Hiring Customer Service Agents is Harder than Ever

Written by Emily Cummins  on   Sep 15, 2021

Why companies need AI today. 

“Call centers have never been more important — or more strapped1.” 

Imagine having a 100-year old parent who has a panic button for emergency situations. When you try it out, it takes an agent five minutes to call to check in. Why the delay in what could have been a life-or-death situation? A shortage of agents. A problem brought about by the pandemic2

This medical alert company is not alone. Companies around the world are facing a customer service staffing shortage, finding it harder than ever to attract and retain agents. All of this comes at a time when customers have higher expectations, and support ticket volume and costs are skyrocketing: 40% of businesses are experiencing a rising cost of worker wages3

In this environment, companies need to look to tools like AI to automate and augment the work of customer service agents, or risk damaging their customer experience.  

Ticket volume is on the rise when there’s fewer agents 

Across industries, ticket volume is spiking as a result of changing customer behavior. Some companies have seen unprecedented demand – like grocery and food delivery, retail/eCommerce, e-learning, streaming, etc. With more customers, comes more support tickets. Other industries like travel have seen demand fluctuate, but as customers start to return to normal behavior, they too are reaching out to companies at unprecedented levels to understand evolving policies, safety measures, etc. 

This spike in demand and surge in tickets has come at a time when there are about 25% fewer call center agents answering phones than before the pandemic in the United States4

“Overseas, in call-center-heavy countries such as India and the Philippines, entire facilities were shut down because of COVID-19 risk4.” And according to one estimate, “tens of thousands of employees were unable to work from home, lacking essentials like laptops, high-speed internet, and a secure way to access sensitive customer data1.”

Some of these overseas call centers have since reopened, but many have not4

As a result of less agents and more tickets, support teams are struggling to keep up. In one example, after a record-breaking number of calls and hours-long wait times, Delta CEO Ed Bastian went as far as inviting customers to email him directly. “We’re doing everything we can,” he said5


Check out The Ultimate Guide to Delivering Exceptional Customer Support in 2022.


Hiring? Good luck. The talent pool for agents just isn’t there anymore. 

We’re seeing it across the board: there are jobs open but not enough people to fill them. In the United States, the overall labor force is 3.5 million people smaller6 than pre-pandemic as workers have exited the labor force7.

“The labor crunch is widespread, affecting many industries that dimmed their lights during the pandemic and are now scrambling to turn them back on,” reports TIME. “The current hiring crunch is very much rooted in the pandemic, stemming from economic shutdowns, industry-specific restrictions and major shifts in consumer spending patterns last year8.”

The companies rushing to hire are in a job seekers market.  As of the end of July, there were a total of 10.9 million job openings in the United States9. At the time of this post, 1.7 million customer service jobs were open on LinkedIn10. Delta alone is trying to hire at least 5,000 agents5

It’s clear from these numbers that securing talent is harder than ever, especially in the United States where many say pandemic unemployment benefits are keeping people home and not reentering the workforce. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says “one in four recipients taking home more in unemployment than they earned working11.” In Pennsylvania, for example, the extra $300 per week from the federal government on top of the state benefit raises a minimum wage earner’s weekly pay by more than 50%12”.

“What we’re seeing is companies post job openings in record numbers, but applicant activity is at record lows,” according to Steve Lucas, the chief executives of iCIMS, a recruiting software company. Since the beginning of 2021, job openings on iCIMS have increased by 35%, while job applications are down by 20%7


On average, employers have been receiving 3.5 fewer applications per job opening7.


The perils of the customer service agent job and the impact on agent attrition 

Even if companies are able to fill their open positions, other challenges remain. The industry has one of the highest attrition rates of any industry with turnover rates between 30-40%. This is due to a few key factors: agents report feeling stressed having to deal with increasingly frustrated customers who are harder to please; they have to access many complex systems concurrently to resolve tickets; and are under pressure to resolve more tickets faster. 

An article in the Los Angeles Times has referred to customer service agents as human “punching bags.” While the article focuses on the airline industry, it can be argued that agents across industries bear the brunt of upset customers – whether it’s a missing ingredient in a meal-kit, a lost bag, or lost package. According to the publication, “Agents are subjected to verbal abuse almost daily. It’s a thankless job requiring patience and thick skin.13” 

And this only intensified during the pandemic. “What people don’t realize about contact centers is that they are the free psychological counseling centers in times of crisis,” says Donna Fluss, president of the contact center market research firm DMG Consulting LLC. “Often people call up and they dump their fears and their concerns1.”

All of these factors cause agents to leave their jobs at record numbers, resulting in extraordinary costs –  $13 billion annually in the US – to hire, train and onboard new agents. How is it so expensive? It’s estimated that it costs 30% of an employee’s salary to hire a replacement. If an average agent salary in the United States is $50,000, replacement costs $15,00014

The impact of attrition, though, is more than just financial: customers experience lapses in consistency and longer resolution times. 

How AI can protect customers, agents and businesses 

As a way to combat staffing shortages and rising costs, scale up and down to manage ticket spikes, and provide a good customer experience, companies are leveraging customer service AI. 

AI can help support teams in a few key ways: 

  • Automate resolutions to the repetitive, everyday queries 
  • Gather information from back-end systems and customers before passing a ticket on to an agent 
  • Drafting responses for agents to quickly edit, review and send 
  • Intelligently summarize and route tickets to the right agent based on expertise, availability and stress 

Working alongside AI-powered agents, human agents are able to focus on higher-level tasks which results in higher job satisfaction. Additionally, with AI handling the mundane work, agents are able to have upward mobility in their roles, taking on more creative and managerial work. It also allows companies to prepare for spikes in volume, whether expected or not, and keep customers satisfied and resolution times down. 

Companies using chatbots for customer service, like WestJet, enjoyed the benefits of having AI in place during the early days of the pandemic. When the Canadian airline saw a 45-fold increase in ticket volume, its Netomi-powered AI agent was able to deflect tens of thousands of calls from human agents.

The future of customer service is human + AI

It’s harder than ever to staff a customer support team while meeting the rising demands of customers for immediate, personal and convenient support. The teams that will thrive in today’s environment are the ones that use a combination of human and artificial intelligence. AI needs to assist and augment the work of human agents, enabling them to focus on the work that requires a uniquely human touch. Eliminating mundane work also leads to a better experience for employees, and can help significantly reduce attrition and the costs associated with hiring.  

Can we discuss how you can use AI within your customer service workforce to enhance the customer and agent experience? Get in touch

References 

  1. https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2020/5/13/21243420/call-centers-on-hold-customer-service-unemployment-airline-cable
  2. https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2021-08-03/column-coronavirus-customer-service 
  3. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/08/10/the-labor-shortage-isnt-main-streets-biggest-problem.html 
  4. https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-11-10/column-coronavirus-high-call-volume 
  5. https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/airline-news/2021/07/14/delta-customer-service-wait-times-hold-times-wont-ease-until-september/7960074002/
  6. https://fred.stlouisfed.org/series/CLF16OV
  7. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/22/business/dealbook/labor-shortage-causes.html 
  8. https://time.com/6076710/restaurants-labor-shortage/ 
  9. https://www.bls.gov/jlt/ 
  10. https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/customer-service-jobs/ 
  11. https://www.uschamber.com/press-release/us-chamber-calls-ending-300-weekly-supplemental-unemployment-benefits-address-labor 
  12. https://stevenrattner.com/2021/05/steve-rattners-morning-joe-charts-a-labor-market-in-need-of-labor/ 
  13. https://www.latimes.com/travel/story/2019-11-14/airline-customer-service-agents-mistreated-angry-passengers 
  14. https://www.benefitspro.com/2021/04/28/keep-your-customer-service-agents-happy-4-ways-to-reduce-turnover/ 
  15. https://apnews.com/article/health-coronavirus-pandemic-business-bb295afe6ec8d8b88b1b944f3eba7931 

