Zoho Desk Zoho’s customer service software has been around since November 2016. More recently, the platform has achieved 45% year-over-year revenue growth over the past five years and serves more than 100K businesses worldwide. The stellar results come from Zoho’s passion for continuously improving the platform and incorporating new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI).
Zoho’s customers are companies with 250-5000 employees and, specifically, those service organizations that require multilingual, omnichannel service experiences.
In this article, I’ll cover new capabilities announced by Zoho, including a new feature called Blended Chats, which seamlessly combines bot-powered self-service capabilities with human-driven chat service capabilities.
Zoho Desktop in context
Zoho Desk is a component of Zoho’s Customer Experience Management (CMX) platform, which includes sales force automation, marketing automation, help desk, analytics, visitor tracking, project management, and social media marketing.
Zoho Desk includes Zoho’s AI assistant, Zia, and offers native integration into Zoho applications, especially Zoho CRM.
What is a customer service chatbot?
A customer service chatbot uses AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms to understand the question and respond with the most appropriate answer. AI chatbots extract resources, such as FAQs or a knowledge database. Chatbots will recognize and answer multiple versions of the same question and provide answers using a selected voice and tone.
Another benefit of using chatbots is handling customer care during odd night hours.
The theory is that chatbots save support staff time by quickly resolving simple issues, freeing up time to tackle complex issues. When I decide I’m chatting with a bot instead of a person, I immediately look up the customer support phone number. Maybe my questions are never simple, but AI chatbots are no substitute for human interaction.
Can human agents and bot agents work together?
What I have described above could be classified as a bad customer experience, as my options were chatbot or waiting in a support line. We are not at a point where chatbots can completely replace human intervention in customer service processes.
The question today is, given this reality, can chatbots coexist with human agents to improve and transform the customer experience?
The solution is a coexistence model with chatbots working with human agents and increasing productivity. Chatbots can become the first line of agents in the existing customer service process and perform simple tasks such as answering common questions, providing relevant information, and collecting data related to customer concerns.
The chatbot can hand over the conversation to a live agent in an escalated or customer request. Chatbots should be intelligent enough to understand the context of the conversation and recommend that customers chat with a human agent.
How does the Merged Chat solution work?
Blended Chats, which combines Zoho’s Instant Messaging (IM) Framework and Guided Chats, balances human labor with bot-powered automation so customer service agents can deliver the best experience in the moment.
Customer service agents can delegate most of the manual and transactional tasks to chatbots while still being in control of the entire service experience. The IM Framework can integrate any messaging service with Zoho Desk and is pre-integrated with services like WhatsApp, Telegram, Line, WeChat, Messenger, and Instagram.
Zoho Guided Conversations (GC) is the “special sauce” behind Blended Conversations. GC is a low-code self-service platform to engage customers with relevant and intuitive responses by creating virtual agents to guide customers through the initial stages of inquiries. A GC will guide customers through a journey by asking relevant questions, providing answers, and steering the conversation in the right direction based on answers.
Blended Conversations happen by setting up pre-defined flows to FAQs that offer intelligent and intuitive solutions. Conversations are also contextualized through web polls and preloaded information so customers can engage with precise responses. Multiple languages are available for the response flows.
The genius of Zoho’s implementation is unique for two reasons. The first is that it is not a traditional chatbot implementation. The implementation allows human agents and chatbots to work together to help the customer, even in complex situations. For example, when a bot first assigns a case to a human agent, that person can understand the customer’s problem and delegate tasks to the bot to complete the job and report back to the human agent. The human agent is still in charge of the entire experience for the customers. The second reason is that Blended Chats are better suited for business users than developers. No IT skills required to set up and produce in a few hours.
A simpler, faster and more accessible user interface
In addition to Blended Conversations, Zoho also announced a complete redesign of the user interface to make it simpler, faster and more accessible to users with a wide range of different needs. The updates include options to support: cognitive challenges and dyslexia; visual impairments, including astigmatism; reduced animation for those with seizure disorders; Custom capabilities for color blindness.
What does Zoho Desk cost?
Zoho Desk Standard Edition costs $14/user/month, billed annually, and Enterprise Edition costs $40/user/month. A new pricing tier called the Express Edition, priced at $7/user/month (billed annually), is also available to help startups and small businesses adopt a customer service platform instead of spreadsheets and email.
My personal experiences aside, implementing customer service conversations will be key. Properly implemented chatbots can help organizations provide 7×24 customer support and provide customer care with fewer resources.
While I believe we cannot eliminate human touch from customer service, chatbots will reduce human intervention as much as possible.
Some customers seek help before or after visiting a website, while others prefer self-service. Customer service is about addressing the needs of both customer groups. Improving the self-service strategy can be a game changer. It can determine the quality of customer support and the overall customer experience.
Zoho recognized that a better customer service experience can be achieved by using chatbots to manage a larger number of customer needs and reserving only the complex issues for human agents.
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