Customer_ServiceAlthough this may sound a bit futuristic and far-fetched – it’s already here

Customer services have come a long way since the 1990s. Back then, customers would have walked into a physical store for a real person to help them with their problem. Now, in the machine era, we can avoid talking to anybody at all by using services that allow us to serve ourselves or allow a robot to take our calls and respond to our queries.

To reach this evolution, technologies, solutions, platforms and applications had to work together. It’s hard to predict what the innovations of tomorrow could be – in the 90s, not many people would have thought we’d have the world at our fingertips in a smartphone. What we can predict, and what we are already seeing, is the impact of certain set of technologies which are underpinning all current innovation – known as the ‘Triple A’ of customer service: Analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Automation.

Analytics: Beyond ‘training and quality purposes’

Call centres possess a goldmine of data collected from recorded calls, usually just being used for ‘quality and training purposes’. This data just sits idly on disks and tapes. The opportunity and potential that this data can provide in customer satisfaction and revenue generation has just been discovered by enterprises. Correlations and insights that would normally be completely obscured can be opened by companies applying analytics, for example:

  • Speech to text: Old recorded conversations can be converted to text by applying speech and text analytics to see what customers said, spot opportunities, and build patterns and trends. Enterprises can then use this information to respond to what’s happening out there in real time, based on the detailed contextual analysis of thousands of calls, swinging this to a proactive mode approach from a reactive one.
  • Social chatter: There is no logic, pattern or sequence going on in the virtual world despite how much is happening there. The data from social media truly adheres to the definitions of the ‘three Vs’ of big data; velocity, variety, and volume. It’s a challenge, but if business’s can tame this unstructured data, they can know what topics are trending in real-time and understand mass customer sentiment. Promotions can then be tailored and targeted and potential issues can be mitigated.
  • Customer analytics: This gives you a 360-degree view of your customer, their preferences, demographics, history of interactions, prejudices, patterns and styles of individual customers. From this, predictions can be made on issues that they may face, the reason why they reach out and it also enables the up-selling and cross-selling of personalised treatments and offers.

Automation: Making feedback and insights work

While the eye-catching and personal offers that analytics provide can pull a customer to a site, if the customer cannot find the specific offer that enticed them when they get there – that experience falls. This is one of the most common frustrations for online shoppers. It is essential that insights are followed up in a dynamically automated manner otherwise they are only as good as the data that was stored in disks and tapes in the former era.

To apply the real benefit of owning an analytics solution, the insights that are transformed to business rules and actions must be populated on all channels of interaction. This can be done using sophisticated self-service solutions and collaboration tools that take the burden away from customer service agents. Organisations can track quality and analyse performance with the use of powerful management tools. Using systems that learn and grow from human interaction is something that customer service agents must be trained to use so they are provided with fast, accurate answers to customer queries. This then results in complete and quick resolution, relevant interactions, satisfied customers, and motivated agents.

Artificial Intelligence: Humans and machines working together

Everyone has had the experience of having to speak to an endless automated line, refusing to put you through to a person. But automated services have come a long way, largely due to Artificial Intelligence. The more that we use online services, the better AI gets at imitating human interactions, thus improving the customer experience. In some instances, people would much rather use a machine than deal with a human – self-service checkouts, chatbots and online banking being good examples of this.

AI-driven automated services are learning from humans constantly. Building this knowledge from one-to-one interactions over the web, forums and blogs, self-service systems and much more. Over time these systems improve from all the listening and learning that they have been doing, and begin refining processes and finding better ways to do things by using AI built on machine learning. This simplification can lead to reductions in training costs and call time and virtually eliminate the after-call work documentation, lifting the job satisfaction rate tenfold. Organisations can do more with less when humans and machines work together.

Grade A customer service

The ‘Triple A’ revolution is already here and is changing the world around us without us really noticing. Businesses can now process large numbers of transactions in a consistent, common, repeatable way; meeting the growing demands of customers. It is predicted that by 2020, 85 percent of non-voice interactions will have grown from the 55 percent that it is now. A consistent customer experience is created by harnessing this knowledge and expertise from customer agents and using that in the omnichannel.

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