4 Keys to Finding the Best Self-Care Solution 

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As discussed in my last blog, reducing customer effort by enabling digital self-care is a proven way to improve the customer experience. But, how do you choose the right self-care solution for your customers? How do you ensure the self-care tools you put in place are truly effortless to use, easy and convenient to access and provide the right answers at the right time?

Here’s are 4 tips to keep in mind when looking for the best self-care solution for your customers:

1. Natural Language Search

Google has trained the world, with over 1 trillion searches each year, that if you want an answer to any question you just type or speak your question using your own natural language. This is a standard for customer experience in 2016 and delivering search in any other way will be seen as a lack of appreciation for the customer and their time. But, the standard used by most companies for enterprise search is still “key word” search which just matches the words from the customer with articles in a knowledge base. This really couldn’t be any more useless, 99% of results will just annoy your customers. By implementing “Natural Language Understanding” (NLU) a system can understand the meaning of the customer’s search, not just the words.

So, step 1 is to look for a solution provider that has been training an NLU model in your industry for at least a year. This means they have been training an NLU system with actual customer questions very similar to the questions your customers ask so you don’t have to start from scratch. The learning curve is steep for training these searches and it takes a lot of time and money to train a new system from the ground up.

2. Add context to NLU

As good as NLU is, it still has a few drawbacks. One of the biggest is a lack of understanding of the customer situation, or “context”. Context will help to refine the NLU results and only show answers that actually fit with the customer’s situation. As discussed before, if your customers are paying a recurring fee for your service then they expect a more personalized answer since you as the service provider should know a bit about about your customers from the information they have shared with you.

So relying on NLU search technology alone will only get you half way to a great answer for your customer.  By adding customer data (from billing, accounts and devices) to better understand the specific question in context of your customer and their unique situation we can deliver the most relevant answer to them. This will save them a lot of time and frustration for your customers in searching for the right answer themselves. You have the data so why not use it.

So, step 2 is to ensure your solution provider is making use of context to enhance the NLU tech.

3. Knowledge Management as a Service (KMaaS)

A massive knowledge base with hundreds of thousands of articles sounds impressive. The truth can be quite a shock though when you find that customers are still not getting the answers they want, regardless of how many articles are in the knowledgebase. Having helpful, relevant and timely articles that satisfy customers is something completely different. To deliver great answers to customers requires a great process and the right tools for your knowledge management team. This may not be something your organization is great at.

So, step 3 is to look for a vendor that has a proven Knowledge management as a Service offering to ensure you have the best tools and process working for your customers. This will let you get up and running almost overnight with an experienced team and start delivering results immediately.

4. Omni-channel

Today’s customers expect information at their fingertips wherever and whenever they want it. They also expect a seamless experience across all customer care channels – apps, website, social, contact centers and in person. Any self-care system must have you covered across the key digital channels now and in the future.

The use of customer service apps is growing quickly so while it may be a smaller portion of your traffic today you need to cover this for your early adopters. Of course, your website is probably handing the majority of your customer service traffic today so this needs to be enabled with great self-care. One last piece that may not be immediately obvious for self-care is your internal CRM. By ensuring the latest contextually relevant information is available for your internal teams you’ll deliver consistently great results to customers who contact you through voice, chat, social, retail and other channels where a live person is providing care.

So, finally, step 4 is to ensure your vendor can cover all of your inbound care channels.

There has never been so much great tech to look at in the self-care space. We’ve finally got real Natural Language Understanding and context and it will lead us to real AI in the next decade. Just be sure to choose something that is really going to make a difference, not a polished up piece of ancient technology.

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Artiom has spent 10 years in software and mobile engineering, specializing in quality assurance and customer service. He has worked in testing and QA at both startups and in enterprises such as Clickfree, TELUS, and Freescale Semiconductor.

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