If you’ve been in this industry for any length of time, you may waffle between excitement and cynicism over self-service (SS). There has been so much promise and hype tempered by an equal measure of disappointment. To tip the scales in favor of excitement, here’s my list of game-changers that can transform a lackluster SS experience into a stellar one.
Natural language: Natural language improves the user interface, whether text-based or speech-based interactions. As this technology improves, it makes SS apps smarter about what is being said. In some cases, it even considers the emotions or mood of the speaker or writer. All that makes for a better overall “conversation.”
Tools for building and optimizing interactions: Whether a developer is diving in using Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) and Software Development Kits (SDKs), or a contact center user is configuring a workflow with a simple graphical user interface, things happen faster and easier than ever before. Buyers can tap a broad community of partners, developers, and users for any given tool. They can build business rules and decision points, capture and use data on outcomes to optimize, and then adjust the flow and interactions. Everyone likes fast and easy!
Bots: No SS discussion these days is complete without talking about bots. Our “Future of the Contact Center” survey results in July 2019 showed great hope is being placed here. Bots could transform a variety of channels with well-built interfaces. Add in machine learning and it really gets exciting! Knowledge Management: KM is changing with improvements that could enable better SS. Centers are no longer just talking about SharePoint and a bunch of documents and folders. KM structures information into bite-size pieces that can be accessed via a variety of channels – including SS. AI can play a role here, optimizing information and finding it quickly. The power of good KM combined with better user interfaces makes me optimistic that self-service success rates may go up!
Everyday tools: The ongoing evolution of tools your customers use every day bodes well for SS success. Google (or other search engines) are often where customers start looking for answers; Google is incorporating more AI and “bot-izing” to help users find answers faster. So, you need to imagine your customer starting there and think about how their journey evolves through that interface. Similarly, the increasing use of Siri and home devices like Alexa and Google Home present an interface that is all about convenience for the user. These tools leverage many of the things listed above, like better natural language, AI, and access to KM.
Biometrics: Improvements in authentication make it easier to get into SS, whether through your fingerprint or visual ID on your mobile device, or your captured or “registered” voiceprint. The more customers grow accustomed to these technologies, the more they will expect them as they embark on a self-service journey. Companies that leverage them will win in the self-service game.
Artificial Intelligence: You may have noticed that AI is a recurring theme. As I’ve pointed out in other articles, AI is not a standalone “project.” It is something that can be done as part of many other things, perhaps the ultimate “enabling technology.” All the things that can be done in SS via business rules can be better with AI.