If you haven’t embraced the benefits of self-service technology for contact center performance, or if you have legacy self-service that perform poorly, you are at risk of losing your competitive edge and falling behind.
The global pandemic has accelerated changes in consumer behavior and expectations. Employees working from home, and widespread lockdown restrictions, have increased contact center volumes, creating more pressure to deliver better experiences. The latest contact center annual report confirms this, with self-service enhancements a top priority for 2021.
Fortunately, self-service technology is maturing, offering flexible solutions designed for businesses of all shapes and sizes. It can provide transformational capabilities, and often be implemented as a stand-alone solution.
The fact is that, improving cost-efficiencies and contact center performance could be easier than you think. Leveraging self-service technologies not only empowers everyone involved in Customer Experience (CX) but can also boost longer term brand loyalty.
Self-service is more relatable
The term ‘self-service’ covers many different technologies behind cash machines, barcode scanners, online banking services, supermarket self-check outs, to name a few. Ultimately the goal of ‘self-service’ is to get results, quickly and effectively, whatever the process – for both customers and businesses.
Self-service can successfully automate many repetitive requests, or predictive tasks. Plus, you can program your system to know when to escalate the call, redirecting the ‘conversation’, to a skilled human agent. This removes one of the biggest objections to earlier versions of self-service technology, that customers could get stuck in an infinite loop and become very frustrated.
To deploy self-service successfully requires a combination of different technologies, data collection processes and analytical approaches for both voice and text interfaces. This requires intelligent, tightly integrated solutions, to ensure the right results and experiences are delivered.
Leveraging a knowledge base
One of the keys to delivering an intelligent solution is to leverage a growing ‘knowledge base’. One that captures a user’s journey, and provides real-time support and contextual information, specific to that customer. The ‘knowledge base’ underpins machine-learning technologies, providing analytics for continuous performance improvements.
Organizations can benefit from rapid advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Understanding (NLU), which form part of an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) solution. It is these advances which are making self-service more responsive and relatable to humans.
Customers simultaneously interrogate and feed these ‘knowledge bases’ through all their interactions. Whether through search engines, customer websites, or via interactive conversations. All these interactions serve to improve the quality of the responses and the overall experience.
Your self-service experience
So, even if you don’t have the latest self-service technology in your business already, there is a good chance you are encountering different types of the technology, with varying performance levels, every single day. For example, you are unknowingly using self-service when you are searching the internet, surfing websites, booking a dental appointment, and researching a new car insurance rate.
Whatever the process, we all want to get the result we are looking for as easily and quickly as possible. You don’t need, or even want, to speak to a human if the experience is relatable, and gets the job done. So, when a self-service experience goes smoothly, everyone wins.
If you get your self-service technology right, your customers will love you for it. This in turn has the potential to boost brand loyalty, often without any human interaction at all!
A top priority for contact centers
There is strong case to be made for not only using self-service technologies, but also ensuring it is optimized for your business. Given the technological advances, and improved application interfaces that combine to deliver high performance self-service solutions, it’s easy to understand why it is on the top of many customer service organization’s wish lists.
According to the Contact Pipeline Special Report, January 2021, self-service has remained the top priority for contact center investment. With almost a quarter of all the respondents confirming that they will be implementing, or improving, their self-service capability this year.
The technology gives businesses the ability to respond to peaks in workload, without increasing staffing, or compromising on the quality of service. Making a significant contribution to a healthy bottom-line and the ability to grow.
Plus, contact center agents like it too. It takes the mundane work away from them, which provides additional time to help solve the complex challenges. Self-service software can provide the agent with information about the customer’s journey, so far. It can provide a list of potential questions to ask and clear routes for resolution. This makes it easier and quicker for agents to resolve issues effectively, enhancing the experience for all parties.
The pandemic catalyst for technology
Self-service is more critical today than ever before, given the challenges contact centers have faced during the ongoing global pandemic.
When it hit, in 2020, only 13% of US agents worked remotely on a permanent basis, according to a leader for omnichannel customer experience and contact center solutions, Genesys. In addition to transitioning to work from home environments, for which many organizations were ill-prepared, specific industries had to respond to dramatically increased call volumes.
COVID-19 has not only increased the volume of interactions with contact centers, but also accelerated changes in the way customers want to interact. Remote living and working means more of us are relying on technology to connect with the outside world.
Today, it appears to us that customers are keen to be in control of their transactions. In many sectors we support. the customers seem happier to resolve queries and serve themselves when it’s quick and easy. Many people even appear to prefer self-service.
So, customers and contact centers are striving to achieve the same result. Customers are delighted with self-service solutions which are instantly relatable. They are even showing a preference for self-service, where it is appropriate. Given that this trend is unlikely to change, it is time to think about your self-service solutions and whether they could be doing more for your brand!
Making a difference with self-service
Self-service technology is a top investment priority for contact centers and for good reason! Its capabilities have advanced in leaps and bounds. Chatbots are quick learners, supported by performance enhancing developments voice technology and artificial intelligence.
The pandemic has highlighted the benefits of good self-service solutions. It is now a ‘go to’ component of most customer experience enhancement programs.
An effective self-service deployment enables organizations to manage increasing workloads, customer expectations, and it helps businesses deliver better brand experiences, without breaking the bank.
Proven self-service technologies, can be implemented as stand-alone solutions too. Making it easier to deploy self-service capabilities that are efficient, effective, and relatable. Plus, it gives you all the analytical tools to constantly improve your customers’ experience.
Not only has the technology come of age, but customers have too. They expect more – more control, more interaction, and quicker results. But the great news is customers are happy to serve themselves. Organizations just need to make sure they can!