Going Digital: Self Service Initiatives, Ensuring “friction-less” Interactions

September 20, 2017 By: Praveen Kumar

Since the arrival of responsive web and mobile technologies, digital transformation has been the core of many companies’ corporate strategies, especially those who interact with the end-user through their software applications.

While applications are being designed and built considering the ease of use and navigation, there has also been a lot of focus towards the various interaction points or touch-points companies’ have with their customers. Significant efforts are being spent in ensuring that the interactions through those touch-points are as “frictionless” as possible which improves the overall satisfaction level.

Let us find out what are the main touch-points for a retail company and a customer: In-Person (agent, office admin, etc.), online (website, mobile app, others) and offline (letters, offline orders, etc.). Though there are a lot of improvement opportunities in In-person and Offline interactions, let’s take online interaction as the case for this discussion.

Self-service digital initiatives are one of the ways to ensure friction-less interactions, especially when a company is going Digital. While it provides a sense of responsibility for DIY (Do It Yourself), it also takes care of communication issues like language barrier, voice and accent, cultural differences, etc. There are 3 important aspects of self-service initiatives:

  • Empowerment: perception of speed and DIY.
  • Convenience: multiple channels like Kiosk, Web, Mobile, Wearables, etc.
  • Engagement: personalized interaction through systems and applications based on analytics.

There are technologies and frameworks available to create self-service solutions like App Bots, Chat Bots, Smart Kiosks. Internet of Things (IoT) and Cognitive Technologies are playing a very important role here by enabling devices and systems to be connected, not only for data transfer but also by using machine learning, making the interactions as real as possible.

Cognitive technology/artificial intelligence is another key enabler for this. This is an ever-growing area of computer technology which focusses on systems and application that enables us to do things which usually requires human intelligence. The importance of Cognitive/AI can be understood by Netflix example: Netflix uses this to find out which movie users will like the most.

Another key area is the use of pattern analysis/predictive analytics to proactively plan the next interaction level with the customer. For example, if a customer falls into a segment where people select a bottle of wine right after adding cheese to the kart (isn’t that common?), respective suggestions should be shown to the customer.

All the above improve the self-service experience. There is more and more work to be done in this area to improve overall customer satisfaction by providing a “frictionless” environment. There are certain challenges as well in this approach like interoperability, communication channels and standardization, network connectivity, etc.

Currently, the Self-servicing technology market is growing by 15% CAGR, but with innovations and initiatives in technology, days are not far when the self-servicing technology market will grow multi-fold than as of today. After all, self-driving cars are a reality now!!

Keep delivering value!!

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Praveen Kumar

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