The demand for self-service customer experience is literally exploding. In a recent survey, Forrester found that self-service was by far the most widely consumer-embraced method of customer service. In fact, 2014 was the first year in which self-service collectively surpassed phone as a consumer preference for customer service.
Done right, self-service has always promised to reduce costs and provide information about products and services efficiently to customers and prospects. It not only provides customers with answers and updates any time of day or night, but for companies, it also deflects a high volume of interactions from high-cost channels, such as phone calls, email, and support tickets.
But sadly, the self-service experience often does not match assisted service standards. It often is inconsistent across touchpoints (IVR, web, and mobile apps), impersonalized, and usually doesn’t ensure a path to agent assistance when needed.
Omnichannel is changing the game
The shift to omnichannel, along with knowledge assistance, personalization, proactive services, and multimodality, has already revolutionized agent-assisted customer service. It is now time to revolutionize your self-service strategy the same way, by breaking apart the silos between voice calls (IVR) and digital channels, putting knowledge front and center, strongly personalizing service delivery, and leveraging latest best practices around proactivity and multimodality. This next generation of self-service will allow your organization to increase call deflection while matching customer satisfaction scores of your assisted service.
Here are five key points to consider as you move to the next generation of self-service:
1. Omnichannel approach
Self-service historically has been delivered using a single channel. In most organizations this is Interactive Voice Response (IVR). Consumers are rapidly shifting to a variety of digital channels. While these channels are typically an improvement over the IVR experience, the inconsistency across channels is still a source of customer frustration. An omnichannel approach provides a seamless handoff between channels (such as IVR to a mobile app, or vice versa), and maintains context throughout the transaction history and journey.
2. Single source of knowledge for self- and assisted service.
A customer’s first and ongoing customer experience is strongly influenced by how a company provides knowledge, both internally and externally. The lack of investment in knowledge management can be linked to the Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report findings of a five-year decline in first contact resolution rates (from 85.2% in 2009 to 73.1% in 2014). A lack of knowledge management within self-service, and the inconsistency in knowledge between self- and assisted services definitely leads to high customer effort.
Customers who feel they are treated as individuals are more satisfied with their experience and more inclined to remain loyal. Loyal customers are good for business: they buy more, purchase more often, cost less to serve, and have higher retention rates. Self-service too often tends to be impersonal. Nevertheless, when now supported by the same platforms as the agent-assisted service, self-service can be highly personalized.
Improving proactive customer assistance on your website is an incredible opportunity. To capitalize on it, you must identify and take action at the moment of opportunity within each customer experience. Then, the right representative can engage at the right time, with the right message, to intercept a customer and offer assistance. This leads to a dramatic fall in customer effort while extensively improving both overall self- and assisted customer experience.
Self-service multimodality revolutionizes single channel self-service by enriching the presentation of information in one channel with assistance from another. For example, a customer on a mobile device can engage simultaneously over a multitude of synchronized channels and touchpoints, including chat, video, text, websites, IVRs, and mobile apps, all within a single, personalized interaction. This turns any given multimodal customer experience into just another smooth, seamless step in a long-term customer journey.
Join the self-service revolution now
Engage in the self-service customer experience revolution and take advantage of its outcomes: significant decreases in customer effort, outstanding increases in customer satisfaction, and further decreases in operational costs.
To learn more about the future of customer service, and in particular self-service, please download the Forrester report Trends 2015: The Future of Customer Service.