The Role of Self-Service in Customer Service

The scenario: a customer receives your product, but he runs into a snag when assembling it. Or, she orders your online service but can’t log-in. The first thought for both of these customers used to be to pick up the phone to call you with their questions. This is no longer the case. Today, customers go online to find answers.

Research by Microsoft reveals that 90 percent of consumers today expect a brand or organization to offer a self-service customer support portal. According to Capterra, 60 percent of consumers view a brand with a mobile-responsive self-service option more favorably than one that doesn’t. Finally, Gartner predicts that by Gartner predicts that by 2020 a customer will manage 85 percent of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human.

Self-service is a win-win strategy for any contact center. It allows companies to provide customer support without agent interaction, while empowering customers to find answers when and how they want. For these reasons, providing self-service options is a key component in customer experience strategy.

What is customer self-service?
Self-service means your customers receive the support they need without interacting with a representative from your company. The most common types of customer self-service include:

  • FAQs: A centralized repository of common customer questions designed to be user-friendly and easy to use. 
  • Online knowledge base: A  database that includes how-to’s, tutorials and other useful information.
  • Self-checkout: Allows customers to choose, compare, and buy products without any agent interaction.
  • Interactive voice recognition (IVR): Customers interact with an automated voice system that directs them where they need to go based on a series of options.
  • Chatbots: Chatbots are computer programs designed to respond to specific questions or commands. They are either built with pre-defined questions and pre-determined responses or are artificial intelligence bots that can answer questions through their learning from previous pseudo-conversations.

Benefits of Self-Service
Consider the stats above: customers want – even expect – self-service options, which means by providing them, you are helping to improve customer satisfaction and overall experience. But that’s not the only benefit of self-service:

  • Retention: This is a direct tie-in to the customer experience benefit of self-service. In fact, according to one study, companies who offered self-service support experienced an 85 percent year-over-year increase in customer retention rates, compared to those without self-service.
  • Cost efficiency:  An in-depth study by Forrester Research and Oracle analyzed business costs when handling support in multiple customer service channels. The results found that web self-service can reduce costs by as much as $11 per call. Consider this: if you receive 3,000 calls per week, this means you could be saving $1.7 million per year. Research by Accenture found that by adding self-service, companies could see $1-3 million in annual savings.
  • Timeliness: Your customers want their questions to be answered quickly, whenever they are asked. Self-service provides this because it’s available around the clock, According to a recent study, a key attribute of good customer experience is a fast response time.
  • Availability: When customers can help themselves with questions, it frees up your agents to handle more complex tasks or generate more leads.

It should be obvious that self-service is something you can’t ignore. If your customer base has outgrown your customer service reps’ capacity, you have a large backlog of unresolved queries, or you are receiving the same questions often (“How do I reset my password?”), it’s probably time you consider offering self-service options. Not only will things like FAQ’s, online knowledge bases and chatbots provide your customers with the form of support they want, you can enjoy the benefits of decreased costs and more productive agents. To learn more about how ASK has helped clients utilize self-service options to grow business while improving customer experience, schedule a free demo today.