From Knowledge Base to Virtual Agents: The Shift to AI-powered Self Service

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Customer self-service refers to customer-initiated interaction technologies that enable customers to access information and perform routine tasks without requiring the assistance of a live customer service representative. You may not realize it, but every time you change your password, track a package, or pay a bill without calling the company for assistance, you are performing a self-service task.

Drivers for customer self-service

Organizations generally implement self-service tools within their customer support processes as a response to a business challenge. Four common challenges that drive self-service are:

Volume of simple, repetitive tasks: 60% of customer service calls are requests for assistance with common, uncomplicated tasks. These include basic operational instructions, password changes or simple troubleshooting techniques. Although this information can usually be found in the user manual, customers looking for assistance with these basic tasks drive a large volume of calls to the customer care center, which can be avoided with self-service..

Rising customer expectations: With service becoming a primary battleground for winning customers,  consumers have come to expect fast service 24/7/365. This always-available model of service can provide a true competitive advantage in many industries and markets. In fact, according to a Walker study, by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

More service, with lower cost: With customer expectations rising and business offerings becoming more complex, companies must expand their levels of customer service, but face pressure to reduce costs. The ability to improve  service quality, while remaining cost effective, is heavily reliant on the company’s ability to adopt and integrate effective  self-service alternatives.

Self-reliant consumers: Led by millennial consumers, a growing number of tech-savvy customers clearly prefer the do-it-yourself model. As evidence, recent surveys conducted by Nuance Communications and TechSee[A1]  revealed that two-thirds of consumers prefer self-service over speaking to a human for customer service inquiries, and 60% prefer to make a company’s website the first stop when attempting to solve an issue.

In the early days of self service, companies implemented static channels such as FAQs, how-to videos, troubleshooting guides, and knowledge bases. These mediums help customers with basic questions find accurate, relevant, and complete answers instantly, without the need to speak to a service representative. While these static solutions are geared toward sophisticated customers who are self-reliant and relatively capable,  new AI-powered self service options are slowly extending the reach of self-service, providing more intelligent and proactive automated solutions that are relevant to broader audiences.

The rise of Artificial Intelligence in customer self-service

While still evolving, AI has demonstrated value throughout the customer journey, enabling proactive customer self-service in the form of conversational platforms aimed at consumers, such as  chatbots, IVRs, visual bots, etc.  AI has also powered decision support tools, which help human agents present customers with relevant information in real time with the goal of making the best decisions and providing the right information to consumers.

This process is already embedded into most customer service functions, including:

  • Classification – the ability to identify the problem presented by the customer
  • Routing – the task of transferring the case to the most suitable channel (automated or human) to achieve the best resolution
  • Resolution – the ability to solve the customer’s problem, whether it is filling out a form, rebooting a device or dealing with a canceled flight.

Steps for introducing Artificial Intelligence into self-service

                               

If your company is looking to invest in disruptive technology that exploits market dynamics and provides a competitive edge: look no further than AI. Here are the steps to get started:

  1.     Build the virtual agent around a single strategic objective. Determine the ”why” – what is the goal of the implementation of AI-powered self-service for your organization? Is it cost reduction? Higher revenue goals? Decreased agent workload?  Focus on the business priorities and develop the virtual agent’s capabilities to support this objective.
  2.     Prioritize high-volume, common customer questions. Collect data from existing repositories, including FAQs or helpdesk macros. Keep the tasks assigned to the virtual agent as simple as possible in order to maximize the initial return on investment.
  3.     Focus on human-centered design intelligence over more complicated machine learning in the short term. Humanize the AI experience for users by allowing them to act naturally, using language and intonation they would normally use. Concentrating on perfecting individual conversations will yield significant benefits in the long run.
  4.     Develop detailed mid-term targets for scoping your virtual agent, and ensure your goals have the support of top-level management. The transformation to AI-powered self-service is a major undertaking and must be treated as such.

Summary

Improving the customer experience is an ongoing process. Implementing customer self-service in contact centers has been proven to reduce costs and increase operational efficiencies. Simple online FAQs are giving way to powerful AI automated systems that empower agents and improve the customer service process at scale. These systems enhance today’s contact centers in multiple ways —  from true self-service functions that deliver an unprecedented level of speed, personalization and efficiency to hybrid solutions that augment the human agent’s performance. AI is at the heart of this revolution, and data collected from your enterprise customer service is its driving force.

Start the strategic discussions today about how the successful implementation of these technologies can help position your contact center to deliver the next generation of customer support. For more information about how your business can take advantage of AI while guaranteeing a consistently excellent experience for your customers, contact TechSee at for a free demo.

TechSee Cognitive Visual Assistance Platform

TechSee is global leader in Visual Support technologies, revolutionizing the customer support domain by providing the first intelligent visual support solution powered by artificial intelligence and augmented reality. TechSee empowers technical support teams across the globe to execute visually-interactive remote diagnoses and resolutions of problems. The company is building a massive database of interactions and resolutions to enable customers to experience rapid, fully automated, robotic visual resolution of technical issues via their smartphones.