As of today, self-service has already become a key part of delivering a superior customer experience that the present consumers expect from their companies.
Now irrespective of whether they help the consumers to make changes to their accounts themselves or provide answers to routine inquiries over self-service systems, the benefits are clear.
In fact, consumers today can get faster and more convenient services that value their time using self-service options, while brands are able to deflect mundane questions that would otherwise be answered by a human being using this business growth strategy, which at the end frees up their precious business hours and also increase efficiency.
Now, even though we have witnessed a rapid growth in self-service for the customers in the last five years, but what will the next five bring is a matter of concern.
Hence in this article based on our experience as one of the most popular vendors of Salesforce Alternative CRM for the SMB organizations, we believe that there are key four areas to focus on as we look ahead in time:
1. Superior Use Of More Advanced AI
In the present times, we are already witnessing businesses harnessing AI technologies such as NLP (Natural Language Processing) and Machine Learning in self-service, which either way helps in identifying what questions actually means and thereafter provide the right answers to the customers.
Nowadays this can be delivered either using a Chatbot or a standard web-service question and answer interface.
Nevertheless, what we believe today as one of the best vendors of CRM for small and medium businesses is that AI will develop even further and faster in the days to come.
For example, it will empower self-service to better understand the consumer’s context of an inquiry and use this knowledge to develop a more natural and fuller conversation with the consumers that than engaging in single interactions, like as we find today.
This means Chatbots will be able to provide answers to more difficult, and complex enquires like “Please book me the cheapest flight ticket to Chicago departing today and email me the boarding pass in advance.”
Note: It is presumed that NLP engines in the next few years will become more regional and domain-specific, which implies less training will be required to tune these machines and make them faster to deploy in a pre-packaged way.
2. Self-Service Will Become Easier To Roll-Out And Manage
One of the problems that we face with self-service technologies nowadays is that the system relies heavily on humans to create and manage their interactions.
For example, web self-service and Chatbots presently require a team to write, review, and update relevant and important contents with the knowledge base of the business growth technology that constitutes the building blocks of the software.
Nevertheless, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is gaining its reputation and strength rapidly which will help in human mapping and understanding the processes used by self-service technologies and thereafter identify those areas that can be automated.
Therefore in the near future, it is apprehended that RPA will act as a relief for hard-pressed customer service teams, where the deployment of the system becomes a barrier as they feel that they do not have the time or capacity to create a knowledge base or manually pick processes that demand improvements.
This implies that self-service is presently focusing on facilitating information rather than going deeper into just solving issues for the consumers.
Hence as one of the best vendors of CRM for SMB organizations, we believe that over the next 5 years AI will even help to transform the back-end processes within self-service, which will, in turn, remove much of the load on customer service teams.
For example, by analyzing customer service conversations AI in the near future will be able to flag where there are any gaps in the knowledge base, and then suggest relevant answers that can be reviewed (if needed) by a human before deployment.
Similarly, AI will even integrate with such systems like an easy to use CRM and billing software technologies in order to flag friction points in processes that can be automated and also suggest ways for accomplishing these.
3. Democratizing Self-Service
Even the best self-service deployments presently need resources to tune, manage and update them, which implies that they have tended to be the domain of large and medium-sized businesses that have these resources available within their organization.
Now, the good news for modern customers is that by using AI within the back-end of the self-service systems, businesses can reduce their management overheads significantly, increase ROI, which will, in turn, put self-service options within the grasp of many more startups and small businesses.
Customers will, therefore, receive a significantly improved self-service experience from every brand they deal with, irrespective of its size or industry.
Well, given the present downward trend in customer satisfaction with businesses across the globe, as it has been found by the Institute of Customer Service, this big improvement will be a welcoming step for the entire industry.
4. Self-Service Will Become More Proactive
In the present times self-service is reactive, which implies it provides service or responses only after a customer asks them, which in the near future we as one of the best small and medium business CRM software vendors believe will become more proactive, and will be able to deliver information to the consumers or trigger processes without a question needed to be asked, whereby a human customer may not be required to be involved at all and will be still notified about what is going on automatically.
For example, a vehicle could automatically identify whether it is going to require service, check its owner’s digital diary, and thereafter book a service in the local garage.
Now even though all these might sound like a page from a science fiction novel today, it is an approach that is already being explored by innovators like Tesla.
Therefore, by identifying what consumers are trying to do, self-service will be able to predict the support and the information they need, and thereafter automatically supply it logically.
However, to end this discussion, all these advances rely on one factor- Trust.
Now, customers use self-service today because they trust that self-service options will be capable of delivering the answers that they need and thereby make their lives easier.
Hence, if trust in self-service technologies fails to provide this most necessary payback, consumers will surely abandon the channel, which will reduce efficiency and destruct the customer experience, and so transformations in self-service over the next five years in the ‘post-COVID-19’ era businesses need to ensure that every step they take must revolve around the customer needs if it has to deliver ROI for the companies and improve the satisfaction of the consumers.