Self Service in the age of bots

 Self Service

We live on a spinning rock. It catapults us at 1,600 km/p/hr. It’s speed is a constraint reminder of the rate of change we live with. Alvin Toffler’s 1970 book Future Shock tell the story of a man becoming lost on a trip to the corner store because the environment has changed around them. Change is so rapid  they can no longer recognized their landmarks. It is a warning not necessarily of the rate of change but our ability to absorb it.

This is now the world we live in. The way customer interact with us has changed, they now expect to engage with us 24/7 and government is no exception. Gone are the 9 to 4.30pm open hours.

“Go digital or fall behind” is true for the simple fact that digital is always on, it is the way we can meet our 24/7 objectives.

But this was not always the case. In the early days of electricity homes only had access to in the evening. This limited innovation for machines such as refrigeration. It was only when electricity become “always connected” that we were truly able to innovate.

In the beginning of the internet we dialed up and connected with limited download speed and access. We were fixed to a desktop and immobile.

With the evolution of broadband we moved into a world where we are always connect and with mobile internet and wireless we are no longer constrained to a desktop but are mobile.

This has seen us move beyond physical and digital spaces into what I call phygital, the use of digital in physical spaces and combined customer experiences.

If you’ve been into a Service NSW or Medicare you can see it with the use of a concierge directing/assisting people to resolve their problem. Sometimes they direct them to a Agent and sometimes they direct them to a self service kiosk or PC to resolve their issue.

The experience is something that comes from the growing movement towards Service Design. What is Service Design – the idea is that all business processes and customer interactions are designed to fulfil customer goals across all channels from face to face to digital. The objective of good design is to present an even experience across all channels. And a sign of success is a customer’s ability to start an interaction in one channel and move to another seamlessly.

To architect the experience we need to create a customer experience platform both as a process and technology platform. The power of technology is its ability to bring the channels together (Contact Centres, Digital – web, email, chat, social and In-store) to manage the customer experience by connecting the technology platforms – Contact Centre Platform, CRM, Order Management, Payments, Knowledge Base etc. By doing this, in some cases we’ve grown the possibilities of self-service to allow customer to complete a transaction end to end.

The degree to which we move customers from service to self service varies from product or service to the ability of our customers to change but the benefits are clear, reduce cost to service, increase speed to service, empower the customer, etc

At DoE we are at the very beginning of the journey.

We are putting the foundations in for our digital platform as we roll out a new content management system and redevelop public website and intranet.

A key part of the approach is to use user centred design (UCD) that includes research (e.g. best practice reviews and ethnographic or behavioral studies) and concepting or ideation with a broad range of disciplines to create designs and validate these designs through Proof of Concepts and user feedback.

6 Key Factors to Self Service

  1. Self Service is something that the customer needs to choose but a well designed service can be directed customer to self serve. This can be achieved in any channel from IVR/NLRS (Natural Language Retrieval System) to digital.
  1. The use of a virtual assistant is being used to promote customer self service and can guide people to use such tools as a knowledge base without being aware of it. This is most often done via a chat window.
  1. CSR/Agent Knowledge Bases are being opened up to customers to ensure the service and self service experience are the same.
  1. Self Service Help needs to be contextual. Essentially if someone is filling out a form or transacting and needs help, support should be within the page and context of the transaction.
  1. Video support is increasing in use to allow customers to self service and resolve support issues. Ideally this would be available in context and in a customers environment. For example Xerox enables the technical support workforce to learn at the moment of need by accessing specific video from their mobiles (triggered from the copier devise)
  1. If self service fails a customer they should be handed off smoothly to a real agent along with their browsing history. Handoffs are also being heightened with the use of co-browsing (allowing the agent to connect up to a customer’s browser window, see the customer’s web page and mouse cursor, and interact with the web page in real-time). This also includes the ability move between channels and self service to service.

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