A combination of factors – collapsing oil prices, adverse impact of coronavirus on the regional economies and an unfolding global financial crisis – has precipitated a meltdown, pushing the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries to the brink of a recession in 2020.
Governments, state-owned entities, banks, financial services, trade and retail, tourism and hospitality, and literally every sector of the economy is bearing the brunt of reduced demand and constricted supply.
Faced with an onerous task, the banks and governments of the region are looking at innovative ways to boost customer spending, which has been badly hit due to lockdowns, income losses and public health concerns.
A highly fulfilling customer experience covering all digital touchpoints is a critical factor in reviving the public sentiment, in addition to the bevy of policy interventions that governments and central banks are mulling.
One thing the pandemic has exposed is the limits of traditional IVR and mobile/phone commerce. Retail customers, struggling to complete online transactions and understand fresh policy implications, are reaching out to contact centers to negotiate delays, deferments in loan and payments as well as information on stimulus packages.
Call centers, in turn, are brimming with increased call volume, increased call complexity, high stress of both employees and customers and a huge shift to work-at-home representatives.
A recent cross-industry study done by HBR research has found customer service as the hardest-hit function due to COVID-19. Their analysis of one million calls has shown a massive uptick in poor service quality with some companies experiencing “hold times balloon by as much as 34 percent and escalations skyrocket more than 68 percent.”
Leading system integrator Raqmiyat and globally acclaimed conversational AI and digital UX technology platform provider Kore.ai have met this challenge head-on by offering new solutions and skills to help organisations effectively manage their operations and customer services in the wake of COVID-19.
Rapidly developed to scale, these market-ready solutions can be quickly adopted by Raqmiyat-Kore.ai’s partners and customers.
Kore.ai has designed a new service called Deflect.ai, which is a cloud-based, AI-powered digital assistant to manage call deflections. The assistant, which can be setup in a day, receives voice calls from IVR systems and fulfills them using a combination of automated conversations and digital forms over voice/chat-based channels. This is a major boost for traditional and digital banks as the call wait time is a critical factor in overall customer experience.
Deflect.ai is open, extensible and completely customisable, and can be applied across all industries. Being IVR system agnostic, it works with the existing chat agent software, handling end-to-end call transactions and offers enterprise-grade security.
To address the unmet needs of retail and small business banking customers, Raqmiyat-Kore.ai have also developed a ‘COVID-19 Customer Service Assistant’ that targets call center volumes and back office processing times. The assistant is quick to setup and lives in a bank’s digital ecosystem. It contains an in-depth FAQ related to products and services impacted by COVID-19 and more importantly allows banking customers to apply for deferrals and loans.
Both these solutions run on Kore.ai’s all-in-one lowcode/nocode, Conversational AI and Digital UX Virtual Assistant Platform. Combining technologies such as natural language processing, machine learning, mobile and web UX and AI, Kore.ai’s platform allows global enterprises to quickly build and deploy intelligent virtual assistants for their customers and workforce.
While an early respite from the pandemic is everyone’s hope, the need for continued innovation will become overwhelming as businesses shift to a new model of engaging customer and employees. The likely long-term effect of COVID-19 could be a fundamental rethinking of customer service with a combination of call centers and digital experience becoming the norm.