17 Customer Satisfaction Survey Questions and Templates

Written by Can Ozdoruk  on   Sep 4, 2021

In this post, we’re covering everything you need to know about customer satisfaction (CSAT) surveys, including: 

  • Customer satisfaction surveys defined 
  • Are these surveys still relevant? 
  • Types of surveys  
  • Customer satisfaction survey templates and examples

For your business to survive and thrive, measuring customer satisfaction is key. You need to take frequent pulses on how your customers feel about your brand, products, services and interactions to identify pain points and benchmark your performance over time. Customer satisfaction surveys are an incredible tool that marketing, support and product teams can leverage to understand how well they perform in their customers’ eyes. 

Let’s dive in. 

What is a Customer Satisfaction Survey?

Customer satisfaction surveys are questionnaires that measure customer sentiment towards a product, service or a specific micro-level interaction like a customer service interaction or online shopping event. CSAT surveys can be time-based (i.e., sent one day after purchase or three months post-purchase) or event-based (i.e., at the end of a free trial or onboarding process). 

Are these types of surveys still relevant?

To grow your business, you need to know how you’re performing against expectations and uncover customer pain points and points of friction. CSAT surveys provide incredible insights into how a customer perceives your brand and products and can indicate future loyalty and spend.

CSAT surveys are the most direct way to understand if you’re meeting customer expectations. Today’s customer journey is complicated and loyalty is fragile. One poor experience can be enough to drive even your most loyal customers away. 

These surveys enable brands to flag where things go wrong in the customer journey. They allow you to improve your product, services and operations to retain customers.  

Without leveraging CSAT surveys, you’re operating in the dark. Getting feedback directly from the customers you need to impress and asking them directly for things that can be improved is essential to be a company that competes on customer experience (CX). 

The benefits don’t stop there, though. Surveys like this also make customers feel appreciated and listened to. It can also help you identify champions who could be asked (or incentivized) to post reviews or refer friends. 

To download a copy of our 2021 Customer Service Benchmark report, visit here.

Types of customer satisfaction survey questions

Generally, CSAT surveys include between 6-8 questions. There are a few common types of survey questions, including closed-ended questions, which see a person select a response from predefined answers, and open-ended questions, which see a person respond in their own words. 

There are benefits to both types of questions. Closed-ended questions provide clean data that can be used for rich analysis and benchmarking. Open-ended questions provide qualitative data, reveal new insights and alert an organization to problems or opportunities they had not yet thought of.

In your surveys, it’s important to mix question types to encourage participation and minimize perceived effort. 

Here are the different types of questions you can use in your surveys: 

  • Rating scale (or ordinal) questions: Rating scale questions ask the customer how they feel about a product, service or interaction by rating it on a numbered scale (i.e., 1-5). If you use a rating scale question, add context to the numbers (i.e., 1 is poor and 5 is excellent). Here’s an example of a rating scale question:
  • Binary questions: Binary questions limit responses to two inputs, such as yes/no or thumbs up / thumbs down. Binary questions can eliminate any ambiguity present in scale questions as everyone can perceive things slightly differently. One person’s 5 response could be another person’s 4. Here’s an example of a binary survey question:
  • Likert scale questions: These questions are also on a scale but measure extreme views on a 5 to 7-point scale. The medium point represents neutrality, with the lowest number (1) representing one extreme and the highest number (5) representing the other extreme. Here’s an example of a Likert scale question:
  • Nominal questions: When there are limited available responses, nominal questions work well. These are multiple-choice questions in which the user selects one option from a predefined set of answers. Unless there is an “All of the Above” option, answers don’t overlap. Here’s an example of a nominal survey question:
  • Open-ended questions: These questions allow a person to write feedback in their own words. While the insights that can be gleaned from open-ended questions are incredible, customers perceive them as requiring more effort. Limit open-ended questions to one or two in your survey. Here’s an example of an open-ended survey question:

Here are the top 17 customer satisfaction survey templates and examples for 2021

These surveys can measure feedback on customer service interactions, product and services, brand experience, as well as customer effort (CES) and net performer score (NPS).  

