With 17% of Calls Deflected, an AI Chatbot Steps in to Resolve Merchant Requests
As more merchants adopt electronic and contactless payments, they often need assistance either setting up their payment terminal or troubleshooting an issue with it.
Here’s the story of how a conversational AI bot helps resolve issues for merchants and how, when COVID hit, a call deflection solution could be quickly launched, giving merchants a digital self-service option and taking pressure off the contact center,
Compelling Results Achieved with an AI-Powered Digital Assistant
For our client, EVO Payments International GmbH, trading as BOI Payment Acceptance (BOIPA)*, supporting their merchant clients with a more convenient and self-service process for handling payment terminal issues, payment acceptance queries, and changes to their bank accounts, was a key priority. They felt this could be achieved by implementing digital assistant solutions powered by AI.
Working with ServisBOT, BOIPA/EVO has launched a digital assistant that handles different merchant requests in a more automated and seamless way. For example, when merchants use the bot to make bank account changes, they need to provide uploads of certain proof documents and an e-signature for approval. The AI bot was designed in such a way that the merchant cannot proceed to the next stage of the process unless they have provided these.
The results of this are so compelling. In the time period measured, all merchants that used the bot to make account changes attached proof of banking documentation in the first interaction, (meaning that the bot could validate what the merchant uploaded and advise them if it was the incorrect proof document). This compares with just 40% of those that used the email channel and, of those, just 20% of the attached documents were correct. As a result, emailed bank account change requests required at least twice as many interactions with customer service agents. Not only does the bot make it easier for customers but it reduces a lot of costly agent time in chasing down the correct proof docs.
“The bot creates a more seamless process for the customer. It restricts incoming information to precisely what is needed, resulting in less room for errors and greater efficiencies throughout the process.”
Jennifer Doyle, Head of Digital Platforms, at EVO (BOIPA)
This is a transformative use case for a digital assistant and is just one sample data point from their story which I outline in this blog. To delve in deeper you can also download the full troubleshooting chatbot case study.
Merchants’ Issues with Payment Terminals Generate Calls to BOIPA’s Contact Center
For retailers and merchants across many sectors, the ability to accept payments for their products and services is a key part of the customer relationship. Making payment acceptance simpler for customers and businesses is essential for both revenue and client satisfaction.
The installation and usage of the BOIPA payment terminals are sometimes difficult for small business owners and retailers. At its contact center in Dublin, BOIPA representatives often answer up to 8,000 calls each month. The average cost to handle each call is expected to be €1.75, with the agents frequently dealing with the same or similar inquiries from companies. During hectic times, big corporations who are also trying to service clients and run their operations may have to wait in line to seek assistance.
Head of Digital Platforms Jennifer Doyle makes a statement,
“”We noticed that many of the merchants phoning us had similar inquiries about setting up and using their payment terminals or altering the information for their bank accounts. In instance, if they are having trouble operating their terminal and are unable to accept payments from their clients, we don’t want them to have to wait to talk to someone. We were aware that merchant queries might be resolved more effectively.”
Enhancing Digital Self-service using an AI Chatbot
BOIPA wanted to provide a more convenient and self-service process for their merchants and they felt that a digital assistant would be key to achieving this.
“About 18 months ago we started looking at introducing digital assistants as part of our digital transformation plan. We wanted to improve the customer experience on our website, enhance self-service, and modernize the way that we present BOIPA to customers.”
In order to relieve strain on contact center operators and lower the cost to serve, BOIPA made the decision to create a Terminal Troubleshooter bot that would walk merchants through a simple, step-by-step procedure to swiftly address their problems and give extra after-hours help. When merchants click on the bot in the lower right corner of the webpage they are presented with a menu selection that includes Terminal Troubleshooting, Making Bank Account Changes, and FAQs that relate to the top common requests made by merchants.
“We sent ServisBOT some high-level data during the sales process, and within three days they put out a demo bot that impressed us. They demonstrated to us how they could provide us flexible chatbot solutions that would genuinely benefit our clients, demonstrating how they truly understood our business difficulties and what we were attempting to accomplish.”
The troubleshooting bot offers the merchant a selection of different terminal models and the type of connectivity used. They are then guided in a structured way through the steps they need to take to get their terminal working, offering them an option to speak with a human customer service representative if the bot cannot resolve their issues.
Bank account change functionality was also incorporated within the chatbot to assist with processing changes to merchants’ bank accounts. The bot integrates with BOIPA’s back-office systems, providing an interface for customers to upload electronic signatures and proof documents without the bot itself storing any sensitive data. Designing the bot to pass customer data through to BOIPA without retaining it was vital for meeting the organization’s strict security policies and industry rules and regulations around data handling.
“This demonstrates the flexibility of the platform, it allows us to transform customer engagement while still adhering to the rules and policies of our organisation.”
Adapting During COVID-19 with a Call Deflection Solution
As the Terminal Troubleshooter bot’s pilot was about to begin, COVID-19 struck, forcing many companies who employ BOIPA payment terminals to close their physical locations. BOIPA’s contact center experienced an overnight surge in merchant queries, which had climbed by almost 30%. When dealing with contact center agents who were working from home, they also had to swiftly adjust to the increasing traffic.
ServisBOT’s platform was linked with BOIPA’s IVR and live chat systems in a couple of days, and a call deflection solution was implemented. By giving callers the opportunity to switch to their SMS channel, where they may right away open a link to a FAQ bot that answers COVID-related and other frequent customer inquiries, this relieves strain on the contact center. There is an option to switch to live chat to communicate with a human agent for inquiries that the bot cannot answer or if the merchant so chooses.
WIth the ServisBOT platform, changes to a bot can be made quickly and easily. This is really important when a new digital assistant solution is launched and starts engaging with customers. Improvements, based on conversational history and feedback, are inevitable.
“The platform provided us with the freedom to make adjustments within 24 hours if necessary, so we were in no way limited. Many vendors made that claim, but ServisBOT actually enabled us to. It was wonderful to be able to make modifications and to work with a team that could deliver at the touch of a button.”
Combining Deflection with AI-powered Automation Brings Success and a Modern Customer Experience
A minimum of 10% of the traffic was diverted to the bot within three months of the call deflection solution’s deployment. Six months later the deflection rate stood at approximately 17% and 70% of those that clicked on the bot engaged with it.
Up to 10,000 calls per month, or roughly 30% more than usual, were being handled by the contact center during the beginning of the epidemic. This number had fallen to slightly over 6,300 calls in September, and by October it had fallen once more to 5,824 calls each month. Even in the face of a pandemic, the number of calls handled by agents in the six-month period from May to June 2020 was 34% lower than it was at the same time previous year. The introduction of the bot has reduced the pressure on contact center personnel.
“There’s no doubt that the bot makes things easier for the merchants. A similar inquiry can be handled by our contact center in five to ten minutes. Visually, it is much simpler for the merchants and follows our style of modern customer service.”
To learn more about the BOIPA/EVO chatbot journey, download a copy of the full case study
*Note: BOI Payment Acceptance (BOIPA/EVO) is a marketing alliance between Bank of Ireland and EVO Payments.