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Industry Insights

The Customer Support Experience in 2020

By Kam Rawal / Nov 22, 2017

Get ready for video, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and more.

Are you thinking about the year 2020 yet? What will the not-so-distant future look like for the customer support experience? Will there be greater use of artificial intelligence? Yes, indeed! Machine learning? Definitely! Video interactions? Yes! Virtual reality? Maybe. 

Let’s look at what’s on the horizon and why it’s important to have a strategy for each of these trends.  

Artificial Intelligence

While many pundits see a turning point this year in the deployment of artificial intelligence-driven chatbots (more than 30,000 were deployed in Facebook Messenger alone as of late 2016), I believe that not many companies have hit the mark yet. Getting AI-assisted self-service right is not easy and it requires continued machine learning from transcripts of both chatbot and live-agent interactions to make the chatbot really smart. Only a handful of companies have stepped up to make chatbots live up to their promises of improving self-service rates and the customer experience… for now.

That said, the opportunity shouldn’t be ignored. Chatbots can handle many Tier I-type interactions, which reduces the volume of repetitive contacts to live agents. Now’s the time to think about increasing your company’s commitment to self-service tools such as chatbots.

Only a handful of companies have stepped up to make chatbots live up to their promise… for now.

Machine Learning and Knowledge

Speaking of machine learning, it can help more than chatbots be smarter. With the right knowledge system and artificial intelligence platform, your agents can benefit from the collective insight gathered via machine learning. Your chatbot or knowledge system can be used internally to provide insight and information to the agent, helping agents respond faster and more effectively to customer questions in the moment.  

Knowledge sharing is more important than ever as self-service tools handle the easier questions and interactions, leaving the more complex issues for live agents to handle. This means that your agents need more skills and knowledge than ever before to resolve customer requests. Consider how your artificial intelligence strategy can help live agents handle greater complexity.    

Video Interactions

Think about it: how often to do you use Skype, Messenger, or WhatsApp to video call someone? For many people, it’s pretty often. Why? Because it’s a richer experience than just voice. And that’s why it’s appealing for creating a more engaging experience in the contact center. 

While video has been around for a while, it’s expected to finally make inroads into the contact center in the next few years. Companies can use live video to create a more personalized, high-touch experience for everything from online clothes shopping to software installation. For example, if a customer is on the website and has a question, they can use a video chat window to get face-to-face assistance from an agent.

Virtual Reality

Okay, virtual reality probably won’t be mainstream in the contact center by 2020, but it is coming. There are still a number of things that need to happen first though, such as virtual reality-enabled devices becoming more cost-effective and widely available. Plus, the technology has to be integrated into the core platforms and applications that we use —everything from social media to business applications—much like chat and video are already integrated. 

Once those things happen, then you can start using virtual reality in lots of cool ways. Here’s one idea: You could give customers a virtual reality tour of an actual brick-and-mortar store and show them individual products. An agent could be leading the tour in real time and switch to a different virtual reality experience for a specific product.

Another use case might be using virtual reality to onboard customers. The customer support representative shares the virtual experience with the customer and answers questions in real time while “walking” the customer through the process of setting up a new device or software. 

The possibilities to improve the customer experience through technology are endless. But that experience can't be left to technology alone. The quality and delivery of superior customer service is one only People can provide. And it's why the Human Element will be critical to customer satisfaction in 2020 and beyond.

Kam Rawal is Head of Global Services at AppDirect.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn. Click here to read it.