Despite automated alternatives, there still ain’t nothing like the real thing.
Hello, Tech Support speaking, how can I help? And from this point forward, we expect a conversation with a human being, and, depending on the issue, an appointment with a person. Or so we thought up to now.
A few things have changed over the past decade or two. What was once a person talking to a person from the minute we called to the moment we hang up gradually morphed into talking to a bot first, identifying our problems and needs, and eventually directing us to a real human.
We also warmed up to tools like TeamViewer, helping tech support look at our computers remotely first before going someplace for service or having a technician come to the office. We also learned to accept remote tools watching over our office imaging devices, and over the years, pretty much any other machine we can connect to the internet.
Chatbots have taken over the first contact steps on websites. And first aid on a support page? The chatbot’s got it. The trend to artificial intelligence taking over from that human nerd who always shares that little extra insight continues. What was once solved by the glance of an all-knowing human eye is now being solved via augmented reality.
What is what?
Voicebot: By now, we’re all used to and often annoyed by the friendly voices giving us option 1-X to select from, either by dialing a number or by voice command. They usually deliver what they’re supposed to and are only frustrating when you hear the “There are 374 customers in front of you, please hold the line” recording, and you’re being kicked out seven seconds into the call to the real human.
Chatbot: My personal No. 1 challenge. A chatbot can only be as good as the person programming it, and the logic built-in or trained via artificial intelligence. If you do not know how to set up a chatbot, if you are not willing to invest in a decent solution, and if you are not prepared to refine it continually, please do not frustrate your customers with it.
Artificial Intelligence (AI): The backbone of a good chatbot and analytics tool. AI and algorithms are what make our tools intelligent and useful. It takes time and money to get anything based on data and artificial decision-making up and running, especially when it comes to predictive analytics. But when you get it right, you have a winner and a time- and money-saver.
Augmented Reality (AR): Slowly losing its “futuristic” reputation, AR can be a game-changer (and for many B2C businesses, it already is). Whether used in the most straightforward setup, based on QR codes, or marker-based via a smartphone or tablet, or even a more-advanced option via AR glasses, the use-cases seem to know no limits. Advertise, convert, transfer knowledge, support—anything is possible. That said, any AR solution is only as intelligent as the markers or WebAR used and the experiences connected. And that could mean a lot of homework creating videos, making manuals interactive, and adding the correct information/video/image/text for the AR experience of screw #17 next to the yellow hooky on the paper tray.
Tech Supporter: The human working left, right, and center with any or all of the above. Japanese research showed that humans still outperform artificial intelligence when it comes to quick, knowledge-based, yet intuitive decision-making. If you have an experienced tech-support human, be nice to them; their knowledge can save customer relationships and generate a lot of money.
As always, we can only start the discussion around a complex topic. However, the takeaways are clear here: While an artificial colleague may be a good idea for the first contact, they can’t outperform the real thing.
While technology can enhance the human techie’s know-how, it can’t replace them in human-to-human interactions.
While artificial helpers may lower the barrier to ask that “stupid” question, there’s no guarantee the bot will understand it, never mind will ask the next intelligent question or find the correct answer. Human tech support will find a workaround, at least, if they can’t directly answer/solve the issue.
While predictive solutions can help prevent non-human, i.e., hardware errors, only a human can support another human to improve their performance—be it 1:1 or via an AR/video experience.
And while all these new approaches may sound like we need them to be more successful, select your artificial tools carefully, bearing in mind your business goals, vision, and mission, and never underestimate the extra tricks tech geeks hold up their sleeves.
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