4 things to think about when developing a self-service solution

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These days, consumers don’t always want to spend time chatting to an agent when they have a relatively straightforward issue to be solved. Although phone channels remain an indispensable part of any contact centre’s strategy, there are times when it’s faster and easier to let customers handle things on their own terms.

Whether it’s because people want to get something sorted outside working hours or are just in a rush, a strong self-service platform is an essential part of today’s omni-channel environment. But what do you need to make this work? I’ve put together a few key things that you’ll have to have if you want self-service to be an asset and not an irritant.

Smart text responses

One solution that needs to be a part of any good self-service channel these days is interactive text response (ITR) tools. So-called ‘chat bots’ have been around a while, but have always had a robotic feel to them, with limited capabilities requiring users to enter specific phrases.

But today’s tools offer much more flexibility, and can be easily integrated into channels such as outbound SMS messaging. So, for example, if you send out an automated reminder to a customer via text, they can respond directly and the ITR system will be able to use natural language processing to interpret it and act accordingly, giving an instant response without human intervention.

Mobile capabilities

An SMS ITR solution is far from the only way to incorporate mobile into a contact centre’s self-service solutions. Although we often talk about ‘mobile’ as if it is a single channel, in actual fact, there are a range of ways consumers can choose to get in touch through their smartphone or tablet. Voice, SMS, a website or a dedicated app all need to be taken into account, and each will have different requirements.

For self-service, being able to develop a custom application can give customers a much wider range of functionality than just voice calls, and even incorporate mobile technology such as location services to give users a richer customer experience.

Using social channels

Many companies now recognise social as a key channel for the contact centre, but for some of these, they don’t look beyond using it as another way for customers to get in touch with a live agent, or fielding complaints via the likes of Twitter.

But it can also be a great self-service channel through technology such as ITR. Integrating these capabilities into tools like Facebook Messenger is a fantastic way to allow users to complete tasks such as paying bills or checking up on the progress of an order. As most people use this platform every day, there’s no learning curve or need to install an additional app.

Having a backup

Sooner or later, no matter how effective and capable your self-service solutions are, they’re going to reach the limits of what can be done without human intervention. And knowing when it’s time for a skilled agent to step in and take over is as important a step as any other.

Crucially, the key here is to make sure that the transition from self-service channels to a human interaction is as seamless as possible, so consumers should be able to jump from one to the other in an instant.

For example, if a consumer is using an ITR channel, it should be easy for an agent to step in and continue the conversation exactly where the technology leaves off, in the same window. Or, if it’s preferable to take the interaction to a phone call, there should be no need for the user to repeat information or go through additional verification steps.

Learn more about Aspect’s self-service contact centre solutions

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Stephen Ball

Steve Joined Aspect in December 2015 with responsibility for the Europe & Africa region.

Steve has held leadership roles in Computacenter, EMC, Orange, and most recently as RVP for Hitachi Data Systems, where he was responsible for leading HDS regional restructure and Transformation, succeeding in driving growth and market share.

Steve is passionate about delivering world class Customer Service, Technology and hiring and developing great people. He believes how you engage with your customer defines the success of any business, with the client demanding ease of interaction, when they want it and how they want it.

With a simple view that focusses on these three areas, Aspect is ideally positioned to accelerate its growth and Market share. Steve is working with the EA leadership team to create a plan and vision for Aspect EA that underpins the competitive advantage that the Aspect suite of software provides to its clients.
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