Customer Service Questions 

  1. Overall, how satisfied were you with your interaction today?  
    • Very Dissatisfied 
    • Dissatisfied 
    • Neutral 
    • Satisfied
    • Very Satisfied
  2. Did we fully resolve your issue? 
    • Yes 
    • No 
  3. On a scale of 1-5, did we make you feel heard and appreciated?
    • 1 – Not at all  
    • 2 – Somewhat 
    •  3 – Neutral 
    •  4 – Yes 
    • 5 – Absolutely, Yes
  4. How did you feel today during our interaction? Select all that apply.
    • Listened to  
    • Appreciated 
    •  Frustrated 
    •  Annoyed 
    • Other ____ 
  5. How easy was it to get your issue resolved today? (Customer Effort Score question)
    • 😡 – Extremely Difficult     
    • 🙁 – Difficult     
    • 😐 – Average      
    • 🙂 – Easy      
    • 🤩 – Very Easy
  6. Which of the following would you describe the support you received today? Select all that apply.
    • Fast
    • Personal 
    • Empathetic
    • Convenient 
    • Effortless 
    • Incomplete
    • Difficult 
    • Other_____

Product Questions 

  1. Is this the first time you’ve used our product/service? 
    • Yes 
    • No 
  2. How well does our product meet your needs? 
    • 1- It does not meet my needs in any way 
    • 2- It meets my needs, but not in every way I expect
    • 3 – Neutral 
    • 4 – It meets my needs 
    • 5 – It exceeds my expectations
  3. How has your experience been with [product/service]?
    • Very Unenjoyable 
    • Unenjoyable 
    • Neutral 
    • Enjoyable
    • Very Enjoyable 
  4. What made you ultimately choose this [product/service] over others?
  5. Is there anything that you would change about our product/service?
  6. Which features are the most valuable?
  7. How satisfied are you with the quality of our product? 
    • Very Dissatisfied 
    • Dissatisfied 
    • Neutral 
    • Satisfied
    • Very Satisfied

Experience Questions 

  1. How would you rate the onboarding process?
    • 😡 – Extremely Difficult     
    • 🙁 – Difficult     
    • 😐 – Average      
    • 🙂 – Easy      
    • 🤩 – Very Easy
  2. What could we have improved with our online shopping experience?
  3. What could we have done differently?

NPS Questions 

  1. How likely are you to recommend this [product/service] to your friends and colleagues? 

                Very Unlikely [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] Very Likely  

Best Practices for Customer Satisfaction Surveys 

When you’re developing CSAT surveys, there are a few best practices to keep in mind. 

  • Be very clear in your messaging: Keep questions concise. Remove ambiguity and avoid using jargon. 
  • Use a mix of open-ended and closed-ended questions: Start your survey with a low-effort, closed-ended question that will more likely entice the person and get them engaged. 
  • Incorporate open-ended options into closed-ended questions: You don’t want an engaged customer to stop taking the survey because they don’t see a relevant answer in a nominal question. You can get around this by adding an “Other” option with a text box for a person to explain in more detail. You can also follow up on scale questions with a prompt to go into more detail. For instance, after asking: “On a scale of 1-5, how satisfied are you with your experience today?” you can follow up with people who ranked on the low end a follow-up question: “What could we have done better?”
  • Understand your goals for the survey: Are you benchmarking your customer experience over time? Are you looking for specific ways to enhance your product or service? Design your survey to give you the data that will be most beneficial for your team.  
  • A/B Test: You’re probably not going to launch the most effective survey at the first shot. A/B test your messaging, timing of when a survey is sent, and delivery method in order to get the most customers engaged.  

Final thoughts: Why every CX leader should consider using CS surveys 

CS surveys provide invaluable feedback on how your customers perceive your products, services, support and brand. Triggering CSAT surveys at key points along the customer journey is essential for companies to compete and grow their business today. Loyalty is tied closer than ever to CX. Without leveraging CSAT surveys, you will be operating in a vacuum, unaware of friction and pain points that can be detrimental to your business. These surveys enable gathering feedback from your customer base–these will improve levels of satisfaction, customer retention, and create more satisfied customers.

