The Future of Self-Service

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Not All Customers Want to Help Themselves

Self-service is an increasingly sought-after offering, as digital-native consumers now expect to troubleshoot issues on their own before reaching out to a representative. This should come as no surprise, as consumers have always demanded the breadth of options that comes with sophistication and personalization. (A recent study found that about 80% of shoppers expect retailers to have the latest technology.) But many companies have taken automation and self-service offerings a step too far, offering a “one size fits all” approach that relies exclusively on self-service. Sure, it allows for call center cost cutting and fewer human resources, but a fully automated, self-service customer service operation is not going to meet customers’ expectations and may even create frustrations and friction between the company and the customer.

Unraveling the Customer

For CMOs and CXOs to understand which customer service offerings to invest in, they must first reevaluate their target audience with customers’ specific needs and pain points in mind. Customer journey analytics are the key to success here. The more research and customer data normalization business leaders can accomplish, the better they can understand the needs of their customer. This insight supports the quality and accuracy of the self-service engine; when brands understand their customer’s most frequently asked questions and common routes to resolution, they can adjust their automation to offer those answers on the first try and minimize time to resolution.

It’s important to strike a balance between self-service and human-powered customer service, and that strategy should be adjusted based on customer base and target audience expectations. Take, for example, a customer dealing with a delicate personal problem such as identity theft or fraud; they are more likely to want to speak with a human representative to gain empathy and ensure an accurate understanding of the issue and subsequent resolution. On the other hand, a customer encountering a routine return/exchange question will be better suited to a self-service line. This also varies by generational differences and personality preferences – more digital-savvy customers are more likely to seek out a resolution themselves, while others may find it more comforting to have a human on the case.

The ability to accurately triage and offer customers more channels and venues for customer service will, in turn, build customer loyalty and create stickier relationships. The companies that are investing their time into expanding and building upon their customer experience with diverse, sophisticated offerings will see significant ROI. In turn, we’ll start to see companies get creative with their customer service offerings to monetize this demand for personalized CX.

New Business Models Emerge

The future of customer service may look very different. We are starting to see unique, “pay for personalization” business models emerge for customer service, which include the offering of different customer service levels and price points, in which the customer would pay a small fee for access to a human agent and more for someone local. This trend – and the willingness of customers to shell out extra money for a personalized experience, emphasizes how important a frictionless issues resolution experience has become.

Some say that the future of customer experience is self-service. While that may be true, self-service cannot be effective on its own, and especially not without intensive customer journey analytics powering the automation behind it. With the diversity of customer personas that every organization encounters, successful businesses will be the ones to offer a wide buffet of customer service options, though a number of channels, all orchestrated to be timed and personalized based on the customer’s journey.

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