Keeping up With Changing Customer Service: Intelligent Assistance

Steven Ball of Aspect Software introduces the new age of chatbots and how forward-thinking organisations are beginning to use intelligent assistance in the contact centre.

Soon, gone will be the days of the clunky chatbot that hijacks your browser and spams you with pre-prepared queries and answers. These types of chatbots are dull in conversation and do an excellent job of avoiding customers’ problems while leaving users feeling frustrated and side-lined.

Thankfully, technology is changing the way that these robots are engaging with people, making interactions truly personable and productive. Through a combination of machine learning and natural language understanding, newer, smarter chatbots are being used that mimic human speech and stimulate natural conversation. These intelligent chatbots are able to do this all while capturing data and learning about their customers’ preferences. In this way, they can provide better service to customers in future interactions.

The technology is truly changing what we know and understand about customer service, offering consumers resolutions at unprecedented speed and convenience. These robots operate 24/7, dealing with customers’ enquiries in real time and acting more like a virtual intelligent assistant than a robot.

Through traditional means of communication, customers can spend what feels like a lifetime before they are assigned a real person to deal with their query. Chatbots, on the other hand, offer instant gratification, eliminating the need for customers to listen to several loops of soul-crushing music on hold. These benefits are obvious, but couldn’t be more relevant to the changing needs of the modern consumer.

Research shows that modern customers – particularly millennials – are becoming increasingly impatient and expecting of fast, efficient and personable service. 30% of millennials, for example, expect a customer service response within ten minutes when they contact a company via social media.

Once more, customers are increasingly expecting service to be provided through a choice of mobile channels. Our 2017 Consumer Experience Index showed that two-thirds would choose to be served through text-based channels over speaking with a live person over the phone. This comes down to sheer convenience, as these conversations can be had on the same messaging devices that people use every day. It is clear that to many consumers today, the traditional, over-the-phone means of customer care seems outdated and redundant.

Business is also quickly waking up to the advancements in these technologies along with the vast resource and cost-saving opportunities that come with them. Research by Gartner suggests that by 2020, use of these virtual customer assistants will jump by 1,000%.

But in order to take full advantage of these opportunities while upholding the highest standards of customer service, organisations must first ensure that they have the right technological infrastructure in place. Customers want the most human experience possible, and this means providing a seamless, enjoyable experience from start to finish.

Chatbots cannot resolve all issues, and real human interaction will always play a pivotal role in customer service. Systems must therefore enable customer queries to be passed on smoothly from self-service to call centre assistance, without complication or loss of context.

Customers are already extremely intolerant of errors that hinder a smooth experience, and they have rising expectations for self-service systems to work like a human and understand their previous history with the organisation. This is why the best chatbot systems must work in line with an overarching omnichannel customer strategy.

If conversations are passed from a chatbot to a real person with ease, customers are more likely to feel listened to and valued by the brand that they are engaging with. This enables businesses to truly differentiate themselves from their competition, as productive, automated self-service can be offered while upholding the human aspect of customer engagement at all times.

Technology is fast changing the ways in which organisations engage with customers, enabling better relationships to be formed and issues to be dealt with in the most efficient manner possible. These developments cannot be ignored as they are rapidly becoming the norm and are being embraced by organisations of all sizes. Those organisations that delay adoption risk falling behind and isolating themselves from loyal customers that are increasingly exposed to such high standards of service.

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Published On: 2nd Mar 2018 - Last modified: 26th Feb 2019
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