3 Reasons Why Self-Service Is Killing Your Customers


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Sometimes we’re glad for a self-service option. It speeds up various tasks and gives us independence. But other times, the convenience comes at the cost of some extremely important customer interactions. Some companies are in danger of going too far with customer self-service. Dead ends in the process leave customers frustrated because they have to start all over, repeat account information or wait on hold. Following are the top three reasons why self-service may be reaching a breaking point with your customers.

1. Customers are growing weary

Do you ever feel like you are being pushed into self-service when you know that a quick and simple conversation with a real person is all the situation requires? The mundane process of walking through voice or website menu system has become a loathsome chore for many. It’s a cliché. Ironically, we all do it regardless because we are conditioned to believe that getting through to a real person will be even more cumbersome and difficult. Is there any relief in sight?

2. Some issues are too complex

Customers with more complex needs want to interact directly with reps because they feel it’s a more efficient mode of communication for them. Whether it’s more efficient for you is beside the point. Remember, the customer is the one with the task to complete. Don’t impede their progress by making them fill out long forms online with unclear questions that require explanation…with no one there to explain it.

3. Not all channels are suited for self-service…so quit trying

Consumers increasingly wish to communicate with companies using newer technologies and value having access to multiple channels, such as click to call, SMS, web chat or mobile apps. They select these channels because they think it will result in faster, more convenient service. When companies try to inject self-service into these channels, it’s like placing a roadblock in the middle of the highway. The pathway to quick and simple service is now cut off and you’ve sent a clear message that you don’t want to talk to, or help your customers.

Bridging the Gap between Self-Service and Live Service

Even with well-deployed self-service applications boasting high call-completion rates, great customer service consists not only of technology, but of processes and great interactions with people as well. Don’t give the impression that speaking with a real person is a last-resort option. Don’t eliminate one-on-one interactions and squander opportunities to show customers you care. Don’t impede customer progress. Help them get stuff done with your business. Sometimes this means talking. Don’t be afraid of it. Don’t let operational efficiency cloud your customer experience judgement.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Eric Camulli
As Vice President for 7signal, Eric is focused on helping organizations bring high quality and highly productive experiences to people using Wi-Fi networks everywhere. In today's connected economy, our dependency on robust, reliable Wi-Fi is paramount. Eric is dedicated to ensuring that companies deliver peak wireless performance so that they can compete in a marketplace exploding with wireless devices.


  1. Great and insightful post, Eric. You are absolutely right….self service is great when it reduces effort and the time spent by customers in getting something done. However, when a company crosses that plane and makes self-service an “effort-full” rather than an “effort-less” feature, then it risks the danger of losing that customer. More and more studies are showing that effort is a primary contributor to customer defection — if they think you are too hard to do business with you, they will drop you quicker than you can say “IVR”. The key is for Customer Experience leadership to detect when self-service has crossed over that “effort” plane and become a nuisance and transformed a process that was supposed to be easy, to one that is much more frustrating than it is worth. How do you know when you have crossed that plane? Talk to your customers, perhaps?

  2. I couldn’t agree more, John. Customer effort is key. Time to task completion is becoming increasingly important to a customer base that has the world in its pockets and at their fingertips. Measuring this may be helpful in determining patience thresholds and loyalty breaking points. Also, software should be able to detect customer effort and then take action to save the situation. For example, after two (so called) invalid responses, a bridge to a live person could be instantly provided via chat or a callback. It needs to be intelligent though. Otherwise, it too, runs the risk of impeding progress and inhibiting a customer’s forward momentum.


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