Automation with a human touch

While consumers are quickly starting to prefer self-service solutions to meet their needs, live agents will never disappear. There is an opportunity to leverage human intelligence to make these automated experiences even better. Truly great automated customer self-service will be powered by great UX design, perceptive technology and a touch of human assistance.
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Artificial intelligence and self-service can drive better customer experiences and reduce call center costs

Recently, Andy Mauro wrote that self-service solutions powered by artificial intelligence are bringing humanity back to customer service. Technologies like intelligent virtual assistants and conversational IVRs are creating a new standard for automated customer experiences. The goal is to eliminate consumer frustration with systems that easily recognize, understand and anticipate customer needs, delivering a better experience while also reducing contact center costs.

Although consumers are quickly starting to prefer self-service solutions, live agents will never disappear. I believe creating a symbiotic relationship between agents and automation will continuously elevate the overall customer experience. While intelligent systems allow agents to focus on high-value activities, human ingenuity will advance the learning and capabilities of the automation. Truly great customer self-service will be powered by great UX design, perceptive technology and a touch of human assistance.

I’m sure everyone has experienced at least one frustrating experience where the IVR system doesn’t understand your accent, can’t make out what you’re saying in a noisy environment or simply can’t connect what you’re asking for with the industry terms it knows. At Nuance, we believe enabling agents to become “automation assistants” that help the IVR understand and learn, will advance system learning while also helping customers accomplish their task with self-service.

So why is this important?  Because an IVR or Virtual Agent that understands your customers will make them happier customers and reduce your costs. There is still a gap between automated technology and what a human is capable of understanding. The human ear can still distinguish speakers amidst background noise better than computers (check out “The Cocktail Party Effect” to learn more). Live agents also have a better understanding of slang and jargon, translating this into computer speak so that your customers don’t have to repeat themselves. And, humans can address ambiguity such as “1” versus “one” in an email address more easily, helping to eliminate misheard information.

As you continue to evolve your call center operations, don’t miss the opportunity to incorporate the human factor in your automated customer service strategy. Make sure you are delivering intelligent self-service that continuously improves the customer experience by building a mutually beneficial bridge between automated technology and the customer’s intent.

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Ken Arakelian

About Ken Arakelian

Ken Arakelian is the director of product management for Nuance's On Demand business. With more than 15 years of experience, Ken has worked in the contact center industry as a consultant, account manager and product manager.