As the customer experience continues to evolve and omni-channel engagement becomes more commonplace, the appetite for automated customer self-service – such as text-based chatbots – is leading many businesses to take steps to deploy technologies to make this a reality.
However, the true rewards of automated self-service can only be reaped if organisations gain a comprehensive grasp of natural language processing (NLP) technology. This is according to Aspect Software.
According to a recent survey conducted by Aspect, 92 per cent of respondents recognise that natural language processing is an important element of the customer experience when it comes to automated self-service, which is a positive endorsement of the role that NLP will play in the customer engagement centre of the future. Despite this recognition, businesses still need further direction and guidance if their self-service options are to reach the level of sophistication that their customers expect.
Stephen Ball, Senior VP Europe & Africa at Aspect, said: “It’s no longer sufficient for organisations to manage customer engagement purely through more traditional channels, such as phone or email. Customers want to feel empowered to make their own decisions as to how they interact with a company, and this is where self-service comes to the fore.
“Once these self-service options are in place, customers then expect them to be able to deal with their queries just as effectively as if they had a direct conversation with a human agent. For this to be the case, organisations need to think about how they can incorporate a solution that is able to understand the intricacies of language, and is able to make recommendations that mean the customer goes away from the interaction satisfied.”
For Ball, this is where NLP – when implemented in the right way – will make a real difference: “It is important for businesses to realise that making a success of NLP is a process that takes time and effort, in which investments should be made in AI technology that can be easily adapted to suit the individual needs of the company, and are advanced enough to meet the complex demands of the modern customer.
“NLP has a huge amount of potential, so when implementing it as part of an automated self-service strategy, organisations need to make sure that they have the expertise in place to truly make the most of it. It’s crucial that businesses increase their efforts to upskill staff so that those handling NLP are well-versed in how best to deploy it, as well as work with external partners to gain this relevant AI experience in the short and medium term.”
Ball concluded: “Reputations are built and maintained on customer service, so it goes without saying that businesses should do what they can to give customers the option to interact in the ways that suit them best. Self-service has become a hugely popular channel through which to achieve this, but it is vital that the technology underpinning this is fully capable of providing a level of customer engagement excellence that matches the organisation’s wider philosophy. In this way, companies can experience the efficiency benefits of increased automation, without compromising on the quality of the interactions they have with their customers.”