Written by Boaz Amidor, guest in our CCM blog, for Buljan & Partners Consulting
In the face of complexity and change, software vendors and service providers strive to develop an efficient customer engagement strategy that is adaptive to technological changes. Increasing the adoption of self-service by customers is the new growth strategy of our times. But are most self-service experiences really worth the customer’s time?
Sadly, most of the time the answer is “no”.
“A lack of a well-defined self-service strategy is likely to lead to silo activities across channels and mismatched goals across the business, resulting in reduced benefits, an inability to meet customer needs and an increase in customer churn,” warns Helen Casewell, UX research manager at VoxGen. (Mycustomer.com, 2014).
Of the options available, self-service has become the clear preference amongst customers. In the article “Why You Need to Rethink Your Customer Self-Service Strategy”, Gartner predicts that by 2017, two-thirds of all customer service interactions will no longer require the support of a human intermediary (in 2014, comparatively, this was 55% of all interactions), (CustomerThink.com, 2015).
Key Ingredients for Best-in-Class Self Service Experience
Speed of Response
In today’s world, most reasonable customers expect rapid if not immediate responses when making transactions – especially when it comes to customer service. In a study conducted by Forrester which surveyed 7,000 US consumers, “71% of respondents said that valuing their time was the most important thing that a company could do to provide them with good customer service.”
Having said that, quality should not be compromised for speed. For example, when a “Chat now with our representative” box pop up on screen when browsing a product or service can be very positive, unless it says “Currently offline”. When customer’s see the message, “Currently Offline”, it conveys an image of laziness and lack of concern. Thus, this popup shouldn’t appear if representatives are offline.
Speed of response is challenging when there are multiple channels to monitor and never enough support staff. Support has always been seen as a cost center, but turning it around into a profit contributor is worth the investment.
Proactive Self Service (but only when it matters to the customer)
Customers want to feel that the company they are engaging with is “looking out for them” and that they are considered to be partners that are engaged in the company’s operations. Take automobile recalls – a huge problem with tremendous negative brand impact: In 2013 Toyota/Lexus/Scion issued nearly 5.3 million car and truck recall advisories. Because of this fiasco, the company now posts advisory notices online that notify customers in the event that there is a problem with a particular vehicle. The companies themselves want to limit brand damage and customers expect this proactive service to be offered, whenever possible, behind the scenes so that problems are addressed before they happen.
Personalized and Contextual
A best in class self-service experience requires every action by the service provider to take into account the history of the engagements with the customer. The automated self-service engine must be powerful enough to calculate the response that is tailored specifically to the customer. This is guaranteed to dazzle the customer.
Bring Self Service to Wherever the Customer Likes to Be
Whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter, by phone or email, making the engagement process easy for customers, means giving them access through their preferred channel in order to enable them to communicate through an interface within their comfort zone. The abundance of channels can make this seem like a significant challenge to a vendor, but it need not be as there are tools and design principles that can overcome those challenges.
Ensure Painless and Effortless Self Service with On-Screen Guidance
In terms of self-service in customer or employee training, the hottest trend right now is online guidance systems, that allow people to train themselves. These platforms allow people to learn how to use software platforms with simple, step-by-step instructions, overlaid onto the software they are learning. In this way, employees can complete the most complex tasks without any hand-holding. In the absence of such technology, learners struggle to figure out how to manage and operate the new software without being dependent on others (Customer Service, co-workers, etc.).
Using the above mentioned key ingredients ensure a smooth and effortless customer service experience, and the reward is almost immediate. According to Forrester, a 10% improvement alone in an enterprise company’s customer experience score, can translate into more than $1 billion in increased revenue.
WalkMe™ is an interactive online guidance and engagement platform. WalkMe™ provides a cloud-based service designed to help professionals – customer service managers, user experience managers, training professionals, SaaS providers and sales managers – to guide and engage prospects, customers, employees and partners through any online experience.
WalkMe is a 100% independent company to Buljan & Partners Consulting.
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