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AI-Powered Self-Service: Exploring the Future of Customer Independence

June 3, 2024 eye-glyph 78

Table of Contents

    Would you rather:

    • Spend 15 minutes on hold with your bank to reset your forgotten e-banking password. (As per Deloitte, the average hold time on a customer service call in the USA is 13 minutes, but it can feel like an eternity when you are in a hurry.)


    • Use a secure AI chatbot that immediately verifies your identity and helps you reset your passwords in just two minutes.

    Well, we all are running over the clocks and AI chatbot will definitely be everyone’s preference. (Want to know why: Because you have got a little exposure to AI-powered self services and are about to get a lot in this blog).

    This is where you will know that the future of customer service is under transformation, and AI is giving you all control rather than taking it away.

    Let’s see how.

    What is an AI-powered Self-Service?

    AI-powered self-service uses artificial intelligence to automate a plethora of tasks. It combines various technologies, such as chatbots, Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine Learning, and intent recognition.

    When you access an online self-service portal, a chatbot engages with you, understanding your queries and performing the necessary actions.

    Conversational AI is at the heart of this system. It provides a natural and interactive way for you to navigate the platform. Chatbots translate human conversations, allowing customers to ask questions or perform tasks using conversational language.

    Let’s understand it this way: You log in to a bank self-service portal to check your account balance. Now, you can simply type your query: What is my current account balance? The chatbot will perceive your request, retrieve the relevant information from backend systems, and reply with: Your current account balance is $5600.

    And this is all taking place in real-time, offering customers a smooth, easy, and direct experience.

    The Allure of Customer Independence: Benefits of Using AI-powered Self-services

    Customer service is moving ahead from traditional frowns, and AI is actually winning big with its self-service models and giving both customers and businesses a good time:

    The following are some benefits of AI-powered Self Services:

    1. Reduced Contact Center Volume: Fewer Frustrated Calls, More Happy Customers

    Customers often dial the customer service center even for a simple query, which is both time-consuming and, at times, frustrating for both customers and support agents. AI chatbots can handle these common inquiries, freeing up human agents to deal with more complex issues.

    For instance, Sephora’s AI chatbot, Ora, is dedicated to millennials and available 24/7. It is competent enough to handle a wide range of questions. These questions can revolve around product availability, order tracking, frequent shopper points, personalized content, the latest trends catchup, or beauty coaching via tutorial videos and tips.

    This chatbot is linked to Salesforce Service Cloud, allowing customers to escalate their issues whenever human attention seems necessary.

    2. Cost-Effective Support: More Help, Less Spending

    You can keep building a huge customer service team even for handling mere query-addressing jobs and burning your budgets all you want. But is it really cost affection solution? No worries. AI-powered self-services have got a smarter way out of this.

    Have you heard of Bank of America’s Erica? It is an AI virtual assistant that helps customers with tasks like checking balances, transferring funds, and resolving simple disputes right from their bank’s mobile app. Erica can handle many inquiries simultaneously, reducing the need to employ additional agents at peak hours. Plus, AI doesn’t require vacations or benefits, providing consistent 24/7 support at a fraction of the cost.

    3. Empowering Customers: Convenience and Speed For Maximum Satisfaction

    Let’s be honest here: the advancement of technologies is taking away customers’ patience. They look for immediate attention and issue resolution. Humans may excel in their jobs, but AI-based models can offer basic help. They will deliver the speed and convenience that customers come looking for.

    Aetna, an American-managed health insurance provider, has employed its AI virtual assistant, Ann, to answer basic questions about plan coverage, claim status, and network providers. This smart assistant guides customers in accessing information quickly and efficiently without waiting on hold for a representative. Getting answers on their terms leads to a more positive customer experience. Ann handles more than 2,500 chat sessions every day.

    4. Always There, Always Available: 24/7 Support Makes a Difference

    Customers can need attention, sometimes at odd hours. It’s not necessary to keep your staff-wide awake through the night when AI is already offering round-the-clock assistance.

    Xiao Xi, Hilton Hotel’s AI customer service chatbot, is a 24/7 travel companion available through Hilton China mobile apps (iOS, Android, and WeChat Mini Program). It details your booked Hilton stays, such as amenities, check-in times, or restaurant options. Xiao Xi can access your reservation and provide all the information you need. It can tap into its local knowledge base and recommend attractions and restaurants or even help translate critical phrases for a smoother experience. Xiao Xi can offer insightful travel tips and keep you updated on current promotions or special offers available at Hilton hotels.

    The Future of Customer Independence: Top 5 AI-powered Self-Services

    Let’s dive into the top 5 AI technologies hyping their best in self-service and explore how they’re redefining the future of customer independence.

    1. Virtual Assistants: Your 24/7 Conversational Companions

    PwC found that 40% of consumers already use voice assistants to access information and complete tasks. Virtual Assistants are chatbots that can handle multiple interactions from simple inquiries about account balances like Chase Bank’s virtual assistant to help you find the best investment options, KLM’s chatbot to guide you travel booking process, or even troubleshooting technical problems where Xfinity’s AI assistant shines by helping diagnose internet connection issues.

