While chat, text, and social media are all the rage in customer service, consumers are actually turning back to voice as their favorite way to communicate with companies. The emergence of popular digital assistants like Google Home, Alexa, and Siri ignited this shift. Machines had long been the death knell of customer service – we humans were frustrated by their inaccurate speech recognition and the ultra-specific phrasings they required. But now, fully conversational AI (artificial intelligence) in the form of consumer facing devices is altering our attitudes about advanced speech recognition technology and the traditional voice channel.

These recent developments have changed the way consumers anticipate customer service to work, putting an increased level of expectation on self-service systems. Everyone today – especially millennials – are not just comfortable with talking to AI platforms, they expect to talk to them. We enjoy the ease with which AI allows us to complete tasks ourselves. So, now is the time for companies who have been avoiding the buggy robot stereotype to re-examine their self-service strategy.

Some businesses, though, are reluctant to automate their customer service even with this new embrace of AI and self-service. After all, your customers may expect an automated customer service line to work as well as the virtual assistant in their living room, but actually integrating one with your existing systems is much more complicated than a $50 Amazon purchase. In the end, customers don’t care about costs and logistics – they just want to accomplish their goals as quickly and as effortlessly as possible.

A Smart, Cost-Effective Approach to AI

Luckily, if your organization goes about its self-service transformation smartly, it too can reach these technology-forward customers. You don’t have to tear down your entire system and start from scratch. Instead, identify where your business can incrementally augment your system with AI by finding the processes that are best suited for automation. These are often the complex but repeatable inquiries that bog down live agents. Traditional IVRs could not handle these tasks whereas more advanced AI can emulate the work of humans.

Companies also avoid self-service transformations because they envision costly, time-intensive changes to each of their customers’ other lines of communication, whether that be SMS, social, or mobile. Instead, picture an all-inclusive solution that is front-ended by AI-powered voice and back-ended by live agents, and that shares information across all of your company’s offerings. This approach not only feeds customers’ preference for voice, but creates a streamlined, familiar, and cohesive experience for customers and allows your live agents to be more efficient.

Voice is the most natural form of communication. Conversational AI is the next generation of customer support on the phone because if machines can understand humans, there is no better interface on which to build your self-service system. Every day leading brands are deploying new intelligent self-service solutions to automate their contact centers and give customers the experiences they want.

EPIC Connections and SmartAction are helping organizations navigate the AI journey. A new guide has just been developed that details the five best practices for success in a self-service strategy powered by AIDownload the guide to explore how AI can enhance your call center, how to distinguish which processes to automate, how to design the ideal self-service system, and how to manage expectations.

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