How to deliver revolutionary self service on your phone channel

Build it and they will come. It’s a phrase we’ve heard a lot over many years in relation to digital customer journeys. How we move people from phones on to digital journeys, self serving, cutting costs. Good for customers, good for the business.

Well maybe it is but it doesn’t necessarily work as well as we would all like.

Why do customers still want to speak to us?

Well there’s many reasons. Some of the key ones are actually they just don’t want a relationship with us, they want to get things done fast, they don’t want a portal to go and access their account and have to look after passwords. So when they need to do something, they call.

Second is bad design. Some of these digital journeys really don’t work in the way the customer would like them to. They’re designed around our business process, not the customer.

And third. It’s about convenience. We’re all using mobile phones a lot more than we used to do. Screens are still relatively small.

What’s easier than going through a journey?

Well it’s easier to just go and get the number and make the call and speak to somebody that way and get your issue resolved.

So what can we do about this?

There’s a real opportunity for applying AI to solve this problem.

For a while now, we’ve been able to deliver self service journeys on the phone channel but they’ve not been particularly good.

AI is transforming that. We call it Digital Voice.

Let’s imagine a chat bot, put that chat bot on the phone channel and service the customer so that they can complete their interaction without needing to speak to somebody.

Whether it’s to do with booking, whether it’s to make an adjustment to a car insurance policy or to chase up an order that hasn’t arrived.

We can do that now because AI has built a lot more functionality and capability into the tools that we need for this. For example, automatic speech recognition, natural language understanding and speech to text systems.

If you want examples of these, go and have a look on YouTube at Google Duplex. It’s quite an amazing example of what has been achieved already.

Secondly, it’s so easy to get started.

All the tools that you need to do this are actually online as services in the cloud. There’s lot of training to support them, they all have open APIs.

The barriers to entry around technology have gone, and also the barriers to entry around the commercials have gone. So you don’t need to go make a massive investment with a third party supplier. You just start using these systems on a pay per use basis.

There’s no contract, no long term commitment. What you use is what you pay for. So it’s really easy to get started and experiment and prove there’s some value to you and your business.

So how do you get started?

Well first of all you build an intent model. Why are customers calling you? We can do that. We’ve done that with clients in less than two weeks.

You start gathering the information, the words the customer are saying about why they’re calling, start to categorise it and start to build a picture of the data that will help you to determine where’s the best place to start building some of these self service applications on your phone channel.

With that data you can then start building a roadmap and start deploying some of these changes.

Typically you want to do this in a very agile way. You want to be making changes very quickly over a period of a week or two, adding new services, adding new features, seeing how they perform, doing a test and learn process and then feeding that information back into design of the next phase.

It’s very much an agile way to deliver this type of technology.

Does it work?

It absolutely does. Some use cases are that a retailer has got 60% of their contacts related to order chasing deflected and contained in this voice self service channel. It’s amazing. 60%, that’s a lot of calls.

Other clients are using them at a massive scale. 11 million calls are being processed through this application for one client through a year.

This technology works at scale.

So what’s the key challenge to making this work?

It’s all about good conversational design.

Think about the interaction between the customer and the system and design a conversation that really works for that customer so that they feel that they’re getting what they need and want to stay in that channel so that their issue is resolved.

Make that your number one priority, the technology then becomes something which enables that design rather than technology driving the design. That’s the key to success from my perspective.

If you want to know more about Digital Voice or any other aspect of deploying artificial intelligence in your organisation then please do get in touch.

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