The Future of Customer Service: Three strong self-service cases


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More and more companies are investing in self-service. The pure online players have done an excellent job of elaborating and fine-tuning the concept. They came up with the idea out of necessity: when they started out, these companies were simply too small to install a personalized customer service. An efficient self-service channel was their only option to develop a good customer relationship. Banks were also among the early adopters of the idea. Online banking was one of the main activities of the early internet surfers. Banks introduced this application purely from an efficiency point of view. Today, customers expect them to provide this service.

In my paper ‘From personal to self to crowd service’ you can read all details about this evolution:

Companies from various sectors experiment with or make a living from self-service. The three examples below couldn’t be further apart: an offline retailer, a pure online player and a financial giant. Still, all three have integrated self-service into their customer service strategy.

Anytime Fitness

Anytime Fitness is the world’s fastest-growing fitness chain. In a saturated market, this company still manages to make a difference. They’re open round the clock. An electronic security system provides 24hr access. The company obviously has personal trainers on staff but there is also a self-service solution. Customers can take video lessons 24 hours a day. The personal trainers have recorded instruction videos of a broad range of training sessions. Apart from the self-service option (in an offline retail channel), Anytime Fitness also has a site with nutritional and training advice for the individual customer. This enables customers to continue their health plans at home thanks to their fitness club. This self-service application is free for members but is also available for non-members in return for a monthly fee. is a daughter of, which has ranked among the world’s fastest-growing companies for a number of years now. The company masters the art of offering an excellent self-service with a personal safety net to fall back on if necessary. The entire purchase process is automated and this also goes for the changing of bookings. In case of unexpected changes, staff will sometimes call customers. In many cases these are proactive outbound calls to inform customers of changes made to a booking. Incidentally, the self-service process works perfectly on mobile devices. Mobile bookings went from 1 billion in 2012 to 3 billion in 2013. Data integration is obviously available. The different channels are interconnected so the complete customer history stays available

Rabobank: new mortgage system

Rabobank Nederland invests in self-service. As a financial player Rabobank already has lots of experience in this subject area, but in the coming years they want to take it one step further with their new digital mortgage system. Customers who wish to take out a mortgage can now compile their own customer file. Five years ago, no bank could envision customers ever using online banking for anything other than basic transactions. Today, a large percentage of customers are apparently receptive to this self-service approach. Without going into detail, Rabobank was surprised at how many of its customers prefer this approach. The digital service comes with a personal backup system: they can ask an employee of a local branch for assistance.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Steven Van Belleghem
Steven Van Belleghem is inspirator at B-Conversational. He is an inspirator, a coach and gives strategic advice to help companies better understand the world of conversations, social media and digital marketing. In 2010, he published his first book The Conversation Manager, which became a management literature bestseller and was awarded with the Marketing Literature Prize. In 2012, The Conversation Company was published. Steven is also part time Marketing Professor at the Vlerick Management School. He is a former managing partner of the innovative research agency InSites Consulting.


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