Have you visited a charging station and the charger is no longer available or the wait is too long? Or even worse the charger is broken? “Frustrating” is an understatement to describe this experience which brings us face to face with the unblinking tension of wasting your precious time. After all, time, along with money and effort, are the three currencies customers pay businesses with. The good news is that there is a massive build out of electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure.
But don’t be fooled this expansion is to support the explosion of EVs set to hit the road over the next two decades. And with that will come a spate of never imagined customer experience issues (including the occasional absurd TikTok challenge involving EV charging). We’ll double-click on those issues in a few paragraphs but first let’s look at the numbers behind this so called “electric tsunami.”
The electric tsunami is about to go into ludicrous mode
In 2020, there were over 10m EVs worldwide. By 2025, EVs are expected to be 30% of new vehicle sales, in fact the state of California plans to say 35% of new car sales must be EVs by 2026. By 2040 that 30% will grow to more than 50% worldwide, and by 2050 the EIA expects there will be 672m EVs on the road. Demand for EVs is strong and governments are pushing aggressive agendas to accommodate an infrastructure that supports this next phase of hyper growth. There is a monumental need to build out the right infrastructure to support what’s to come with the emerging EV ecosystem. These include: charging stations, electricity sourcing, supply chains, and the workforce. In fact:
EVs will make up 83% of all vehicle sales by 2040
The EV charging station market will grow at a CAGR of 35.5% from 2019-2024
The EU had 224,538 public charging points in 2020, which may swell to one million in just two years and three million by 2029
California will more than triple its level 2 chargers and double its DC fast chargers by 2025
The Biden administration has earmarked a goal of 500,000 public charging stations by 2030
...and customer experience (CX) will be the greatest challenge
Bad CX costs businesses across the globe $4.7 trillion every year as consumers take their business elsewhere or reduce spend with brands. This will spill over into the EV world as vehicles, charging stations, components, adapters, and other peripherals hit critical mass and competition intensifies. Already due to a shortage of raw materials like lithium and cobalt the availability of EV batteries are facing challenges.
That being said as with any maturing market CX will be increasingly important for differentiation for EV service providers (EVSP). CX in this industry extends beyond the vehicle. Drivers will contact customer service agents for help in troubleshooting issues with charging stations, mobile apps, billing and payments and many other reasons which will crop up over time. CX also includes a multitude of areas including product access, design, and reliability, to pre- and post-purchase B2C and B2B customer support, and even field services. Scaling and delivering on these will be a major challenge for EV service providers as the:
Knowledge required by agents is extensive and dynamic. Agents must be knowledgeable in myriad of areas that are constantly changing as the EV industry matures. Technical agents need to help field technicians troubleshoot and correct physical installation issues and assist with application navigation. Customer facing agents must help customers troubleshoot issues such as charging, payment, billing, mobile apps, policies, etc. In fact, billing just by itself is highly complex due to the myriad of charging options and locations ranging from public charging sites, homes, gas stations, retail sites, commercial and industrial sites, multiple dwelling units, municipalities have their own requirements.
Employee experience for support services is often poor and fragmented. Agent retention is a massive challenge across all industries with many companies reporting 58% to upwards of over 100% attrition rates. Making the work environment better for employees is paramount. Many agents have to navigate through multiple apps on the desktop to access the data they need to resolve customer issues. For those that support field technicians many have to compile, pull, and parse various station and network logs. These add complexity, time, and stress for the employee who may be engaging a frustrated customer or employee. This will also become more complex as the industry further matures and more applications are added to the agent workspace.
Training time for agents is long. Average onboarding for agents is 4-12 weeks and for some companies it’s longer as agents need to be immersed in the brand and knowledgeable enough be able to handle the complex inquiries that will fill their queues.
EV ecosystem is highly complex and rapidly evolving. It involves multiple parties including charging station installers and providers, maintenance providers, and electricity suppliers. This will further evolve with the installation of millions of charge points in different residential and business locations for public and private use.
Use Collaborative Intelligence (CQ) to elevate your CX
While chatbots and self-service (FAQs, IVR) will help customers to a certain extent the need for human agents has never been greater for EVSPs as competition increases and brand differentiation is needed. EVSPs need to look to AI-powered tools to augment their agents – who really sit at the heart of customer experience.
