As with all technology-based things, call centers have changed dramatically over the years. Their options and capabilities have grown exponentially, in part due to artificial intelligence (AI) and self-service strategies. These tools allow greater flexibility for customers while assisting agents in making the best possible decisions in the shortest amount of time.
Self-service includes any routine tasks or information access that does not require contacting a customer service representative. Some self-service tasks are so normalized that we don’t even think of them as “self-service”. For example, setting your own password, automatically paying bills, and tracking packages are all capabilities that we expect to have without needing to call someone. Today, the range of self-service tasks is growing at a steady pace with the help of innovative technology.
A Preference for Independence
When customers have a problem, many of them will opt to try every method available to solve it themselves before resorting to calling a live agent. They first check the company website for helpful tips or maybe check forums for pre-answered questions. Calling is often at the end of the list of options because they expect it to be a relatively slow process that might not even give fruitful results.
The rising expectation of customers is immediate and accurate response and service. Through the use of AI, customers can now turn to more interactive options that tailor to their specific problem. Chatbots and virtual assistants can help them navigate websites more efficiently and provide direct answers to any specific (but common) questions they might have. AI also makes talking to a service representative less daunting by improving the agent’s back-end capabilities.
Contributions of AI
An independent AI can take care of automating high-volume, simple, and repetitive tasks. Such an AI will often work on customer service functions in a pattern of classification, followed by routing, and ultimately resolution. Classification is the process of identifying the customer’s problem, and routing is the transfer of the case to the appropriate entity for solving the problem. The AI might determine that the case is too complicated for it and transfer the case to a human. But otherwise, it continues to the resolution of the case by solving the problem itself.
In the case that the AI hands a customer over to a call center representative, it can still assist the agent in finding solutions to more complicated problems by presenting all the relevant information about the customer and their issue. In this way, the agent does not have to dig through the system for information, thus facilitating quick and accurate decisions during the call.
On the business side, AI can help companies to simultaneously cut costs and expand service. Self-service AI can handle huge quantities of queries at any given moment, freeing up time and resources for other priorities. However, when incorporating both AI and self-service into your business model, you maintain a human-centered perspective, keeping the customer’s needs front and center.