Greg Lavin of the Off Center Blog recently made a very interesting post about the downside of web self-service. In the blog he claims that poor self-service apps and shaky interactive voice recognition (IVR) systems account for about 10% of adult baldness. This is, of course, a tongue in cheek observation and not one grounded in actual research. But he almost certainly has a point.
Lavin’s comments are reminiscent of the article I discussed in my previous post on the frustration many consumers have with poorly conceived service avatars. Why do many consumers prefer talking to a real person as opposed to interacting with a virtual agent or service avatar? The answer would have to be that the human is better at understanding them and providing the assistance they need.
But web self-service applications aren’t going away. Technologies are constantly improving, and the day may come when a virtual agent can get to the right answer faster than a human. Until that day arrives, Lavin suggests that we focus on testing our service bots and other web self-service technologies. He provides some useful tips for applying quality assurance checks to existing apps.
Don’t assume virtual agents are working smoothly. Make sure that someone is reviewing logs to analyze how many consumer questions go unanswered. Encourage users to provide feedback after they interact with self-service agents. Use social channels to get input on self-service. Most of all, invest in continuously testing your agent technologies. Testing can help you ensure that your web self-service is good for the customer and good for business.