How Self-Service Is Changing Technology

So much of what is developing in technology right now is aligning itself towards so-called ‘self-service’ options for users to be able to ‘get stuff done’ (or actioned and resolved) in ways that would have previously always meant engaging with another human being.

This isn’t just Artificial Intelligence (AI) and chatbots; this is self-service where organizations have worked to build automation layers into their business so that self-service ‘tickets’ for IT Service Management desk jobs can be executed without a service agent needing to physically engage, or attend a user’s desk or location. It is also the extended use of AI to ‘talk’ to humans, the ability for social media platforms to communicate with you on increasingly direct (but essentially automated) interactions… and for IT systems to remind you to be at the dentist by text message and so on.

All of these self-service elements are now driving software application developers’ interest levels towards platforms that can understand the language patterns being expressed by real human beings, and so help to self-serve.

Survey spin, or substance?

A recent 2019 survey suggests that 88% of companies believe ‘self-service’ will be the fastest-growing channel in customer service by 2021. But surveys are rarely presented without a degree of spin, so should we be wary of the State of Native Customer Experience Report being presented by Unbabel? After all, the company specializes in producing a customer service product that allows enterprises to understand (and be understood by) their customers in dozens of languages.

The survey itself was commissioned by Unbabel and run by Execs In The Know, a community of customer experience professionals. The report would have us believe that ‘average speed of answer’ is no longer the gold standard by which customer support is now measured.

When asked which general factors had the highest impact on customer satisfaction, nearly all respondents (92%) rated ‘solving the customer’s problem’ as having the most impact, followed by providing ‘knowledgeable support agents’ (64%) with ‘speed of case resolution’ (62%) only third most important.

In other words, the first-time resolution delivered by agents well-equipped to understand and address customer queries and actually fix problems has emerged as the key performance metric. What all this leads us to is a suggestion that – where these technologies can actually be proven to work and show the right level of intelligence – we can see more and more chatbots and other forms of automated self-service technologies being deployed. The trend could be especially prevalent in firms that present increasingly web-centric and mobile-first customer engagement options.

The truth is, bots and AI are now almost always working in the background of telephone-based customer interactions to help self-serve.

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