    Virtual assistants offer constant availability, minimizing dependency on customer service agents during off-peak hours. They provide consistent and accurate information and personalize interactions based on past chat history, behavior, and preferences, creating a more engaging customer experience.

    Salesforce also launched its own Einstein ChatBots to make customer interactions convenient, engage customers in natural conversations, answer questions, and resolve simple issues. This platform empowers customers to get the help they need quickly and efficiently without the hassle of waiting on hold or giving agents additional time to catch up on the issue.

    2. Knowledge Bases: Empowering Customers with Self-Discovery

    Did you know that knowledge bases can deflect approximately 30-50% of customer service inquiries? According to The American Marketing Association, these comprehensive information hubs are becoming a vast asset for both customers and businesses.

    A well-designed Knowledge Base offering a wide variety of resources, such as articles, FAQs, user manuals, tutorials, etc., is always appreciated as it allows customers to find answers independently without spending time on long customer support chats and calls.

    Companies like Microsoft and IKEA have built dynamic knowledge bases loaded with video tutorials and instructional articles. Customers frequently use these resources as guides for troubleshooting, furniture self-assembly processes, or finding common answers. This way, they feel capable of solving their problems and enjoying more benefits from the product or service without needing to reach out for assistance.

    Knowledge bases are built on search efficiency. Customers just have to input a specific keyword or topic to find answers at their own pace. Moreover, knowledge bases are constantly updated to provide real-time information, ensuring customers always have access to the latest information.

    3. Machine Learning: Continuously Learning and Adapting to Customer Needs

    Machine Learning is driving systems with its AI-powered capabilities and making each interaction brighter than ever. This technology leverages artificial intelligence to analyze massive datasets, identify patterns, and keep upgrading its capabilities.

    According to Gartner, by 2025, customer service AI-powered by machine learning is projected to handle 90% of routine inquiries, highlighting its significant contribution to self-service.

    Machine learning offers personalized recommendations and search results based on individual behaviors and preferences in the form of AI self-service. It facilitates predictive maintenance, anticipating potential issues before they arise and prompting customers to take preventive measures.

    ServiceNow, one of the leaders in the digital workflow space, is proactively leveraging the capabilities of machine learning algorithms in its Now Platform. These algorithms conduct in-depth analysis of customer service interactions, identify common questions and pain points, and automatically display relevant knowledge base articles or chatbot responses. This is already impressing many customers who are searching for the correct information they need quickly and efficiently while also helping refine the self-service system over time.

    4. Natural Language Processing: Understanding the Complexities of Human Communication

    Natural Language Processing (NLP) is officially the left hand of AI-powered self-service. It enables the systems to comprehend the hidden complexities of human communication, like typos, slang, regional and informal language. With NLP, AI analyses text and speech comprehend meaning and responds naturally and engagingly.

    Natural Language Processing allows for more natural and engaging conversations with virtual assistants, which gives customers the freedom to raise queries in the most comfortable way. Additionally, NLP can be used to personalize responses based on the tone and sentiment of a customer’s inquiry.

    Many popular social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, leverage NLP to power their chatbots and messaging systems. These chatbots can understand user queries, even if they’re phrased informally or contain emojis. They can then provide relevant information, answer questions, and even resolve simple issues, all within a familiar social media environment. This allows customers to get help quickly and easily without needing to navigate a complex website or call a customer service line.

    5. Speech Recognition: Making Self-Service More Accessible

    Speech recognition is another game-changing AI-powered self-service technology. It enables users to interact with systems using their voice, similar to talking to a friend. Here, users can just give a voice command to retrieve information quickly and complete tasks efficiently.

    The global speech recognition market is projected to reach $35.53 billion by 2026, as per MarketsandMarkets. This suggests a continued increase in demand for voice-enabled solutions across different industries.

    Speech recognition enhances the accessibility of self-service systems. For individuals with disabilities or those who prefer hands-free interaction, it’s a gift that offers a more natural and intuitive mode of engagement with self-service tools, eliminating the need for human presence.

    Many smart home devices, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, operate on speech recognition technology. You just have to give commands like OK, Google, play Flowers by Miley Cirus, or ask what the weather will be like tomorrow in Tennessee. These devices are controllable, offering a seamless and convenient self-service experience for everyday interactions within the home environment.

    The Final Take

    The future of self-services isn’t about replacing human resources with technology. It’s about bringing Artificial Intelligence and humans together as a team and delivering the best-personalized experience to customers. This dream team can create trends and make Maya Angelou’s words true: “’People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

    By combining growing technology with empathy, as a business, we all can create not just solutions but memorable experiences that truly resonate with each customer’s journey.

    Stay tuned for more insights and business playbacks on how AI is transforming customer service! We’ll be exploring the latest trends and how businesses can leverage this powerful technology to create a winning customer experience.

    digital experiences