For those unaware of the concept, Intelligent Self-Service (ISS) is the use of a collection of several different technologies to allow customers to get the information they need as quickly and efficiently as possible within the right context. ISS encompasses community features, such as public forums, blogs and also knowledge base, chatbots, automated telephony, intelligent virtual assistants and more, powered by an open, modular Artificial Intelligence (AI) engine.
ISS connects the customer journey from self-service to assisted service, with a trusted community, intelligent virtual assistant and voice self-service – with valuable knowledge management resources, connecting your customers and employees across both phone and digital channels.
But don’t worry too much - ISS is not designed to replace assisted service entirely. According to Gartner: “By 2022, it will be far more common for a video-based customer support agent to also share the user interface, or for a chatbot to be used by the customer support agent while conversing with the customer. Verint expects the interaction proportions of human and artificial agents to be 36% human agent intervention/participation and 85% software (a combination of self-service and software used simultaneous with the human agent engagement).” Of that figure, 64% will be completely customer self-service and an additional 21% will include some level of agent-assisted self-service. (Source: Gartner, “Plan Now for Critical Shifts in Customer Interaction Patterns,” June 27, 2017).
Self-service solutions are also becoming more intelligent with new AI technology and analytics. Virtual assistant technology is projected to play an increasing role in this shift, making automation a key enabler to smart, anytime service that increases first contact resolution, reduces contact volumes that escalate to agents, and frees employees to focus on more complex engagement that requires a human touch.
In fact, according to Forrester, “Companies that master the interplay between AI, automation and human relationships will dominate their industries." (Source: Forrester, “Five Key CRM Trends for 2018 That Shape How Companies Drive Relationship and Revenue” Vision: The CRM Playbook, January 16, 2018.)
How customers engage with you should be their choice. Sharing customer intelligence with your agents empowers employees to to recognise the customer and the intent of their calls – it reduces handle time and makes the engagement better for everyone. Customer data and caller intent is transferred and integrated into the agent’s desktop. The agent resolves enquiries faster, with knowledge management articles and scripts at their fingertips.
In a community, customer engage directly with your valuable resources and their peers all at their own pace. Community and knowledge-based articles help customers find exactly what they need – it builds loyalty. Customers can engage with the customer support team to ask questions gamification drives even more engagement – by encouraging customers to help others by answering questions, or even asking questions themselves, by rewards and points, badges and recognition. Shared intelligence lets the customer get personal with the organisations virtual assistant to get the right help, one on one. This mirrors a live agent engagement - it understands context and predicts the intent of responses to achieve resolutions quickly for the customer.
By offering shared intelligence across channels and your enterprise, you can offer continued customer value. Everyone wants easy and convenient self-service. Businesses are under pressure to meet these needs. It takes real time intelligence to remain competitive and drive growth, but intelligence alone is useless without it being actionable.
ISS offers customers solutions to simplify, modernise and automate customer engagement, including strong AI-based self-service solutions across both voice and digital channels, powering collaboration and enabling smarter, faster decisions that drive better customer and business outcomes
It automates decision making, improves engagement across channels, understands context and personalises interactions and proactively addresses customer needs before they become issues, boosting efficiencies that lead to real business results.
The road ahead
4 Roads is working with companies who are investing in self-service channels and looking to seamlessly integrate them into the user journey. Components of the self-service solution include community, knowledge management, intelligent virtual assistants and voice search. Enhancements such as natural language understanding, speech recognition and virtual assistants can help you understand users’ inquiries and guide them to the best answers available.
For example, Nordic Semiconductor rolled at an online community and integrated a support system to aid customers and reduce the burden on support engineers; while Cherwell Software created a seamless online experience through the development of a support community and a community driven marketplace.
While self-service success is a journey, there is real ROI from which you can be benefiting from in the near term – but you’ve got to take the first step. Evaluate your options, get started, experiment and move quickly. You’re leaving money on the table with every day that passes operating on a legacy system.
Robert Nash is chief executive officer at 4 Roads