British Gas subsidiary Hive has been able to reduce the number of voice interactions it has to have with customers by adopting a range of Salesforce solutions, including a web chat interface directly within the context of its popular smart home mobile app.
Founded in 2012 within the British Gas parent company Centrica, Hive makes smart home devices which customers can control from a mobile app. It received brand recognition for the Active Heating smart metre device, but has since moved into other areas of the smart home, such as Active Light, Active Plug, as well as leak detection and a camera device.
Hive has been a Salesforce customer almost since day one, replacing a spreadsheet for customer service records back in 2013. Now it uses Heroku to host its website and Salesforce solutions for sales, billing, marketing and customer service.
Speaking on stage as part of Salesforce World Tour in London today, Neil Procter, global head of customer systems at Hive, spoke about the various ways the organisation is using Salesforce technology to help its customers, starting back in 2013 with its adoption of Service Cloud to build the "foundation of a single record of the customer," as he put it.
"From that base the path we are on is to move to a way of serving the customer that doesn't involve thousands of agents in a call centre," he added.
This means leveraging Service Cloud across a range of digital channels such as web chat, a move that has directly reduced the number of voice interactions the company processes by 20 percent since 2016, Procter said.
The next step was to embed that chat functionality directly within the Hive app, where customers actually control their smart devices.
For example, if a device is showing as offline Hive can now pop up a chat window directly within the app to offer some guidance. "You can get very context-specific and the agent is also aware of that context, so it's much more efficient," Procter explained.
Hive has over a million customers, so it has a wealth of data to personalise customer service interactions on, for example personalising an email through Marketing Cloud or giving agents a detailed billing breakdown when you get them on the phone.
"We want to deliver a personalised experience to customers and that at the base level involves data," Procter said.
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This can even extend to taking a more proactive approach to help avoid customer churn in an increasingly competitive sector.
By using Salesforce's IoT platform, Hive can start to deliver real-time insights from each individual customer back to its staff to help aid retention.
For example, by aggregating usage analytics in Salesforce IoT, Hive staff can start to contact a customer that isn't engaging with their products to ask why and maybe help resolve any issues they are having. These insights could also trigger a case action with a customer service agent, or a personalised offer email in Marketing Cloud to aid retention.
AI and bots
Procter said no panel discussion would be complete without discussion of "bots and AI", going on to outline how Hive is investigating those technologies.
Procter says Hive is looking "proactively" at solutions like Salesforce's own AI-powered Einstein solutions.
Hive is experimenting with Einstein technology at the moment to intelligently route emails to the correct agent, as well as the possibility of auto responding to simple queries.
This naturally leads into chatbot technology, where Procter is looking to use bots to, at best, automate responses to routine queries, like when an appointment is scheduled for, to, at the least, passing some extra contextual information on to an agent when the case is passed on.