Debunking the web self-service myths – Part 1


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Surprisingly, despite the omni-channel world we now live in, there are still those who consider web self-service to be a second-rate customer support channel. There is a misconception that customers would actually prefer to be kept on hold, waiting to speak to a contact centre operator when they require assistance, rather than being able to find answers to their queries themselves via an organisation’s website.

Over a four-part blog series, we will be addressing some of the most common myths surrounding web self-service.

Part 1: “It’s fobbing customers off with a second-rate support channel”

With the average UK household owning more than three devices capable of connecting to the internet and one in five having more than six, doesn’t it make sense to proactively offer them the same level of customer service across web, e-mail, mobile and social channels as via the traditional phone channel?

As the number of devices consumers own, like tablets, smartphones, smartwatches, Google Glasses etc. grows, so do their expectations for the same level of customer service across multiple channels. Our own research revealed that 90% of consumers will always check a website before e-mailing or calling a company to find information. Therefore, if the majority of consumers that visit your website are unable to find information quickly and easily, you are failing them.

So what are the consequences of not providing customers with instant access to this information online via Virtual Agents, natural language FAQ knowledge-bases or live chat? New research published by ContactBabel states that 58% of calls to a contact centre result from poor website customer service or failure in another channel. This results in a higher cost-to-serve for an organisation and more crucially, potential loss of customers as they abandon making any further contact after not being able to find information straight away.

It therefore doesn’t just make good service sense by allowing customers to find information easily – improving customer satisfaction (CSAT) and retention rates – it also makes good financial sense. ContactBabel report that web self-service can deflect 25% of calls and 50% of e-mails and is estimated to be between 40-100 times cheaper than a live call to an agent.

Central to the success of a multi-channel customer service strategy, is the use of a centralised knowledge-base of information. Allowing customers to access a public-facing knowledge-base across all contact channels and also giving agents access to the same information internally, results in customers receiving the same consistent information across all touch-points.

It is evident however that many organisations still have quite a way to go to achieve this, with ContactBabel reporting that the majority still have customer service channel silos, with only 1 in 6 respondents claiming they have a tightly integrated view of the customer, regardless of the channel.

Despite recognising the importance of mobile and social customer service, the ContactBabel report also highlights that many organisations are failing to provide this.

Only 37% of respondents provide their website in a mobile friendly format
Only 21% of respondents using the mobile channel offer a web chat option
Only 26% of respondents feel strongly that they are offering a fully supported customer service channel via social media
In the words of the ContactBabel reports author, Steve Morrell: “Self-service can truly be ‘win-win’ for customers as well as businesses. In the past, most self-service has been about cutting businesses’ costs, but the joined-up thinking now being shown and the increasing acceptance that it’s now an omni-channel world is creating a coherent strategy that has the customer experience as well as cost management in mind.”

In part 2 of this series we will be addressing the web self-service myth: “It’s all about cutting jobs in the contact centre.”

Other content you may be interested in:

ContactBabel report – Inner Circle Guide to Self-Service.
White paper: How to Choose the Right Customer Service Software Vendor.

Neldi Rautenbach
Neldi shares insight and best practice tips on multi-channel customer service from Synthetix. Synthetix is a leading provider of online customer service solutions - working with some of the world's best-known brands. Synthetix create bespoke customer service and knowledge base software that enable customers to self-serve timely, accurate and consistent answers to their questions via the web, mobile, e-mail forms, social networks and in the contact centre.


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