Self-service is now a must-have for contact centers to provide as an enhanced service option to improve the customer experience.
While companies traditionally perceived customer self-service options as an opportunity to save costs associated with live-agent service, today's self-service channels give customers yet another communication channel that they may prefer over phone-based communications. These options have become critical parts of a multichannel strategy.
Here are some benefits to offering customer self-service options:
Customers are more comfortable with self-service. Older generations have lived through the growing pains of customer self-service technology and have become more accepting of its use, especially as it has become more user-friendly. Younger generations are comfortable with self-service technology because they have grown up with it.
Self-service applications are a way of life. Self-service applications are a way of life, especially with the growth of mobile technology. Whether an individual is using an application such as Shazam or purchasing a product through Amazon, these applications are based on a self-service model. Regardless of their age, customers have been forced to become more comfortable with the self-service model, if they want to be able to utilize these types of services.
Customers have expanded traditional self-service by using community forums and self-service company websites. Customers may find informative service through peer interactions with other customers or with community-designated subject matter experts. Customers can also access articles, video or other resources in knowledge management systems.
Conversational voice response has made self-service easier. Conversational voice allows customers to interact with automation through normal speech, rather than listening to a list of prompts and then trying to decide which number to press.
Organizations have focused on improving the self-service experience. Feedback regarding customer frustration with self-service has led to improvements such as limiting menu options and levels in voice-response systems.
Challenges with customer self-service
Yes, it is critical to provide self-service options to customers, but whenever new opportunities exist, there are a number of downside impacts that must also be addressed.
Agents regularly handle more complicated inquiries. Self-service is effective for handling simple inquiries such as providing the location of a retail store or the balance for a checking account. As a result of automating these simpler transactions, agents will receive a higher percentage of complex inquiries and have less time to "catch their breath" while handling simpler inquiries.
Opportunities to enhance customer engagement may be reduced. Self-service interactions usually start with a customer asking a straightforward question and end with a simple answer being found. These interactions reduce the opportunities to engage customers and enhance their relationship with the organization.
While customer self-service began as a cost-saving initiative, it has become a critical offering from the contact center to improve the customer experience. On the other side, as with any alternative offering, self-service can place additional stress on agents and may take away from increased customer engagement.
Traveling a line on customer self-service
Customer journey mapping key to self-service options
Tips for building a knowledge management system
Dig Deeper on Customer self-service
Related Q&A from Scott Sachs
While multichannel marketing connects customers and companies through various forms of communication, omnichannel marketing takes it further and ... Continue Reading
Contact centers accommodate all channels of communication, which means hiring managers must train call center agents to keep up with customer demands. Continue Reading
Contact center agents often need to remember a number of passwords to log in to multiple applications. Single sign-on can alleviate that pain point ... Continue Reading