Imagine the start of a conversation between a customer and an agent:
As the customer describes her issue (over the phone or via chat) the agent’s screen dynamically populates (on its own) the specific information and workflow to resolve the customer’s issue. The agent didn’t have to press any button on the keyboard or mouse.
Then as the conversation continues the tool listens in and provides real-time dialogue suggestions, behavioral cues, and knowledge surfacing (articles, forms, videos, etc) to the agent.
This “keyboard-less” agent experience where agents tag team with AI to drive better outcomes during a conversation is the latest cool and applied technology in customer engagement – called collaborative intelligence (CQ). It enables the agent to really focus on the customer and the quality of the conversation while the AI enriches the interaction and agent performance. This then provides ESVPs with the ability to:
Improve first contact resolution (FCR) and decreasing average handle time (AHT). A core benefit of in-the-conversation, real-time agent guidance provided by CQ is improving FCR rates while decreasing AHT. This translates to improvements in CSAT, NPS, and effort scores as well are cost reduction. A client of ours decreased AHT by almost 50% and increased FCR by 12%.
Accelerate new agent onboarding times. With the use of CQ an organization can typically expect 25%-33% reductions in time-to-efficiency for new agents without any disruption to the call flow or chat interaction. This data point was gathered through scouring multiple case studies. One of our clients is forecasting a 75% decrease in agent onboarding time.
Reduce agent stress and workload to improve agent satisfaction (ASAT). Agents are constantly reacting to changing customer sentiment in the call or chat simultaneously with overcoming knowledge gaps. This constant grind is stressful to say the least. Because CQ provides real-time, contextual knowledge surfacing it decreases training time or eliminates the need for training entirely in some cases. For example, agents can always be up to date on the latest policy changes without having to undergo training or having to manually scour knowledge bases and paper documentation to answer the customer. Some CQ tools can sense customer and agent sentiment and compare that against, handle time, and complexity of interaction. The tool can then suggest the agent to take a ‘breather’ upon taking consecutive complex calls.
Improve recommendations for customers and field technicians. CQ is designed, at its core, to provide the absolute best (and most attractive) outcome for the conversation. To double-click into that during the customer engagement agents are guided to offer the best option in that moment, for that specific customer, based on their propensity to accept the offer. It can also augment existing recommendation engines by bringing contextualization to conversations in real-time. This, in turn, provides more granular, dynamic, and precise recommendations than a simple ‘next best action’.
Identify agents in need and coach them to success. When high attrition rates combine with longer hiring processes, increased employee requirements around work-life balance, work from home, and higher salary & benefits packages, companies risk a “perfect storm” in terms of increased costs and negative impact to customer experience KPIs. CQ enables organizations to quickly identify and train the lowest quartile (those that may not be a company fit in the early days) to level-up those agents so they can be more effective in their roles faster. For the business this helps mitigate the cost impacts of high attrition and long, expensive hiring cycles.
Transform QA process and organization to optimize costs. CQ provides automated analysis of 100% of calls which then frees up the QA team from manual call reviews so they can focus on reviewing “at-risk” conversations. This enables swifter and more precise responses to changing customer environments, evolving products and business processes, and provides unique insights for agent quality reviews.
Extract business intelligence and voice of the customer (VOC) for more value. With CQ companies can derive unique, in-the-moment insights about all call or chat types. This will include optimal call or chat path baseline and agent adherence, real-time FCR, NPS, and CSAT in aggregate as well as for individual calls or chats. In addition there are data-driven insights into how call and chat paths and business processes might need to change, based on prioritization of KPIs and certain commercial levers. This provides a beacon for supervisors and team leads to stay ahead of events and changes to help inform agents and prepare them for upcoming rough patches.
Determine best agent modeling for every call and chat type. Given how quickly the environment (both in the market and in the employee area) is changing CQ brings scale and precision to best agent modeling. Best agent modeling feeds back into optimal call flow modeling. Empowering business owners and managers with the ability to identify optimal call flows and top-performing agent actions and behaviors ensures that every agent will be guided in real-time to act just like the top-performing agents.