, behind, and alongside an agent.
However, many brands have learned that you can’t force digital adoption on your customers…
Attended automation takes care of tedious or repetitive tasks, like searching multiple tools throughout the tech stack or filling out form fields, thereby freeing up the agent to provide a more personalized, empathetic experience for the customer.
Through machine learning and historical examples, attended automation can even help the agent write more accurate and on-brand email and text responses. The agent simply reviews, amends, and personalizes as necessary, then sends them: drastically reducing AHT and improving QA scores.
Improving the Agent Experience
Customer service programs for the CPG industry deal with a number of specific pain points. However, attended automation platforms have the potential to completely transform these problem areas.
Here are three issues impacting CX in the CPG space, and the ways attended automation can help.
1. Data collection and after-call work leads to long handle times.
In the CPG space especially, customer service agents are under pressure to take meticulous notes during each case.
The result? They often end up dividing their attention between active listening and trying to catch all the details. Customers may be asked to repeat their personal information, particularly when the agent switches between tools in the tech stack—a frustrating experience for all involved.
Even once the customer hangs up, the agent’s work is far from over. They must make sure to type up a case summary, documenting all the details. This is manageable when call volume is low or evenly dispersed, but how often is that the case?
This is where attended automation shines. It can surface customer history in an instant and autofill form fields across an agent’s entire tech stack. This reduces the opportunity for human error and saves precious time.
Attended automation can also note actions an agent takes during a call and generate a thorough case summary once the call is complete for the agent to review, add additional color or context, and approve. With this application, data collection and after-call processes then take far less time and become much more accurate.
2. An extensive product catalog and knowledge base can overwhelm agents.
CPG brands, almo informatioist by definition, maintain vast and ever-changing product knowledge documentation. It’s unrealistic for a CX agent to commit it all to memory. Sometimes, even knowing where or how to find the right information at the right time can be incredibly complicated.
An attended automation platform utilizes machine learning to suggest the best or most likely knowledge base articles or product information sheets. Not only does this make life easier for the agents, but it also ensures they are referencing the most accurate and up-to-date information—which is especially vital when dealing with recalled products or updated formulations.
3. Complex risk management and case-coding processes leave room for errors.
A customer calling to complain about a change to a product’s recipe may not be a life-or-death situation, but a customer calling about allergen concerns might be.
…an attended automation platform can prompt the agent to ask specific questions, flag possible risks, and present related subjects and information…
That’s what makes risk management and case coding so critical—and so complex—for CPG brands. An agent is expected to ask probing questions to properly assess the case, but this leaves room for misinterpretation, overlooked details, or simple human error.
As the agent listens to the customer’s concerns, an attended automation platform can prompt the agent to ask specific questions, flag possible risks, and present related subjects and information for a more thorough discovery process. The better an agent understands the consumer’s core issue, the more useful the agent can ultimately be.
Getting Buy-In on Attended Automation From Stakeholders
Despite everything an attended automation platform can do for your contact center, gaining approval from stakeholders for new technology is not always easy.
From data security concerns and implementation to upfront costs and ROI, thoroughly researching potential technology partners ensures a good fit for your program and makes convincing other teams that much easier.
When searching for an attended automation solution, here are a few things to consider:
- Data security. What information can the AI access? How does the solution provider keep data safe and secure? Look for a technology partner that demonstrates a commitment to security compliance.
- Implementation. How long will it take to implement the new tech? How much lifting is required from your team or other teams in your organization? Keep in mind that well-executed machine learning typically involves a period of training the AI.
- Upfront and ongoing costs. Are there setup fees? Does the technology partner offer a pilot program? How much support is included with the purchase of a license? Comprehensive support that includes ongoing calibration can make all the difference.
- ROI. How much of an impact can you expect the solution to have on your main areas of concern? How does the solution provider measure that? The best attended automation platforms will deliver a strong, targeted ROI that no CFO could resist.
Above all, consider the people who will be using it. The right attended automation solution for your contact center is the one your agents love to use. No matter what it promises, if it doesn’t improve the agent’s day-to-day experience, it won’t deliver the results you want.