As we all know, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing significant business challenges for the customer and employee experience, with contact centers and help desks being overloaded with questions and requests. Over these past weeks, more and more companies have started turning to automation as the first line of defense against overloaded support centers. Sophisticated chatbots and virtual assistants can automate up to 70% of customer support use cases without human intervention, thereby speeding up resolution for consumers and focusing the work of human agents on more complex issues. And SmarTek21 is here to help companies during these challenging times.
Free COVID-19 HR Chatbot Now Available
Even weeks into the pandemic, employees and companies continue to struggle with navigating the latest guidance about symptoms, tests, and social distancing protocols. Moreover, as some states begin exploring how to “re-open”, employees are fielding a call volume to their HR services desks that they are not well equipped to handle, causing delays and sometimes incomplete information. In order to help everyone stay up to date while at the same time reducing pressure on understaffed support desks, SmarTek21 has developed a COVID-19 HR bot.
You can explore the COVID-19 Assistant near the bottom of this page.
Based on content from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC), it can answer the most common questions about the virus, effectively communicate a company’s policy, give employees an automated channel to notify the company about any health changes, as well as provide an escalation path to human agents. It is also easily extensible so that organizations can customize the chatbot with company-specific policies and guidance. The COVID-19 Assistant is available at no charge to any organization that wishes to deploy it.
The free COVID-19 Assistant is part of a wider SmarTek21 program to help companies leverage chatbots and virtual assistants so that they can better address the challenging business environment we all find ourselves in. Perhaps the most exciting part of this program is that SmarTek21 is waiving its license fee for SmartBotHub, it’s industry-leading conversational AI platform through May 1, 2021. This license fee waiver program is available to all COVID-affected businesses who are interested in deploying chatbots and virtual assistants to help them better and more scalably engage with their customers and constituents, both internal and external. By opening up our platform for free, we hope we can play a small part in helping companies deal with this crisis. Everyone at SmarTek21 is committed to supporting you in whatever way possible.
Conversational AI solutions have been a natural choice for disseminating health information and help businesses remain agile by increasing service availability during the coronavirus pandemic and will play a critical role in transforming customer experience, empowering employees, and enriching business insights.
The Role of AI
We think AI technology can play an important role in addressing some of our current challenges. We founded the company on the belief that advanced AI should be democratized and easy to use by everyone, not just AI scientists and developers.
Businesses are now be facing two crises: unpredictable spikes in demand for services, and the need to prepare for a potential economic recession. Conversational artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligent automation (IA) can help businesses remain agile by increasing service availability, backfilling for absent employees, and reducing costs and business risk.
Extending Service Availability
State and local governments, schools, non-profits, and businesses must be ready to support increased call volume and demand for services. Virtual agents, powered by conversational AI and IA, can help by:
- Providing automated answers to common questions
- Sending outbound notifications about things like school closures, changes in hours of service, or travel restrictions
- Enabling customers to report problems and ask for help
- Scaling on-demand to meet unexpected spikes in service – giving customers access to answers and self-service when a live agent isn’t available
- Scheduling store pickup — as consumers exercise social distancing, they may be increasingly looking for solutions that allow them to spend less time shopping in stores
Supporting Your Workforce
The current crisis will likely cause some staff members to call in sick, ask for shift adjustments, or transition to remote work. Virtual agents can help you manage these changes in the following ways:
- Shift-finder services – employees can call an automated sick line that triggers a virtual agent to make outbound calls or texts until it finds someone else who can fill in and notifies management of the change
- Support work-at-home agents – virtual agents can seamlessly transfer automated self-service calls to live agents as necessary. It doesn’t matter if the live agent is working in a call center, a brick-and-mortar store, or from home, the virtual agent can transfer the call with a screen pop that includes a transcript of the initial conversation.
- Virtual agents can automate IT helpdesk tasks to assist employees as they set up their home workstations. They can also help with HR-related tasks, such as or FAQs about benefits or outbound notifications regarding schedule changes.
Reducing Costs and Shifting Expenses
With an economic slowdown upon us, businesses will need to deliver quality customer care while also reducing operating costs. Virtual agents can help companies reduce the cost of handling routine inquiries (they typically cost around 10% of the average live agent’s salary, benefits and training, according to our experience) and enable businesses to redeploy valuable individuals to handle more complicated service requests or focus on revenue-generating activities.
Cloud-based virtual agent platforms can help businesses lower development costs, improve productivity, and innovate quickly.
The current crisis will have a profound impact on many businesses. But cloud-based communications, collaboration, and service can help soften the blow. From free online meetings to work-from-home contact center solutions to advanced self-service offerings, businesses have a variety of options for maintaining service, supporting employees, and managing risk during these trying times.