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Pandemic drives contact centre revolution

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Vishal Chopra, head of field marketing MEA at Freshworks.
Vishal Chopra, head of field marketing MEA at Freshworks.

The COVID-19 pandemic is catalysing dramatic change in contact centres across Africa, forcing them to move from outdated systems and embrace digital transformation, AI and chatbots.

Superhuman Customer Service - 16 October 2020

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This is according to Vishal Chopra Head of Marketing, India, ASEAN, Middle East and Africa at Freshworks, who was speaking ahead of a Freshworks webinar on Superhuman Customer Service to be held in South Africa this month.

Chopra says contact centres across South Africa and the rest of Africa have been talking about digital transformation for years, but many had been slow to move until the pandemic struck. Confronted with a need to deliver enhanced service amid the challenges of running remote workforces, contact centres are now keen to discover how advanced contact centre solutions can help them.

“The pandemic has been a revelation for organisations that delayed digital transformation, AI and chatbots in their contact centres. Until the lockdown, these were seen as luxuries, but now business leaders realise that delivering a true omnichannel experience is vital for customer experience,” he says.

Achieving this means transformation, eliminating silos and implementing AI-enabled chatbots.

“Companies across South Africa are now realising their mistake, with over 80% pledging to implement AI and chatbots to enable a more seamless customer experience and to support the agents and make them more productive.”

He notes that there are still certain misconceptions around AI and chatbots, however. These include fears that chatbots will replace humans; and that AI and chatbots are costly and complex to implement and run.

Nothing could be further from the truth, he says: “Chatbots support human agents, taking over the mundane and repetitive tasks and allowing the agents to focus on the more complex queries.” This not only improves customer experience, but also allows agents to enjoy a more varied and productive work day. In addition, chatbots can be deployed in selected areas in as little as one day, he says.

“Benefiting both the organisation and its customers, chatbots are available 24/7/365; to deliver first level support and answer low level queries,” says Chopra. “And should agents not be available due to time of day or because of power or network outages, chatbots remain up and running, answering basic queries and collecting complex questions to refer to the agents for resolution as soon as they are online again.”

He notes that chatbots are one component of a bigger picture, however: “For an organisation to deliver a truly seamless customer experience; it needs to be able to connect and integrate all channels and all departments – from sales and finance to marketing and support – in a unified platform. “Once you have this in place, chatbots provide the next level of help and sophistication to internal systems,” he says.

The Freshworks Superhuman Customer Service webinar, to be presented in partnership with ITWeb on 16 October, will address the issues surrounding AI implementation, the advantages of AI-first customer support, and how contact centres can use AI to cut costs and become infinitely scalable.

For more information and to register for this event, click here.

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