Change is inevitable; in a dynamic world, nothing can remain static for long. So, in an age dominated by mobile devices and a tech-savvy generation that is constantly looking for quicker and interactive ways of getting things done, it’s natural that the meaning of ‘customer service’ would also undergo a metamorphosis.
So what is the future of customer service? The Applied Voice Input Output Society (AVIOS), a not-for-profit industry organization that promotes speech technology, attempts to explain this major transition in technology that will prompt “customer service” to be redefined.
All these years, agents were the pivots around which contact centers revolved. To contact them, customers would pick up the phone, dial in and wait (sometimes endlessly) for agents to answer their queries and solve their problems. Then along came email, SMS, Web chat, and social media, all of which sought to trigger call center agent services in different ways. Not long after, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems changed the face of agent interaction by automating customer service requests, and that opened the doors for natural language technologies to surface.
In the span of few years, the meaning of customer service has evolved many times, and as natural-language and spoken interaction with mobile phones becomes more acceptable, alternatives to supporting the future of customer service will then emerge, and companies will find that the term needs to be redefined once again.
Typically, agent-driven services have been frustrating for customers, as the buck is passed from one agent to another, leaving the customer disgruntled and dissatisfied. William Meisel, executive director, AVIOS, feels that natural language technology and speech recognition can make a true difference by delivering a virtual personal assistant that can ensure instant responses, maintaining consistency across all devices while handling customer queries.
“That virtual assistant can be expanded beyond just answering questions to marketing and sales, an increasing need for companies faced with competition from Web-based sales," added Meisel, while elaborating on the advantages of the new technology.
Speech technology powers iPhone’s virtual assistant Siri, Samsung’s (News - Alert) S-Voice, and other apps for financial institutions with moderate success; how it impacts call center customer services will determine the new meaning of customer service.
Maybe in the future, artificial intelligence can help read customer’s minds and use speech technology to direct questions and get answers without the customer even opening his mouth. That would indeed be something.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson