Over the last decade, self service never really caught on in the way some had hoped.
The IVR variety could work after a fashion with enough determination to see it through. But it always demanded you submitted to the way it wanted to work and so was seldom a memorable user experience.
Even well designed web based service portals were a chore in terms of finding answers. That said, sometimes the right answer would pop up from a Google/Bing search and that would be that. But few did their SEO well enough for such apparent magic.
YouTube became a hunting ground for finding those amazing folk whose aim in life is to record how to pull apart and fix all manner of things for the rest of us. Third party sites such as Fixya became magnets for professionals moonlighting from their day jobs in the quest for top ranking positions on the ‘Fixed It! leaderboard.
But now there is another way to get self service outcomes. Intelligent assistants, or chatbots as everyone now seems to call them, change what’s possible. For instance, instead of just consuming self service you start to relate. In fact you are hard wired to do so. Here’s an example of that tendency to anthropomorphise. Any guesses as to what you are really looking at?
As a result you can have simple conversations based a natural style of interaction. Instead of searching you just have to ask. As ever in life you get what you ask for, so it helps when dialogue can be scripted to clarify what you really want through questioning and some artful nudging. But the overall feeling is closer to being assisted by a concierge instead of being left to navigate a poorly arranged library.
It Just Snuk Up On Us
That’s the AI at work. Its presence is more common than many of us think. Every time we use Google to search for something or look for someone’s details yet to be captured as a contact on our smartphone, clever stuff happens.
In the Google example, billions of other similar requests and chosen answers are factored into serving me up a relevant result. Apple’s AI application on my iPhone digs deep into my emails and messages and auto suggests the contact details that I’ve yet to log, in a helpful, non assumptive way.
This type of personalised intervention has set expectations for millions of consumers who would now like every other brand they engage with to follow suit.
The short to medium term consequence of this capability is that customers start to notice just how effortful certain journeys become when not simplified in this kind of way. There are already many reasons why consumers leave brands due to unsustainable effort. ‘Better bots’ are due to become a new category in customer churn analysis as they rapidly establish a whole new frontier in convenient low effort engagement.
So it’s time to get on the bus.
If You’re Ready, What About The Others?
If you want to spread the word amongst colleagues and know they prefer to learn via seeing rather than reading try offering them the video below. It pretty much covers what you’ve just read. But for some, the story comes to life when it’s seen.