At Bristow & Sutor, our commitment to sophisticated modern technology has evolved our business in recent times. Investment in innovative systems and software development helped us remain operational and contactable throughout the coronavirus pandemic, as well as making all processes more efficient and scalable, ensuring business users, clients and customers receive a pro-active service at all times.
This ongoing success with technology was recognised earlier this year with a Silver Award for Digital Change & Transformation at the DXA’20, UK Digital Experience Awards. Insight and investigation into areas such as behavioural science has also affected engagement, maximising our ability to reach positive outcomes and influencing how we train our employees on best practice.
As part of these conscious efforts to become more data-driven and committed to ongoing digital transformation, Bristow & Sutor has recently implemented automated chatbot functionality, specifically for customer engagement via text message over WhatsApp. The goal was to bring our model and practice up to date, facilitating meaningful and informative conversations and outcomes for debtors when they are the initiator of message-based conversations. This incredibly useful technology can identify requests, the type of debt being discussed and use the comprehensive workflow to suggest relevant next steps, advice, links and information for resolving Parking or Council Tax related queries. Messages have been populated in a friendly and conversational way to help acquire relevant details efficiently and effortlessly.
No matter what industry a business specialises in, the need to respond to customers quickly and accurately utilising tools such as WhatsApp has become essential. We must engage with debtors, who often contact other services in this way, such as banks, on a platform that they are comfortable with; reaching people and providing answers to their questions in a helpful way is something we are dedicated to.
Most importantly, options to pay are provided by the automated responses so that any debtors who feel embarrassed speaking to someone over the phone or in-person can resolve their debts comfortably via message. We understand that these topics can be emotional and there is sometimes a feeling of safety when having time to compose a message rather than talk. But the speed of service is also a benefit of contacting us in this way. Using a chatbot service means instant responses and is no less beneficial for setting up commitments.
There is always still the option to speak to someone and usefully, the whole conversation taking place via chatbot can be picked up by in-house experts at Bristow & Sutor. This is useful for the debtor as it means the information they provide does not need to be repeated, but also for our employees. Internal response to this chatbot functionality has been positive, as it means the groundwork of identifying what solution is needed has often already been established before a conversation takes place.
We are only one month into this technology being implemented and it is set to get even more advanced as time progresses. Currently, the system reacts to important words that signify what is needed, but much like how voice search is becoming more sophisticated on google, our functionality is already expanding to include wider word interpretation. Every step is configurable and we aim to remove as many steps as possible as time goes on until the process is optimal. If somebody struggles with reaching their desired information using this service, a Bristow & Sutor agent will be on hand to take over the conversation after just two unidentifiable responses.
Chatbots remain a new solution and it may take a little while before the business realises the full potential of this technology but results already seen have been impressive. During the first two weeks of these solutions being launched, 2265 conversations took place. 19 messages were shared per chat on average and 350 cases were handled completely with no need for human assistance, including 28 payments and 232 arrangements. 104 further automated conversation were completed in addition to this and due to the nature of contact, required no further agent intervention.
Ongoing digital transformation has already helped Bristow & Sutor create, develop, and maintain portals, apps, and debt recovery tools, including cohesive software that ensures our smartphone app, our Client Portal, our award-winning Debtor Portal and our back-office system, ECS, immediately update and show the latest information on any case. We are even able to identify the most efficient routes from a complete list of live cases to improve productivity and reduce our Enforcement Agents (EAs) carbon footprints. The use of chatbots appears set to become the next success story in our ongoing transformation journey.
Bristow & Sutor continues to support clients and customers whilst remaining committed to its ethos of Cool, Calm and Collected.