Customer Experience (CX) as a term may have many definitions, but it is generally accepted that it is all about creating personalized, seamless, low-effort customer interactions. By its very nature, CX takes a holistic view. It isn’t focused on just self-service or just agent engagement because customers no longer need to make a binary decision on using one form of service over the other. Instead, self-service and assisted service are deeply intertwined, so much so that a single customer interaction can span both channels, multiple times.
While there has been a push of late to improve self-service, the most successful CX initiatives are those that recognize the importance of simultaneously improving contact center agent engagement. The same advances that powered self-service—Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Personalization, Chatbots—all of these are now being applied to the assisted-service channel, giving organizations the ability to deliver a unique hybrid of robot and human automation to fully support customer service complexities.
Assisted service is still about the human touch, but working in tandem with automation to tackle increasingly complex customer interactions. Think of it as “Intelligent Agent Engagement.” Robots working side-by-side with the agent to automate mundane and repetitive tasks, retrieve information from different systems and provide real-time process guidance. Free from product and system complexity, the agent can now focus on the customer and provide deeper, more meaningful engagements.
Within the broader domain of CX technology, there has been perhaps no greater technological advancement than self-service products and solutions. Thanks to unprecedented hype—over-promising and under-delivering—consumers are wary of self-service solutions. While the nefarious “phone tree” (IVR) certainly takes some of the blame, customers are growing increasingly frustrated with poor chatbot solutions.
That being said, modern consumers want to self-service if they can do so in an efficient and effective manner. After all, self-service done right can be the lowest effort channel available to a customer. Intelligent self-service is the new generation of self-service to incorporate the latest AI, Natural Language Understanding (NLU) and robotic automation technologies to create customer service interactions that are effectively serviced by bots capable of understanding the customer’s intent and lead the customer all the way to the resolution of their inquiry.
Virtual Customer Assistants
Virtual Customer Assistants (VCAs) are perhaps the most widely known self-service solution despite being the newest technology. This is in part due to the hype, but largely due to the tremendous achievements and success that chatbots are delivering. Virtual customer assistants allow a customer to be engaged in a manner that is more natural and more transactional than simply searching through a knowledge base could ever be. Typical VCAs can be either workflow-based, AI-based or a combination of both.
Customer Service RPA
Customer Service Robotic Process Automation (CSRPA) has been gaining momentum as it continues to demonstrate its ability to drive efficiency into both front-office (contact center) and back-office processes. Automation with a human touch, or Intelligent Automation, is what makes CSRPA stand apart in the saturated RPA market, and is a key enabler of end-to-end customer service automation for both customer self-service and agent-assisted service interactions. These interactions typically begin with digital self-service engagements that reduce customer efforts and then enable automation for agents, which reduces complexity, amplifies productivity and improves customer experience. Intelligent Automation enables true transactional VCAs in the self-service channel and turns agents into subject-matter experts in the call center—creating personalized, seamless, low-effort customer interactions.
Creating a seamless CX with self-service starts with technology born out of the contact center. And although the end result may be delivered in a variety of channels that are outside of your jurisdiction, never forget the human touch and always be prepared to simultaneously improve agent engagement.