While there are many trends helping to transform self-service customer support, few garner as much conversation as automation.

The A-word.

To some, the word automation creates nauseating waves of existential dread. Automation will make traditional customer support roles obsolete, they whisper. Chatbots are taking over.

Yet there is another, a more tempered view that has gained traction over the past few years: automation is not likely to steal every last customer support job, but it will transform these roles significantly.

The “Shift-Left” self-service model

As customer self-service evolves thanks to new technologies and approaches, support organizations have the opportunity to automate—or mostly automate—certain lower-tier customer support interactions. This is what HDI and other self-service champions call “Shift-Left,” a term that is gaining wider adoption.

To wit:

Out of Level 1, indeed. As Atkinson points out, while automation is busy handling simple, repeat issues (think password resets and where do I find my license number-type requests), lower tier agents have more time to focus elsewhere.

He also makes an important distinction: automation isn’t necessarily unassisted self-service—“Level 0,” in HDI parlance. Rather, automation is often mostly unassisted—“Level 0.5,” as it were. In both cases, automation is hardly eliminating support jobs, but instead enabling support teams to leverage headcount where it will have the most efficient impact.

A shift doesn’t happen without content

At least not as effectively as it might otherwise. Regardless of the semantics of Shift-Left (as important as they might be), or where automation will ultimately fit in, organisms still need food and oxygen to carry on. That is to say, self-service frameworks need content.

Ideally, this content is well-optimized for the micromoments that drive self-service and AI-assisted support interactions. If we’re to shift left, it will be our content that enables AI to do its work at “Level 0.5,” that enables purely unassisted self-service at Level 0.

And it will be content that enables agents to be more efficient and, ultimately, makes a support call unnecessary.

Additional categories: Customer Support, Knowledge Management