Robust self-service platform now essential in the modern customer engagement centre, says Aspect
Customer engagement centres must develop a robust self-service platform in order to deliver a strong customer experience and deliver an effective omni-channel experience. This is according to Stephen Ball of Aspect Software, a global provider of fully-integrated consumer engagement, workforce optimisation and self-service solutions.
According to Ball, who is senior VP Europe & Africa at Aspect, the ability to self-serve first is becoming increasingly expected as standard by consumers of all groups. He said: “These days, consumers don’t always want to spend time chatting to a customer services agent when they have a relatively straightforward issue to solve. Although phone channels remain an indispensable part of any customer engagement centre’s strategy, there are times when it’s faster and easier to let customers handle things on their own terms.”
At the basic level, self-service can be provisioned with an interactive text response (ITR) tool, but they typically have a robotic feel to them, with limited capabilities requiring users to enter specific phrases. Ball suggests that more flexible tools can be easily integrated into channels such as outbound SMS.
He said: “For example, a customer can respond directly to an automated text reminder 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.”
Beyond SMS ITR, there are also other ways to incorporate mobile into a customer engagement centre’s self-service solutions. Due to mobile’s ‘multi-channel’ nature, 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 overall customer experience.
Many companies now recognise social as a key channel for the customer engagement 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, Ball claims.
“Social media can be a great self-service channel through technology such as ITR,” he said. “Integrating these capabilities into the customer engagement centre is a fantastic way to enable 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.”
Even with effective and capable self-service solutions, organisations must also consider the human interaction element. Ball believes that the transition from self-service channels to a human interaction should be as seamless as possible, to ensure a consistent experience.
He commented: “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.
“By taking these key points into consideration when implementing a self-service option, organisations can be assured that their customers are receiving the right amount of support with their query. Making the process as smooth and efficient as possible is vital to retaining satisfied customers,” concluded Ball.
The author of this blog is Stephen Ball, senior VP Europe & Africa at Aspect
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