customer service representative takes a customer call while smiling

Customer service is expensive. On average, it costs about $1 per minute to service a customer that calls customer support. This cost increases if the call needs to be escalated to the next level of support – from Level 1 to Level 3 – because with each escalation more time is spent talking with the customer and may also involve a higher-paid service agent. To keep things simple, if we use the $1 per minute cost as the data point to calculate the cost for a company with 200,000 calls per year, and an average call length of 10 minutes, we would find that such a company would spend $2,000,000 per year on customer service calls alone.

This is a simple example and results will vary across industries, but call center cost reduction is something that every company with a call center wants to do. The question is how? A lot of companies use a customer service solution like Oracle Service Cloud (Oracle CX Service) that combines web, social, and contact center (phone) experiences. On the web side, customers can use Service Cloud to initiate service requests through a chat interface. This enables them to get straight to their question instead of having to go through prompts or make selections on a phone, which saves time and ultimately money. However, what about common or routine questions that live agents must answer repeatedly, such as order status or return policies? These common or routine questions typically make up a large portion of overall requests, and while simple to resolve, they cost the same to service. What can companies do to reduce the volume of these requests being serviced by live agents?

In Office Depot’s case, they turned to the Oracle Digital Assistant (ODA) integrated with Oracle Service Cloud. Office Depot has deployed ODA on their website to provide a simple channel and conversational chat interface to check on order statuses, ask policy-related questions such as returning a purchase, and even cancel orders. When human intervention is necessary, ODA can hand off the conversation to an Oracle Service Cloud live agent and pass along the entire chat script. This ensures the live agent does not have to ask as many questions to understand what the customer is trying to resolve, leading to additional time reduction. Office Depot’s goal was to contain common or routine questions with ODA, and so far they’ve been able to contain 20% of their service interactions resulting in significant cost savings.

To hear more about how Office Depot has automated their customer service operations with ODA integrated with Oracle Service Cloud, watch this 12-minute webinar given by Serdar Canbek, Office Depot’s Senior Manager of Operations Reporting & Analytics.