Is self-service better than assisted service for IVR solutions? What’s the point of choosing one over the other? As technology advances and customer expectations change, these two previously disparate solutions are increasingly working together. There is more to getting the recipe right than simply combining the various systems.
As companies try to improve customer service and keep costs low, the line between self-service and assisted service is becoming increasingly blurred. Furthermore, there is a wide range of opinions about where one approach ends and the other begins. The best way to understand today’s landscape is by taking a look back at where the industry has been.
During the past three decades or so, interactive voice response (IVR) systems have evolved many times as self-service systems. Assistive services were supposed to be replaced by them. It was supposed to relieve agents of the stress and volume of calls.
In those formative years, customers often helped themselves via self-service tools, but they weren’t always satisfied with their experience. Using traditional self-service with trees takes a long time, and they have never really worked for most people. Despite the good response to IVRs, callers often shifted back to assisted service due to their poor perception of IVR service providers in India.
Today’s self-service is much more conversational in nature. It is more common for the systems to resolve someone’s problem without ever having to contact a human, whether it is a text conversation, web chat conversation, phone call, or talking to a smart speaker.
Conversely, assisted service occurs when a human joins the conversational system to either help get the task done or take over the transaction entirely. There are times when an automated system cannot answer a question, but a human can push it along, correct it in the middle of the conversation, or even answer the question.
Boosting Results Through a Blended Approach
The combination of self-service and assisted service can have a substantial impact on both the brands and consumers they serve. There is one advantage that comes from being able to offer a support structure that is far more seamless than in the past, which is an advantage.
In the past, customers have had quite a disconnected experience across channels and touchpoints as far as their customer experience is concerned. An example of this would be when a customer calls a utility provider to inquire about service and is asked to repeat account numbers and other details more than once.
When you combine self-service through a chatbot, for example, with assisted service, you can pass your customer’s information from their self-service experience to their agent experience without them having to repeat it to the agent, so they don’t have to answer the same questions each time.
AI with Human: A Best of Both Worlds
Using self-service and assisted service in conjunction is the best approach. Several reasons can be cited, including the fact that each platform may not be able to fulfill every customer request individually.
Chatbots are a good example. There is a misconception that you can create software that answers every question, but that’s not the case. Technology may still not be able to do everything a human agent can. Even when an enterprise mimics its best-performing human agent, there may be things the technology can’t do.
It’s impossible to write software to handle something an agent doesn’t understand. As some customer questions and issues are complex, a blended approach will smooth those gaps and improve the customer experience. It is almost inevitable that consumers will have a problem or ask a question that the software is unable to answer. An agent should be able to assist you very easily in that situation.
A growing number of companies are making use of Big Data to enhance customer experiences. As companies already collect a lot of information, they are better able to improve the self-service and assisted service experiences through the use of existing data. It is normal for enterprises to have a lot of information about their customers.
As long as customers see a benefit in the data collection efforts, they are more comfortable with the practice. As part of that, we aim to provide a more personalized, frictionless service experience. In order to avoid repetition, they want to avoid repeating themselves. It is important for companies to take advantage of that context to assist customers in achieving their goals more quickly and efficiently.
The concept applies equally to self-service and assisted service, and by leveraging information across both portals, Big Data can be used more effectively and efficiently. As customers get older, they are less concerned about whether they are talking to a human or a bot; they just want to get things done quickly and easily.