“Oh, how the times have changed”. In just a few decades, a lot has changed in the way consumers interact with brands.
Today’s demanding customers want instant gratification. Many organizations are grappling to cope with all the advancements, while they are still stuck with the traditional customer engagement model that is primarily centered around telephonic interactions and emails. No wonder, customer support is looked upon by many organizations as a separate cost center.
All too often, customers hate to be left waiting on hold, or passed back and forth like a hot potato with the plague by disenchanted customer service agents. Customers also do get irked on being unable to find contextual information, despite spending hours looking for a resolution to their questions/issues on the company’s website.
The unfortunate reality is that businesses don’t always furnish the information their customers expect at any desired moment, which implies fewer opportunities to convert. Self-service is an optimal, economical and long-term solution to address ever-changing customer expectations. Customer experience is way more than just a friendly voice on the phone. It is about how we empower customers to get what they want with minimum inconvenience.
Re-defining Traditional Engagements
In today’s digital world, customer experience is what grows your business. As customer expectations change with the advent of new technologies, consumers want and expect to be able to solve their own problems through self-service options.
From being a “nice-to-have” channel, self-service model is now a “must-have” channel. 72% of customers prefer to use self-service support rather than phone or email support, according to Forrester. Self-service is gaining traction. The companies that lag in adopting the self-service ecosystem, are missing a goldmine of opportunities to improve customer satisfaction.
A self-service ecosystem plays a critical role in scaling companies and delivers more value to customers. It also helps an enterprise optimize internal resources and empowers its current customers to grow in their businesses. It reduces Level 0 or Level 1 support inquiries and cuts the costs considerably.
Leveraging innovative and disruptive technologies such as AI, biometrics, robotic process automation (RPA) and machine learning search algorithms, most contextual information can be delivered at the customer’s fingertips across various channels, enhancing self-service and improving omnichannel experiences. It can also reduce the number of calls made to the contact center.
In a good self-serve environment, key metrics monitored in contact centers are:
- Reduction in assisted support
- Increase in issue resolution rate
- Increase in CSAT
- Increase in NPS
- Increase in conversion rate
- Abandon Rate
- Increase in call deflection rate to self-service channels
- Agent amplification and productivity
The Self-Service Economy is a Win-Win:
Organizations must adopt a new model of self-service technologies that aim to “help me help you”. Customers are bored of the traditional self-service model that offers “help yourself” model. Businesses need to typically understand the dynamic shift in the consumers’ acceptance of the increasingly intelligent automated interactions.
A good self-service ecosystem must deliver these:
- Online product buying ability
- Dynamic online bill payment
- Instant solutions round-the-clock
- Status update on service request resolution
- Regular in-context advice and consultation across multi-channels of engagement
- Tips and hacks for maximized savings
- Historical insight into all interactions with the business
- Visibility into relevant offers, based on consumers’ personal interests
A self-service ecosystem focusing on convenience, simplicity, and optimization helps enterprises involve their customers in their businesses. It encourages and enables customers to recommend ideas for product improvements or even seek their suggestions to solve complex problems. With access to FAQs, Knowledge Base, discussion forums, online customer reviews and ratings platform, enterprises can make customers feel part of the community. Such an involvement builds mutual trust, which in turn can trigger their product purchase decisions.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the brilliant industry examples to understand the utility of this new disruptive, customer-centric ecosystem.
IKEA: Its self-service “do-it-yourself” approach has been such a major success story in home and commercial furnishings industry. IKEA has been successful at delivering a differentiated customer experience by implementing self-service model correctly – right from shopping to checkout to assembly.
Apple's iPhone Support App to Promote Self-Service: The application offers troubleshooting recommendations, patches customers with reps via phone, and enables live chats between customers and Apple’s support team.
Amazon: The platform discourages the customers from buying an inferior product and rather recommends superior-quality products bought by other like-minded customers. Such is the power of self-service content.
Devices and platforms such as Amazon Alexa (Echo), Apple Siri, and Google Home have taken the user experience several notches up. They are interactive and can field questions from users to carry out instructions and simplify daily interactions through natural dialog. Consumers can book a cab, check in for their flight status, get reminders of their favorite TV shows, and much more. These self-service options have made customers’ lives easier than ever.
New age consumers have a strong aversion to having to reach out to a company multiple times or sharing the similar information over and over again. 89% of successful businesses recognize how critical it is to anticipate customer needs with assistive experiences.
It’s critical to meet consumer expectations with thoughtfully designed customer self-service portals. Your customers can turn to your competitors as quickly as Google will take them there. The self-service capabilities, if integrated right within the business ecosystem, provides expanded opportunity to capture valuable customer data, which on a macro level, can help the business cultivate a design culture that in turn influences tweaks to the products and services from the ground up.