To learn more about improving the customer experience, visit:

Introducing the new Netomi Chat Widget

Written by Mani Makkar  on   Sep 3, 2021

Nearly 70% of consumers expect live chat support and it’s currently the preferred channel for consumers between 18-49 years old1. Over the last few years, live chat has emerged as a must have customer communication channel for sales and support. 

To help companies meet customers on their preferred channels, we’ve launched a new, highly customizable chat widget which can be easily deployed. The Netomi chat widget allows companies to use Netomi’s powerful chatbots for customer service to provide immediate resolutions to over 80% of routine questions in seconds. This immediate support increases customer satisfaction, decreases resolution time and deflects tickets from more costly channels. 


Discover the key questions to ask when scheduling a chatbot demo.


Live Chat Statistics: Why offering live chat is critical

Live chat as we know it today emerged in 1998 as an alternative to phone and email support2. The benefits of live chat are vast: convenient, immediate, synchronous support. It eliminates hold times associated with phone support, and responses from email tickets. 

Just how popular is live chat today? Consider these live chat statistics:

  • Live chat is what people expect and meets the expectations of customers
    • More than 41% of customers expect a live chat window on your website3
    • 51% of customers want businesses to be available 24/74 
    • More than half of all customers prefer to chat with someone in real-time and online, rather than call a company for support5
    • 79% of customers say they prefer to chat with agents purely because of the immediacy it offers compared to other channels6 
  • Live chat is what the kids are doing
    • 63% of millennials prefer to have their basic customer support queries answered via a live chat widget vs. traditional channels7 
    • 61% of customers under 24 admit that they purposely avoid calling companies, and 60% of millennials prefer live chat to traditional media8
  • Live chat can drive repeat business and unlock revenue 
    • There is a 10% increase in the average order value from customers who engage in a chat before making a purchase, than those who do not use chat5  
    • 63% of customers agree that they are more likely to return to a site if they have the possibility of talking to a representative via live chat9
    • 79% of companies report that the presence of live chat has positively impacted their sales, revenues, and customer relations1 
    • Companies that use live chat see there was a 3.84% increase in conversion rates, with a 6% overall lift in revenue5 
  • Your competitors are using live chat 
    • By 2022, about 85% of businesses are expected to opt for live chat support1
    • Live chat is expected to continue to grow by as much as 87% in the next 12-18 months5  

Learn more about companies using chatbots for customer service.


The benefits of Netomi’s chat widget 

The newly launched Netomi chat widget offers companies many benefits, including: 

  • Full customization: The chat widget can be customized to align with brand personality, and look and feel. The color, brand icon, logo, and more can be easily changed within Netomi’s AI Studio. 
  • Seamless UX: The widget features quick replies, buttons, carousels and supports images and video to provide a highly immersive user experience. You can also allow users to make a reservation, book an appointment, and more using embeddable experiences. 
  • Highly accurate AI: Netomi’s chat widgets feature Netomi-powered virtual AI agents. The Netomi AI platform leverages a combination of natural language understanding and deep reinforcement to provide a very human-like experience and fully resolve tickets. 
  • The best knowledge base tool integration: You can connect your existing knowledge base to the chat widget and enable your AI chatbot to surface relevant articles to answer customers’ questions.
  • Information collection: Embed custom interactive experiences such as forms and date pickers, and empower your customers to upload files that can easily be reviewed by your agents. 
  • Ticket creation in agent desk platforms: If a conversation needs to be escalated to a human agent, Netomi will create a ticket within your agent desk and include a chat transcript with contextual details.

Not all support live chat is created equally 

Chat is only becoming a more important channel for support teams. No longer a nice-to-have, live chat support is a key way to provide immediate, personal, and convenient support to customers 24/7. It’s important to not rely solely on human agents for live chat, though. One study found that 1 in 5 customers are willing to stop using a product or service for slow response times via online chat5. What’s considered slow? If a chat isn’t answered in two minutes, consumers will abandon the conversation altogether. Leveraging AI-powered agents on chat can automatically resolve every day, repeatable tickets and ensure human agents at a virtual contact center use their time wisely: on more complex needs. 

