Customer Service Innovations: Cheaper, Faster, More Automated…Yet More Human!

How visual IVR, Augmented Reality powered Video Assistance, Connected Devices and many more technologies are changing the game.

More than a year ago Gartner predicted that by 2018, more than 50% of organizations will redirect investments to customer experience innovations.

A lot of new services have emerged lately based on the combination of some old and new technologies and they are definitely raising the bar of customer service.

But we are just at the beginning of the Customer Service Revolution… So what could be the ultimate customer experience? Perhaps one that combines all of these technologies: Visual IVR, live video powered with augmented reality, connected devices/AI.

Before we dive into the experiences that those technologies allow, let’s remind ourselves what customer service means too often:

How many times have you called a customer service 1–800 number and experienced the dreaded “Press 1, press 2, etc …” or struggling to speak to someone with the right knowledge, bouncing from agent to agent? You may have lost your class and act like that behind your phone…

I recently called the DMV’s (Department of Motor Vehicle). After I pressed a few keys on my phone, an automated voice message let me know that the waiting time was …. 2 hours!!

In the digital and the mobile age, there has to be a better way to serve customers.

Many customers use their smartphone to reach out to companies and, as hated as it’s, the IVR is seen as a necessary evil by many companies in order to filter incoming calls. However the Poor customer experiences provided can definitely negatively impact their brand image and future revenue streams.

Technologies can help improve this experience, while lowering cost to serve for companies. Wouldn’t be nice before you call that your provider knew who you are and what are your struggles with their products/services? Thanks to Intelligent Routing or Predictive call routing, your provider can know your location, your language, the pages you browsed on the company website, your previous requests, etc. and leverage all these information to get you the right live agent with the right expertise.

But before you get there, and just because not every call can be served right away by a customer representative, you might go through a Visual IVR i.e a visual interface will be pushed to your phone just after you call.

Visual IVR: a visual menu is pushed to your phone just after you call

This is a far better experience than the traditional automated voice system using dial-tone or speech recognition, which are inherently limited. For example if like me you have a thick accent, speech recognition will likely give you unexpected results. Also try to type an alphanumeric ID through a number keypad. The Visual IVR is quicker to present you the options and it s much easier to navigate.

The visual IVR allows to answer straightforward questions, that do not require a human interaction, very quickly. For example “What are your business hours?”,”Where is the closest office?“,”Pay my bill” etc…

Increasing self-care saves time to both customers and companies.

If your request requires a human interaction, you can still request to talk to a live person at any time. The Visual IVR will just serve as a gate to further qualify your request and route you to the right skill.

Once you are talking to your live agent, he or she will have a lot of tools available to fully understand your issue in its context and help you with your needs.

3 years ago I published an article about Amazon MayDay proving the market for Live Video Assistance.

Well… just recently Amazon announced it’s ending its MayDay service…

Too Expensive for general purpose requests… However I still believe there is a need for Video Assistance when combined with Augmented Reality and for specific questions/tasks.

For example if you are using your smartphone while contacting your provider the agent can turn any call/chat (with your validation) into a video conversation and leverage the back camera of your phone so he can see what you see, live. More than that the agent can interact with you in a whole new way: sharing with you some documents, co-browsing the internet, drawing on your mobile screen to show you what to do or where to click.

Augmented Reality powered video assistance has multiple applications: technical supports, consultation with online bankers, e-learning, telemedicine, establish live claims with insurer, etc.

All of these available thanks your smartphone, but going forward it will only be one of the connected devices from which you can get helped/service from a provider.

Indeed, the Internet of Things (IOT) has become a reality, and each year we see a greater number of everyday devices that suddenly become “smart”. By 2020 years there will be 50 connected devices for each person in the US [HuffPost:Tech].

Connected devices

You can read more about one use case combining the use of a connected device and live video assistance here

The good news is that all these technologies and smart devices may actually lead to more human interactions, because ultimately, Human interactions are what makes an exceptional customer experience — as reminded by Monoprix a french grocery chain who parodied Amazon Go — but technology is greatly helping!

(Amazon go ad: