“When the pandemic started…”
What do you do if your company sees an overnight explosion of growth? Your traffic zooms from hundreds to millions of customers in a heartbeat. That’s the dream, right? But would you be prepared to meet the sudden demand?
For most companies, customer support is still the #1 bottleneck for growth. So, experiencing an unexpected explosion of growth could cause you to drop the ball. First impressions matter.
The good news?
Most companies will face gradual growth until they reach a state of critical mass. They can anticipate when and how much they’ll need to scale. But for others, there’s no warning. That’s what happened to ALAB laboratoria, a medical diagnostics company, when COVID-19 hit.
They went from needing to process a few hundred customer requests a day to thousands. No one was anticipating a fast-spreading and total global pandemic. There’s the off chance that it will happen, but being prepared is another story.
"When the pandemic started, we didn’t see an increase in work because of a new product. The COVID test is much the same as any standard medical test. Customers ask the same repetitive questions about it. The problem was the sudden increase in demand. So, it was our top priority to automate repetitive questions. Automation for all requests was the only solution at that point."
— Michał Milczarek, Director of Development, ALAB
ALAB had four goals when it came to scaling their customer service during COVID-19:
- Automate booking to prevent customer queues during COVID.
- Automating repetitive questions to meet the new demand.
- Getting an AI chatbot to answer nuanced questions.
- Keeping a high level of customer service excellence.
They decided to use Zowie AI integrated with the following channels:
- ALAB’s Website
- Facebook Messenger
Here are the results:
- ALAB was the first company to provide automated booking for COVID-19 tests.
- Zowie automated 66% of customer service requests in 2 weeks for ALAB.
- Zowie chatbot automated 72% of requests in 1 month after learning from ALAB’s calls.
- In just 3 months, Zowie automated 85% of all requests for ALAB.
- Zowie created dedicated APIs for ALAB’s chatbot to handle nuanced requests.
- ALAB didn’t have to hire further agents to handle temporary pandemic volume.
ALAB’s Traffic Soared from Hundreds to Thousands of Requests Overnight
To run a company on excellent service, you need an excellent customer service team. And ALAB had that. They had almost a dozen people already dedicated to serving up customer support. The average wait time for their helpline was already under 60 seconds. And it wasn’t uncommon for them to respond to customers within 20 seconds. But once COVID-19 hit, 10 agents handling 40 calls a day weren't going to cut it.
Now, ALAB was getting thousands of customer service calls a day. Not hundreds. Their first solution was to hire more agents. But they found that they’d have to double their workforce twice over to meet the demand. The recruitment process alone would last through the end of the year, leaving ALAB understaffed and overwhelmed. Automation was the only thing that promised immediate relief
On October 21, 2020, Poland announced that the country was entering a semi-partial lockdown. On that day, ALAB received 16.7K customer service requests. With only 20 agents fielding 40 calls each, they could maybe address half the requests received.
While a chatbot solution was appealing, there were some other concerns. First, customers refer to different tests by a variety of names. There are many tests that occur in rounds or have different versions. Plus, pricing varies by location and availability.
So, if you ask a chatbot - How much does a COVID-19 test cost? - the chatbot has to be smart enough to ask you where you live first. It wasn’t a matter of using a set of basic questions or following a template. ALAB’s chatbot would need to be smart and figure things out for itself. It needed to work immediately and understand the nuanced questions of ALAB’s customers.
ALAB Automates 66% of Customer Service Requests in 2 Weeks with Zowie
The first reason ALAB chose Zowie? The chatbot goes to work right away. There is no wait time, no code, no developers, no complicated implementation. ALAB plugged Zowie into their existing techstack within a matter of minutes and Zowie went to work getting things under control.
“We were (shocked) positively surprised how fast Zowie automated our customer service. We needed a fast solution, and we got it! Two weeks and Zowie automated half of our requests. We were finally able to keep pace with the (explosion) flow of new requests brought on by the pandemic.”
— Agnieszka Pietrzak, Innovation and Development Coordinator, ALAB
Within two weeks, ALAB saw 66% of their requests automated. The goal was 50%. Two more weeks, and ALAB was at 72% automation. In November 2020, Zowie automated 55K requests for ALAB. After three months, Zowie automated 85% of ALAB’s customer service requests.
“We’ve seen a significant decrease in the number of calls related to common questions. Our analytics show that Zowie copes well with handling customer requests. Our patients can find information about price and wait times in seconds using the chatbot. It’s a huge improvement for our customers and the majority are very satisfied with the solution.”
— Diana Ciba, Acting Manager of the Customer Service Department, ALAB
The second reason ALAB chose Zowie? The chatbot is smart and learns on its own. Questions about blood collection locations and test prices were reduced through automation. By creating a dedicated API, the chatbot learned what questions to ask in what order. Zowie knows to ask where a person lives when they ask, “What does a COVID-19 test cost?”
ALAB Automates 85% of Customer Service Requests in 3 Months with Zowie
ALAB experienced a shock when COVID-19 hit Poland. With no warning their traffic and customer service requests started to double and triple overnight. Faced with bottlenecks, recruiting and training new customer service agents wasn’t a realistic solution.
Zowie helped ALAB scale to meet the new demand within a matter of weeks. Even though many of the customer service requests are nuanced, Zowie learned the appropriate way to ask for further information and provide the correct information. ALAB saw their customer service team stabilize. With the help of a chatbot, they could continue to offer the same high level of service as before the pandemic. Plus, ALAB will continue to use Zowie even post-pandemic to automate those repetitive questions that always troubled them.
"Integrating with Zowie was super easy. Testing the chatbot was also super easy. And we will stick with Zowie after the pandemic for sure. Even without COVID, it’s good that we automated. Pick any medical test and people ask the same questions all the time. Whether it’s about price, wait times, or opening hours. So, our Zowie chatbot will always be useful."
— Marlena Bieniek, IT Project Manager, ALAB
As ALAB found, Zowie’s AI chatbot answers repetitive questions so human agents are free to handle the most nuanced issues. Zowie’s AI works like a brain. It learns, forms a knowledge base, automates, and learns some more all by itself. Plus, Zowie fits your needs no matter what. Your demand, channels, product, or techstack could change. Zowie goes with you and integrates with everything.
With Zowie, you’re prepared for sudden, explosive growth. Whether it’s because you went viral or in ALAB’s case because of a virus, you can beat bottlenecks with automation. Already having a tool like Zowie absorbs the shock from sudden spikes in requests and traffic. And if you’re not quite ready for automation, put it in your crisis management plan as your go-to solution.