Hybrid Chatbots and EVs from A Coruña to Trondheim

How can a contact center help to reduce the ecological footprint?

One of Our sector’s greatest, but nevertheless true cliché is, that everyone needs customer service if they have customers. Today it has become usual that clients from industries that did not even exist until a few years ago discover BPO customer service solutions. In the following case study, we explore the synergies of sustainability, technological development, and contact centers with the help of our implementation manager.

"The main requirement of our Client was customer support in 4 European languages, available 24/7. They had no previous experience in outsourcing neither in terms of tools nor regarding best practices, so we had to design the system from the bottom."

During the implementation of a new system, there are a lot of questions of course. Which ticketing and back-office systems should we use, what sort of inquiries can we expect from customers? Is phone, e-mail, or chatbot going to be the appropriate form of communication?

"During the preliminary meetings it turned out, that they mostly need non-voice services, chat and e-mail first and foremost. In order to handle these, we developed a chatbot, which was later extended with a live chat function too. Of course we can handle calls as well, but in this case texting is more prevalent."

So what kind of tasks can you come across in the case of a customer operating an EV-charging network? Customer service from A to Z, so handling any question or complaint. Many things can happen in such a widely used, international system. If there is an issue with the charging point, if the charging cable is stuck, the customer paid less or more than needed, or the invoice did not arrive in time, the customer service comes into the scene immediately. We receive feedback each time via text or over the phone.

"In addition to selecting the appropriate ticketing software it was an enormous task to build the chatbot in 4 languages, which in case of such an international cooperation must be able to answer almost every possible question. The development was a complex process, requiring a lot of testing and patching, not only by the developers, but also by operators, team leaders, and testers. Millions of comments, creating tremendous amount of content in every language, where the service is available."

The cherry on the top was reviewing the chatbot flow with native-speaking professionals since English idioms might mean something completely different in Dutch or French. The limited character count imposed by the chatbot format is just something I’d like to mention as a curiosity. The implementation of the project meant about three months of active, daily work from a team of about 10 people."

Chatbot or Live Chat?

For most people, chatbot and live chat support probably means the same. The difference between the two is that the chatbot is a system, which needs no human resource, or in other words, it is an automated customer service solution that does not need an operator to answer more simple questions. The live chat support can give more precise, tailored answers for problems but in this case, human agents are still required on the current level of our technology.

"In this campaign, due to the complexity of the tasks and questions we often use the latter solution, so the customers can more freely ask their questions. But in many cases, the chatbot answers everything well, so in this case we can talk about a hybrid solution."

The heart of good customer service is continual monitoring and improvement. It is not enough to simply build a system, but it is crucial that it always reacts to comments and feedback either from customers or from the internal reporting team.

"During the co-operation, we continually develop the chatbot and the ticketing system as well and extend them with new functions. We invented tagging systems, so we can filter certain inquiries. Not to mention this is a non-stop service, so we had to find a team who can commit to graveyard shifts, so the customers can receive continual support since they travel at night as well.

In addition to serving B2C clients for a while we have handled B2B partners as well, companies who maintain smaller or larger fleets of EVs. If a company has at least 10 EVs they are already in the B2B category, but this number can be up in the thousands. We handle for example the delivery of application keyfobs and keycards, and they have ordered thousands of cards at the same time before. Of course, one car may have dozens of cards, but this still illustrates the numbers in this area.

We are also dealing with invoicing inquiries,  but if the charging point has an error, then we restart it using the system. Fortunately, our Client’s operating theatre is increasing, so since the go-live, at the beginning of last year, we have added three further countries and languages to the service. It is fun to imagine that if in this system anyone wants to charge an EV from Barcelona to Oslo, then we help to solve their problems, sometimes from thousands of kilometers."

One of the stereotypes regarding outsourced customer service is that the employees of the BPO are not professionals, so they cannot help customers on the required level of quality, or solve their problems. Such an intensely tech-focused co-operation however can perfectly illustrate the opposite of these opinions.

"An operator in this team must not only answer an incoming message or phone call with perfect language skills, but they also need to know what they are talking about. They need to know the system, its infrastructure, how the charging points work, how everything works and why. For new team members, the training takes one full week, eight hours a day. It is tough, but they really need this time to get to know the systems, since we are also handling back-end systems, where you really need to know where you are clicking."

How Green is it?

Perhaps it is cliché, and there are many opinions stating otherwise, but EVs can be really considered as a step towards a society built on a cyclical, sustainable economic model. Nevertheless, the topic provokes a lot of questions of course. Is there any return on investment on EVs which still need considerable investment? How green is the energy used to create electricity?

One thing is sure, if mostly home-based customer service can help in most cases even from the other side of the continent, saving the costs of a larger local maintenance team and its support infrastructure, it certainly means a smaller ecological footprint for everyone.

„Of course, until the complete infrastructure is established, you need more planning, and you should always search for available charging points on your way, but today every provider has hundred thousands of points, and fortunately this number is continually growing. Naturally, if the charging point is not working on the highway, even though your charge is only enough for a few kilometers, that is a bummer, but here’s where the professional customer service comes into the picture, who can help you solve the problem.”

United Call Centers has other ways to protect the environment – check out our latest REbot challenge – where technology meets sustainability!

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