A phone call to customer service to ask a relatively simple question, such as finding out an account balance, can cost a company infinitely more than a query on a self-service Web site. Companies are wising up to this, according to the latest from Frost & Sullivan, a San Antonio, Texas-based research firm.
Industry estimates for Web self-service versus a telephone call are at anywhere from 25 cents for a Web request to $8 and up for a phone call to a customer care agent. Some estimates even place the savings of a Web inquiry versus a phone inquiry at anywhere from $5 to $25 per interaction.
Self-service over the Web, specifically knowledge bases, are becoming a key part of online customer care and CRM initiatives, Frost & Sullivan said. The new report, "Web Self-Service Knowledge Base Solutions," found that the Web-based self-service knowledge base market generated revenues of $123 million in 2000. In 2007, this market is expected to increase to $1.6 billion.
Part of what is encouraging this boom is the increased use of self-service within government organizations, said Katrina Howell, industry analyst at Frost & Sullivan. In addition, as brick-and-mortar stores move online, they will continue to fuel the market.
Self-service knowledge bases can reduce the cost of answering customers' questions and increase their satisfaction, compared with voice, e-mail and text chats. By providing customers easy access to the information they're looking for, while reducing the cost of servicing those customers, companies can present a strong value proposition that will drive a lot of growth in the market, Howell said.
Customer service knowledge bases are rarely the first e-service purchase considered. Instead, the benefits of these systems are seen only after first adopting other applications, like e-mail management and less sophisticated service tools, according to Howell. These other systems often don't produce the results that companies are looking for, which makes the need for Web-based self-service even more obvious, she said.
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