Thanks to remarkable advances in AI technology, we’re on the brink of an explosion in self-service and automation technologies – of which the most exciting for 2020 is certainly chatbots.
The emphasis on chatbots in 2020 is largely a matter of timing and improved performance. Not only has powerful AI technology, such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Sentiment Analysis, drastically improved bots’ ability to under
The emphasis on chatbots in 2020 is largely a matter of timing and improved performance. Not only has powerful AI technology, such as Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Sentiment Analysis, drastically improved bots’ ability to understand and converse with human users, it’s also widened the scope for deployment.
Rather than only handling simple information retrieval requests, bots are now able to process increasingly complex tasks, providing satisfactory responses to a wide range of customer enquiries.
At the same time, that generation which has grown up with this technology and is most comfortable using it – Millennials – is also coming of age as the dominant consumer demographic. This ‘perfect storm’ of self-serve factors means that some industry experts are predicting that 85% of all customer interactions will be processed via a self-serve technology like chatbots by the end of 2020.
Though organisations have already gone a long way to personalising the customer experience, the process has been held back by one key factor – insufficient data. While you may think that businesses already collect vast amounts of customer data, it’s nothing on what’s predicted to come next.
Three main factors will drive the focus on more personalised customer service in 2020. They are:
- The rapid growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) – when everyday devices are connected to the internet, they become capable of generating even more personal data. Your fridge can tell you when you’re running out of milk and your car will tell you when it’s tyres need changing. All of this data allows organisations to create a more complete picture of who the customer is and to personalise the customer experience even further.
- Customer expectations – Infosys recently released a report that details how 74% of customers are irritated by website content that is not personalised. That’s almost three in four customers who are likely to shun your brand if it doesn’t offer a personalised customer experience.
- Improved data capture and analysis – Forbes anticipates that, in 2020, digital users will generate 1.7MB of data every second. If the sheer quantity of personal data being generated is one of the key driving forces behind greater personalisation, the other is our improved capacity for analysis. Driven largely by developments in AI, this changes the game when it comes to understanding customer intention, needs and desires.
While Augmented Reality (AR) entered the public conscience via relatively simple games like Pokemon Go!, it looks as though it will find its most complete expression (so far) in the customer service environment. The same goes for its more immersive partner – Virtual Reality (VR).
AR and VR are likely to become key technologies in 2020 customer service environments because they go some way to addressing one of the key weaknesses associated with the online experience – a lack of physicality and real-world presence.
Take a furniture retailer. While an online distributor will likely be able to beat a more traditional, showroom-based retailer on price, the showroom benefits from being able to give customers a better sense of how a sofa looks, feels, and fits into a space. However, AR resolves this issue by allowing customers to virtually imposing the sofa on their living room via their digital device.
Alternatively, look at online clothing retailers who are currently struggling with ‘wardrobing’ – a fraudulent act where customers buy an item of clothing, wear it once or twice, and then return it. In this instance, AR and VR could be developed to allow customers to virtually try on an outfit before they buy, limiting their ability to return an item because it didn’t fit or didn’t meet expectations.
Co-browsing is an interesting new customer service trend that’s emerged due to the growing importance of digital customer service channels. As customers are expected to complete more and more interactions online, it’s become increasingly apparent that a means of helping them through these digital transactions is necessary.
Though comparable to screen-sharing, there are key differences between it and co-browsing. Unlike screen sharing, co-browsing allows the customer to place limitations on what the agent guiding them through the process can see, access and control. This alleviates privacy concerns and ensures that the integrity of the customer’s system is not compromised.
In recent years, much emphasis has been placed on automation technologies and how they’ll improve the service provided by human agents. However, 2020 is likely to be the year the humble human agent makes a bit of a comeback.
We’re not talking about a return to the days of enormous call centres and telephony-only customer service. That would be a backwards step. We’re talking about an increasing awareness that human agents are an essential component in the modern customer service system and that organisations cannot focus exclusively on automation technologies.
Instead, your human agents need to be integrated into an omnichannel system and provided with the tools and expertise they need to excel at providing a very specific and more specialist type of customer service. The whole point of automation technologies (besides reducing costs and providing customers with 24/7 customer service) is that they free up human agents to focus on those tasks that require human nuance, understanding and expertise.
In 2020, we expect to see customer service departments better equipping their human agents to ensure that they’re able to provide outstanding customer service every time they’re called upon.
There can be no doubt that 2020 is shaping up to be an exciting year in terms of developments in customer service technology. Driving the most drastic changes are astounding advances in AI and the continued expansion of the IoT. However, other technologies are sure to have an impact too and we’re particularly excited to explore the impact chatbots will have on the customer experience.