An increasing number of tech-savvy customers led by millennials prefer the do-it-yourself model be it business, shopping or banking. Recent research suggests that two-thirds of customers choose self-service over talking to a customer service personnel. AI possesses powerful intelligence capabilities to transform self-service operations while providing an engaging customer experience. Artificial intelligence is changing the paradigm of how customers view self-service, as they become smoother and easier to use than ever before.

Uses of artificial intelligence in self-service:

Self-checkout stores: Customers now expect personalization offline too. With self-checkout stores and kiosks, a reality in many places, establishments are looking to offer a shopping experience that meets the digital needs and expectations of the customer. Self-checkout systems allow customers to shop for products, scan them, pay and receive receipt without waiting in queue. These systems, powered by AI, recognize the objects as easily as our eyes. Advanced AI technologies monitor the items a customer puts in their basket through cameras and sensors. Establishments can identify recurring customers via image recognition software and will be able to provide them a personalized experience by studying their consumption behavior and suggesting products or informing them when a product is in stock. AI also help retailers predict which items are popular, which items are likely to run out and efficiently manage their inventory.

New-age vending services: The challenge many retailers face is connecting the right technology to the right products to meet customer expectations. AI delivers in this front. It is now common to order drinks and food along with your movie ticket and get it delivered at your seat. To this regard, it is found that the number of people using mobile devices for vending beverages is much higher at cinemas, universities and hospitals, but not in quick service restaurants. This gives great insights on product placement and technology access. Enterprises can understand where their products and services are needed and place them accordingly to increase sales.

Customer support: To deliver high-quality service at scale consistently, enterprises need to find ways to help customers resolve their problems on their own, quickly and conveniently. Over 60% of customer service calls are requests for assistance with common, repetitive and uncomplicated tasks. AI self-service chatbots can automate support resolutions and enhance customer experience and satisfaction. The pandemic has been a great boost for self-service with conversational AI. A survey found that, 73% customers prefer self-service over calling the support center. People do not wish to wait in queue to speak to a customer care executive, they expect faster solutions and AI-enabled chatbots are a popular alternative. Since 2018, there has been a 10x growth in support queries handled by chatbots. Accessibility, accuracy and privacy are the three main reason for this phenomenal growth of conversational AI. Research shows 81% customers attempt to get solutions through a self-service portal before they reach out to a live agent. Self-service also frees up customer service personnel to pay attention to customers who might need more assistance and hence be more productive.

Employee self-service: It is time ESS portals are powered by AI to improve user experience. Employees are now in need of a bot instead of a portal. With access to employee data, conversational cues and behavioural touch-points, AI can make employee self-service a richer, more holistic and efficient experience. HR say that nearly half of all requests they receive are repetitive questions. AI-enabled self-service can spot common and repetitive questions and guide employees to relevant answers. This also opens up the scope of data mining to enhance the process by expanding the FAQ section and knowledge base articles. AI paves way for a leaner process, which improves communication and performance among teams. It empowers employees to resolve their own challenges, boosts engagement, saves time and makes them smart workers.

Benefits of AI-enabled self-service:

There is myriad of benefits by enabling artificial intelligence in self-service. It improves customer experience by providing personalized product recommendations, eliminates waiting in long queues by speeding up the purchase process, provides flexibility to customers and promotes self-reliance.

Enterprises leveraging AI for self-service increase efficiency and productivity, thus reducing cost, time and resources. Self-service systems also give invaluable insights into customer behavior and preferences that can be mined to improve sales and product. Using the AI data generated from vending machines, Coco Cola found out that a Sprite-Cherry drink combination was a consumer favorite and introduced it into the official beverage dispensing product line.

Companies can also boost their site-traffic as customers will have to visit their site for self-service requests. According to a study, 60% of people visit a company’s website before attempting to solve an issue.

AI-enabled self-service will only continuously improve a business’s customer satisfaction rates as AI will be able to provide surreal experiences the more it learns about the customers.

Subashini Suresh