“I’d rather do it myself!”

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The 1960’s housewife screamed, “Mother, I’d rather do it myself!” to her mother or in-law trying to help in her kitchen. I remember how this byline in a headache medicine commercial was repeated on playgrounds and campuses, in bridge parties and even sitcom skits. The ad must have built brand recognition for Anacin, but it also stated a basic human desire — we want to do things ourselves.

Now a growing body of evidence says that customers are expressing that desire by seeking self service options. They think they will find it easier to do things themselves rather than going through live representatives. We are seeing this trend in our study of how B2B companies are striving to become easier to do business with. For product ordering and support, customers are increasingly asking for and using self service options such as product ordering websites. In addition, customers demand high functionality on these channels, in keeping with their experiences as consumers using Amazon.com, other online retailers or even banking online.

Moreover, customers expect any self-service channel today to be well-designed. To use the Anacin commercial analogy again, customers are irritable unless their self-service experience is pain-free. According to CEB research reported in The Effortless Experience, 2013, customers are not happy when they embark on your self-service but then have to still contact a rep for resolution; which still happens too often.

CEB confirms a key takeaway we observed from working with companies streamlining customer self-service — becoming ‘easier to do business with’ offers not just a Win/Win but a ‘hat trick’ —

Win #1) Customers get an easier experience;

Win #2) Company receives higher customer loyalty and spend over time

Win #3) Company receives cost reduction by streamlining processes or customers shifting more to self- versus live-service channels or both

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