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 for the past five years and serves more than 100K businesses globally. The stellar results come from Zoho’s passion for continually enhancing the platform and incorporating new technologies such as 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 will cover new capabilities announced by Zoho, including a new feature called Blended Conversations, which seamlessly combines the capabilities of bot-powered self-service and human-driven conversational service capabilities.
Zoho Desk 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.
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 draw from resources, such as FAQs or a knowledge database. Chatbots will recognize and answer multiple versions of the same question and give responses using a preferred voice and tone.
Another benefit of using chatbots is handling customer care at odd night hours.
The theory is that chatbots save the support team time by quickly resolving simple questions, freeing time to tackle complex queries. Once I determine I am chatting with a bot rather than a human, I immediately look for the customer support phone number. Perhaps my questions are never straightforward, but AI chatbots are not a replacement for human interaction.
Can human agents and bot agents work in tandem?
What I have described above could be classified as a poor customer experience, as my options were a chatbot or waiting in a support line. We are not at a point where chatbots can entirely 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 augmenting productivity. Chatbots can be the first line of agents in the existing customer service process and carry out simple preliminary tasks such as answering common questions, providing relevant information, and collecting details related to customer concerns.
The chatbot can hand the conversation to a live agent in an escalation or customer request. Chatbots should also be intelligent enough to understand the conversation's context and suggest that customers chat with a human agent.
How do the Blended Conversations solution work?
Blended Conversations, which combines Zoho's Instant Messaging (IM) Framework and Guided Conversations, balances human labor with bot-powered automation so that customer service agents can deliver the best experience at the moment.
Customer service agents can delegate most manual and transactional tasks to chatbots while remaining in control of the overall service experience. The IM Framework can integrate any messaging service with Zoho Desk and comes 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 appropriate and intuitive responses by creating virtual agents to guide customers through the initial stages of inquiries. GC will lead customers through a journey by asking relevant questions, providing answers, and steering the conversation in the right direction based on responses.
Blended Conversations occur by setting up predefined flows to FAQs that offer intelligent and intuitive resolutions. The conversations are also contextually driven through webhooks and preloaded information so customers can drill down to precise answers. 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 in tandem to help the customer, even in complex situations. For example, when a bot initially 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 remains in charge of the overall experience for the customers. The second reason is that Blended Conversations are well suited for business users rather than developers. No IT skills are required with setup and production in a few hours.
A more straightforward, faster, and more accessible user interface
In addition to Blended Conversations, Zoho also announced a complete redo of the user interface to make it simpler, faster, and more accessible to users with a broad spectrum of different needs. Updates include options to support: cognitive and dyslexia challenges; visual impairments, including astigmatism; animation reduction for those with seizure disorders; customization capabilities for color blindness.
What does Zoho Desk cost?
Zoho Desk Standard Edition costs $14/user/month, billed annually, and $40/user/month for the Enterprise Edition. 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 chatbots will become imperative. Correctly implemented chatbots can help organizations provide 7x24 support to customers and provide customer care with fewer resources.
Although I believe we cannot eliminate the human touch from customer service, chatbots will reduce human intervention as much as possible.
Some customers seek assistance before or after visiting a website, and others prefer self-service. Customer service is about addressing the needs of both groups of customers. Improving the self-service strategy can be a game changer. It can determine the quality of customer support and overall customer experience.
Zoho has recognized that a superior customer service experience is possible by using chatbots to manage more volume of customer needs while reserving only the complicated issues for human agents.