Not all chatbots, though, are the same. [See chatbot fails here]. When launching a chatbot, make sure you are using one that relies on sophisticated natural language understanding, not keyword matching, so you can empower your customers to engage naturally in conversation as if it were a human. The result? Happier and more loyal customers, reduced costs, and streamlined operations. 

Would you like to learn more about the Netomi Chat Widget and powerful AI chatbot technology? Schedule a demo. 

For more information, check out: Connect in Real-Time, Through Messaging Apps or Online: The 9 Best Live Chat Software

References

  1. https://99firms.com/blog/live-chat-statistics/#gref
  2. https://blog.olark.com/the-history-of-customer-service
  3. https://go.forrester.com/blogs/13-01-14-forresters_top_15_trends_for_customer_service_in_2013/
  4. https://www.superoffice.com/blog/live-chat-statistics/
  5. https://econsultancy.com/consumers-prefer-live-chat-for-customer-service-stats/
  6. https://www.icmi.com/resources/2015/the-stats-behind-chat-its-popular-and-growing
  7. https://www.whoson.com/ebooks/little-black-book-live-chat-stats/
  8. https://www.emarketer.com/Article/How-Helpful-Live-Chat/1007235

Game Day: How AI Can Help Sports Betting Companies Win The Customer Loyalty Championship

Written by  on   Sep 1, 2021

Online sports gambling is a booming business. But as upstarts break into the market to try and steal market share from more established players, it’s not the platform or user interface that’s going to determine who is the winner in this multi-billion dollar market. It’s the customer experience. Can AI help sports betting companies take home the biggest payout – loyalty? 

The rise of a burgeoning industry 

The online and mobile sports betting industry is having a moment, with interest propelled globally by the Pandemic, increased digitalization and more secure digital payments1. It’s an industry expected to reach $127.3 billion globally by 2027. 

A lot of this growth is coming from the U.S., following the legalization across many states after the 2018 Supreme Court Decision. In the country, sports betting is projected to become a $40 billion industry in the next decade2 – up from today’s $19 billion a year3. Already, close to 50% of adults in the US made a sports bet at least once in their life, and this is only expected to rise4.

Especially during blockbuster moments which open the door for sportsbooks to turn short-term and game-specific betting into long-term engagement. During the 2021 Super Bowl, 23.2 million Americans bet $4.3 billion on the game5. Is 23.2 million people a lot? If every person in New York City, LA, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia bet on the game, we would be still short by 4.5million. For March Madness, 47 Million Americans were expected to wager. But the opportunity is not always seized6.

The industry’s gut-wrenching fumble during the biggest sporting event of the year. 

It’s Super Bowl Sunday. One of the biggest – if not the biggest – sporting events of the year in the US. After becoming legalized in more than two dozen states7, it’s a massive opportunity for sports betting. Millions have been funneled into paid media to entice fans to wager. For sportsbooks, Super Bowl Sunday is the opportunity to capture the imagination of new fans and reap the benefits of an engaged and hyped-up audience. The increase in demand during the Super Bowl was dramatic: online sports betting volumes in the US jumped 254% year-over-year8. On game day, FanDuel was the third most downloaded app in the App Store, beat only by TikTok and Robinhood.

All eyes are on these sportsbooks. And the platforms crash. Not just one, but many of the most popular sports betting platforms – including Barstool Sports, BetMGM, DraftKings, FanDuel, and BetRivers – suffered crippling technical issues that prevented people from placing or settling bets9. Some more severe than others. 

The companies blamed “unprecedented demand.” In a statement, DraftKings said: “We’re aware customers were unable to access our mobile and online Sportsbook. It appears this outage was caused by a surge in traffic that caused problems for our backend provider.” While FanDuel said: “Due to unprecedented demand during the game, FanDuel customers in Michigan and Illinois did experience intermittent outages while other markets saw latency in accessing our Sportsbook mobile app.

