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), airport-style kiosk computers and chatbots (although it does include all three); this is self-service where organizations have worked to build automation layers into their business so that self-service ‘tickets’ for IT Service Management (ITSM) 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 service organizations’ interest levels towards platforms that can effectively replace the interactions currently being handled by real human beings.
A recent 2019 survey suggests that 88% of companies believe ‘self-service’ will be the fastest growing channel in customer service by 2021.
The report would also 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 ‘an intuitive and accurate knowledge or data transfer’ (64%) with ‘speed of case resolution’ (62%) only third most important.
In other words, first-time resolution by a process 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 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.
Sarah Assous, SVP of marketing at Zoovu, an AI conversational marketing platform company said, “The channels where customer and 3rd party vendor interactions take place are evolving along with technological and cultural shifts. The vast majority of respondents in this survey expect self-service volumes to increase over the next two years. It makes sense: as primarily digital consumers and other integrated users establish more buying power, they are also demanding comprehensive digital support. Today, it’s more important than ever for businesses to adapt to a globalized economy and serve their customers quickly and cost-effectively.”
Assous also reminds us that self-service offerings can be particularly beneficial for small and medium-sized businesses. She says that SMBs with limited resources and budgets can utilize self-service digital technologies to stay competitive and reach the needs and wants of their consumers and vendor audiences.
This article was first published in Forbes.com