As customer expectations change, companies feel external pressure to deliver fast, easy, personalized and intuitive self-service. For many companies, the idea of self-service technology seems like a win-win proposition. Kiosks, websites, mobile apps, and other self-service technologies now let service businesses streamline transaction processes, reduce overhead, and potentially increase revenue — all while giving the customer more control over the service process. In reality, however, there are numerous examples of self-service technologies that have not delivered expected business benefits. To create a useful self service experience you need to know the idea from the beginning.
What is a self-service?
Self-service allows companies to provide online support to its customers without requiring any interaction with a representative from the company. The most common types of customer self-service include FAQs, knowledge base and online discussion forums.
Self-service is no longer “nice to have”. It’s a necessity to provide a positive customer experience. In fact, it has become so important that 70% of customers now expect a company’s website to include a self-service application.
Self-service offers customers 24-hour-a-day support and immediate access to information. Ultimately, the success of a customer self-service initiative depends upon the quality and quantity of information available as well as ease access to it.
Self-service key benefits
When customers have questions about a company’s products or services, where’s the first place they look for an answer? The Internet.
Today’s customers are accustomed to searching for answers online, and as a group are more educated and self-reliant. For simple issues and common questions, it’s much more efficient for both the company and customers to have an easily accessible page with all the answers.
Companies that provide rich support media online, including visual aids such as images and videos in addition to clear instructions and how-to guides, can help customers get back to business quickly. This improves customer satisfaction and frees up support agents, who can then focus on helping customers with more complex issues. It’s a win-win situation.
77 percent of US consumers say “valuing my time” is the most important part of good online customer service. They’re looking for more than correct answers or a quick response times. The speed is critical to customers and self service speed up the service.
In addition to desiring speedy service, consumers now expect 24/7 service. Whether or not your stores are actually open doesn’t matter – instant messaging, texting, Snapchat, and other elements of on-demand world have conditioned customers to expect immediate responses. Customers expect 24/7 service and self service options can guarantee this constant availability.
A study by Forrester Research and Oracle analyzed business costs when handling support in multiple customer service channels. The results found that web self-service can reduce costs in call center by as much as $11 per call! Now imagine you receive 3,000 calls per week, and you could be saving $1.7 million per year! This number is not as farfetched as it appears. Research by Accenture also found that by adding self-service options, companies could see $1-3 million in annual savings!
If these are not benefits then what is?
Companies can choose from different self-service technologies or can implement all of them.
- Web self service– the customer can access information and perform routine tasks over the Internet by searching a knowledge base or reviewing FAQs.
- Interactive Voice Response (IVR)– the customer can interact with an automated telephony system to perform specific tasks.
- Apps– the customer can interact with a software program on a mobile device to carry out specific tasks, such as check an account balance or transfer funds from one bank account to another.
- Kiosks– the customer can perform specific tasks such as checking in at an airport by interacting with a small physical structure that houses a computer and display screen.
- Self-checkout– the customer can scan, bag, and pay for purchases without human assistance.
Today‘s customers are not just ready for self-service; they actually prefer to use it over other forms of support! When self-service support is done right, it allows the customer to find information quickly, can reduce the number of calls or emails that your support team receives and lead to a greater customer experience. And that is how you keep customers happy!