• September 15, 2023
  • By Fortuné Alexander, senior director of product marketing for customer service and sales automation, Pega

AI Is Ushering in a New Era of Customer Service: Autonomous Service

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While customer service isn’t typically associated with the word autonomous, this link between the two terms is more relevant than ever before. As we usher in a new generation of AI capabilities, we are also entering a new era of autonomous service.

This next generation of customer service puts AI in charge of the initial customer engagement, handling routine tasks and resolving more requests while freeing up customer service agents to intervene in complex or emotional cases requiring a human touch. This more efficient allocation of virtual and human resources will speed up service resolutions, increase productivity gains, and improve the customer (and employee) experience—all at the same time. 

This shift, which has been gradually taking place over the past decade with emergence of tools such as chatbots and voice assistants, is dramatically accelerating with the emergence of more powerful AI tools such as Chat GPT which is now being integrated into customer engagement systems. Autonomous service will offer customers better (and faster) service. 

To prepare for this new era, customer service leaders should assess their current service automation capabilities starting with simple automations and moving up the curve to more sophisticated AI-powered automations. Here are a few of the levels to keep in mind when considering a roadmap to implementing autonomous service in your organization:

Automate Repetitive Tasks

At this basic level, agents and bots work side-by-side using attended robotic process automation (RPA) to simplify and automate workflows across legacy systems and bridge last-mile gaps across the enterprise. While a more “basic” level, there’s a lot of value here as organizations can free up their employees’ time to focus on more important, customer-facing work. RPA helps speed up processes by reducing swivel chair processes, eliminate errors, and get work done faster, so agents can be more productive and direct their focus to more nuanced work.  

Contain More Inquiries with Virtual Agents

Enabling digital touchpoints and conversational mediums like web messaging with chatbots can both answer initial customer requests and surface additional information to help resolve subsequent issues. Customers may still need to be passed to a live agent once more sophisticated interactions are required, such as processing an insurance claim or handling a safety incident, but this helps get faster resolution for smaller issues, which is great for customers and agents alike.

Use AI to Guide Agents Through Complex Service Workflows

Using AI and natural language processing (NLP) to remove guesswork, agents are guided through their workflows and are able to better deliver consistent service experiences, reduce errors, and prevent customers from having to repeat themselves. Agents can delegate tasks to bots, such as fetching customer information during a particular moment during the customer journey as necessary, without a change in the quality of service.

Automate More Work Out of the Contact Center with AI-Powered Self-Service  

Comprehensive AI-powered automation enables virtual agents to resolve complex issues via self-service. An exception-based human escalation prompts for agent assistance within AI-powered customer-initiated interactions. This digital experience offers the same level of customer journey-driven understanding and resolution as customers would receive from a human agent.

Eliminate the Need for Customers to Contact You in the First Place

Use event and pattern detection to uncover customer issues and enable dynamic, proactive outreach when customer moments of need are detected, and even take things a step further with preemptive digital resolution before a moment of need even occurs.

Service autonomy will enable customer service leaders to continue on this game-changing trajectory. By organizing autonomous service around the customer journey, organizations can offer consistent, contextual, and relevant engagement across every touchpoint. This not only makes service better for customers but also improves the lives of the agents—enabling them to do their jobs better while also serving customers as quickly and as accurately as possible.

It’s rare when a day goes by without a headline about frustrations in the customer service industry, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Autonomous service is no longer a concept of the future—these varying degrees of autonomy can help organizations resolve issues faster than ever before, while also improving agent experiences. If implemented correctly, we can all look forward to a time where poor customer service is a thing of the past.  

Fortuné Alexander is the senior director of product marketing for customer service and sales automation at Pega. He specializes in go-to-market strategy and marketing for enterprise CX solutions. Alexander is a global citizen who has lived around the world (Oslo, London, Paris) and worked at tech companies including Dell, Sony, Oracle, and Pega.  

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