While companies were responsive, the backlash from fans was fierce. 

“How is it that I’m seeing fanduel commercials on my television almost rubbing it in that I can’t even place a bet on your app that crashes any time there’s a reasonably large sporting event,” one person wrote. 

And the impact would be felt long after the fourth-quarter clock ran out. According to Susquehanna analyst Joseph Stauff: “While outages happen, it happened at literally the worst possible time and that is a VERY important miss….The importance of the outage is whether it sours customers in Michigan [since it was just legalized], in particular, that have not yet locked into a preferred app as that takes a few months10.”

He continued: “The risk is that the massive frustration created by not being able to get a bet in on the Super Bowl for 45 minutes prior to the game and during the first quarter is enough for them to move to try competing apps10.” 

During the biggest moment of the year, instead of capturing long-term loyalty, many major betting sites sent customers switching teams and running towards the competition. 


Learn more about companies using chatbots for customer service.


The top challenges in the sports betting industry 

As with any industry experiencing hyper-growth, there are numerous challenges that established and new entrants face. Here are the top challenges in the sports betting industry today: 

  • Spikes in demand: Like in the case of the Super Bowl, sometimes platforms and systems are not prepared to handle a surge in demand, and systems break. Even with planning. If there is unprecedented interest in a short amount of time, back-end systems can become overwhelmed. 
  • Legalization inconsistency: Sports betting is not legal everywhere. While more and more countries take the steps to legalize it, there are still inconsistencies by country and even within countries. In the United States, for instance, not every state has legalized sports betting which creates challenges, including stringent geolocation and KYC/AML requirements11.
  • Fraud and security: Betters have payment information stored within these platforms. Like crypto companies, sports betting companies need to have the most secure systems in place as they are vulnerable to hacks. 
  • Increased competition: More and more companies are getting into the game. From innovative startups to established casinos and entertainment companies, there is a huge fight for consumer attention and wallets. 

The industry’s biggest rival: Competition and churn 

While DraftKings and FanDuel comprise roughly 80% of the U.S. market, floods of competitors are getting in on the action in an industry that will likely outgrow sales of alcohol and all legal cannabis12

There are close to 31K businesses in the sports betting market globally13. Legacy casinos have entered the ring – Caesars Entertainment and MGM Resorts have their own retail sports betting books. Up and comers like Vigtory14 (which was acquired by FuboTV15) are charging less in a bid to woo high rollers. Traditional media companies like Fox, Barstool Sports, ESPN, CBS Sports and the Score are trying their hand16. Even Jay-Z is rumored to be breaking into the lucrative space17. 

“From a crowded field of competitors, only a handful will likely survive long term,” according to The Wall Street Journal2.  

The bad news for companies in the space is that it’s becoming harder to stand out. “Brands are fighting this long hard battle for market share, rising customer acquisition costs and getting high churn rates,” says Dave Edwards, exec VP of global business development at R3 Worldwide. “It’s hard for these sportsbook companies to differentiate themselves. Legally they’re really all the same, all regulated by the state and licensed12.”

In a bid to capture brand loyalty, it’s not uncommon for these companies to give out daily prizes and cash for free. No season-long commitments or money down. Billions are spent on promotions. DraftKings is estimated to spend $93 million on paid media alone12

The companies without these deep pockets, though, need other ways to compete. Could the biggest differentiator be customer experience?

The game plan: Competing on customer experience 

As in other industries where people’s money is on the line (like cryptocurrency, for instance), people expect immediate support if an issue arises. Considering that 81% of bets on live sporting events are done online18, solid in-platform (online chat or in-app chat) support is crucial. Online sports gambling is a 24/7 business and customer support needs to be, too. Being available to people when they need you helps create intimate, emotional connections that can increase revenue, drive engagement, create fan advocates and increase betting frequency. 

Artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots can help sportsbooks and betting sites provide immediate resolutions to repetitive queries so human agents can focus on more complex issues or provide top-notch white-glove support to big spenders. So even if there are unpredictable times of sportsbook outages like last year’s Super Bowl, customers with everyday questions can get the answers they need. 

Here are the top sports betting AI customer support use cases:

  • Assisting during onboarding: There are troves of people trying out betting apps for the first time. AI Chatbots can help navigate through sometimes unintuitive onboarding processes and decrease immediate, first-session churn (25% of users abandon an app just after one use19). 
  • Verifying accounts and providing log-in assistance: AI Chatbots can answer common questions related to account management, troubleshoot validation process glitches and get people engaged with betting content faster.  
  • Providing frictionless money exchanges: When bets are placed and deposits and withdrawals are requested, people expect immediate attention; their money’s on the line. At this pivotal time, if there are any issues or friction, people are likely to become disenchanted with a service. An AI chatbot can walk a person through the steps and answer questions throughout the process instantly.  
  • Cross-selling: Based on historical behavior, sportsbooks and betting sites can understand which customers would likely be interested in betting on new events or joining contests. AI chatbots can automate messages to customers the back-end algorithms predict would be interested. 
  • Promoting responsible gaming: AI chatbots can preemptively intervene when a person is getting close to their self-set betting limits. It can offer education and tips on how to bet responsibly and flag potential addictive behavior. 
  • Troubleshooting common bugs and technical issues: While human agents will likely be needed in real-time during technical issues during times of high traffic, after a glitch has been resolved, AI chatbots can be trained to alert people of the issue and how to settle bets. AI can also act as the first line of defense to gather information from people affected who report losses to speed the time to resolution. 

The time is now to prioritize sports betting CX 

“Eventually, things will shake out and there will be clear winners in the space, but right now it’s a pure land grab and eyeball grab,” says Derek Van Nostran, chief marketing officer of VSiN, the 24/7 sports betting cable network12. As there are regulatory constraints with differentiation between the products and services themselves, bookmakers need to prioritize their customer experience to stand out and capture long-term loyalty. 

Can we help you determine the benefit your retail sportsbook can reap from adopting AI? Request a demo today

References

  1. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/global-online-gambling-market-could-exceed-125-billion-by-2027-301194868.html
  2. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-upcoming-nfl-season-is-crunch-time-for-sports-betting-11629451802 
  3. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestechcouncil/2021/02/25/not-just-a-game-online-sports-betting-and-the-rise-of-corrosive-technology/?sh=15e6d95270ec
  4. https://playtoday.co/blog/sports-betting-statistics/
  5. https://www.americangaming.org/new/23-2-million-americans-to-wager-on-super-bowl-lv/
  6. https://www.americangaming.org/new/47-million-americans-to-wager-on-march-madness-as-legal-sports-betting-booms/
  7. https://www.americangaming.org/research/state-gaming-map/ 
  8. https://sportshandle.com/geocomply-state-challenges/
  9. https://www.cnbc.com/2021/02/08/sports-gambling-sites-crash-during-footballs-biggest-game-.html
  10. https://sportshandle.com/sb-unplanned-outages-2921/
  11. https://www.sporttechie.com/sports-betting-gambling-challenges-once-legalized 
  12. https://adage.com/article/marketing-news-strategy/us-sports-betting-race-and-many-marketers-want-piece-action/2305551 
  13. https://www.statista.com/topics/1740/sports-betting/
  14. https://www.forbes.com/sites/chrissheridan/2020/09/12/new-player-in-us-sports-gambling-industry-seeks-to-win-big-by-cutting-the-vig/?sh=5832a5123343 
  15. https://sporttechie.com/fubotv-plots-sportsbook-integration-with-vigtory-acquisition
  16. https://www.espn.com/chalk/story/_/id/29174799/sports-betting-growth-us-extraordinary 
  17. https://www.sportscasting.com/jay-z-wants-to-start-sports-gambling-empire
  18. https://www.casino.org/news/most-sports-betting-is-online-as-more-states-plan-to-go-mobile/ 
  19. https://learn.g2.com/how-to-reduce-app-churn