Back in the day my grandfather used to trust his old alarm clock to wake him up. I on the other hand choose to trust the lady who lives in my phone. It knows more about me than most of my friends. ‘Virtual Assistants’ are the modern day alarm clock and so much more. And, they are here to stay.
While most consumers are capable of navigating to their need on their handsets, Siri adds a personal touch to the entire experience. Customer service today has become more about the experience than just a functionality. Which is why we also have Cortana, Alexa, Google Now or for that matter ‘M’ being built by Facebook recently. If we dig a little deeper, we realize that most of these helplines are utilizing nothing but the concept of natural language user interface. Which makes me wonder what is stopping us from utilizing this concept in the Contact Center space?
Interactive text response or Natural language processing may sound like complex terms to a layman’s mind. But their utilization is not a far-fetched reality. How about using these concepts to develop an application over SMS and publishing a universal number for Self-Service? Allow customers to do a one-time authentication and lo, they have their own text assistant to solve any of their queries! All they could do is type in what they want, e.g.: In a banking scenario they could ask, “What are the loan schemes you provide?” or “Can I get a new cheque book?” Connecting these applications to the correct backend systems can easily have these queries processed. What’s more, customers can choose to type in or even speak (using speak to type feature available on phones) whatever their queries are in their own natural talking lingo and soon this medium is no different than any of the virtual assistants available today!
With the changing trends in consumer patterns today it becomes essential to identify their choice of interaction media. This could be text or any of the social platforms they regularly engage on. Utilizing this information as a base for ITR can help develop what I would call, ‘a brand new concept’, and not merely a solution that redefines customer service.
Constant emphasis is laid on self service solutions in a contact center. Allowing customers to address their requests on their own reduces cost to the contact center and removes unnecessary wait times to reach an agent. The question has never been whether self- service should be the front runner or not. The question has always been how to make it more engaging and attractive to consumers so that they actually enjoy and feel confident approaching a business and do not run away from it.
Re-branding the entire customer service space by providing “personal assistants” using ITR could just be the next revolution.
What’s more the millennials are totally inclined to texting than calling. Give your text assistant a cool name and hand it to the youth. Let them feel they have the weapon to know and exhibit what they want. Allow them to flaunt it, so that they may want it. With a large number of the purchasing power population now technically savvy and socially aware, such a product will fit seamlessly into their lives.
The future of customer service is in convincing the consumers that the answers they seek lie right in the confines of their palms. With the right personal touch and ingenuity, it’s not hard to see ‘virtual assistants’ as the core of customer service in the Internet age.
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