The Value Of Self-Service In A Digital World

If you’ve ever had to write a cheque in the last 12 months, you’ll have almost certainly reflected on how technology has changed this type of transaction for the better. You may also have considered how the 45 minutes trying to locate your cheque book in the first could have been more productively used.

The digital revolution has changed the mindset of us as consumers, as we embrace tools and technology that makes our lives more efficient and productive.

Nowhere is this more prevalent than customer service with the arrival of Intelligent Self-Service and the opportunities it brings.

The Evolution Of The Consumer

We used to accept cheque as a reasonable way to send and receive money. We then moved to the debit card as it became obvious the benefit of making a transaction in real time was the new normal, not to mention the convenience of a thin piece of plastic over a small book.

As the online world grew and evolved, online banking and apps made the world an even more convenient place. And that became the new normal again.

Our expectations of convenience, reliability and real-time response changed our approach to consumer finance and we now expect a minimal level of service.

The same is true of customer service. The rapidly changing digital landscape is transforming the customer service experience whilst at the same time adding layers of complexity and legacy hangover into organisations who are struggling to cope.

The Spectre Of Legacy

The truth is, many customer service models weren’t set up to embrace these changes and due to the customer service team working in the here and now, very little future planning or review has been done.

CRM systems are just about working, but datasets are fragmented across the many traditional portals for customers and as the routes in for customers increase, it’s a losing battle to compete in a modern world and it can be hard to see how to move with the times.

Thankfully, Intelligent Self-Service and Artificial Intelligence open up a new world of opportunity and, carefully implemented, can actually propel an organisation from the dark ages into a bright future where they not only catch up with competitors but lead the way.

Plug In Your Blender

Gartner defines Self Service as:

“A blend of customer-initiated interaction technologies that are designed to enable customers to service themselves.”

Self-Service looks to flip the legacy approach and put the power back with the customer, whilst at the same time pulling fragmented systems together to create a smooth blend of options that work efficiently and effectively for all touch points.

Self-service capabilities can be integrated into various digital tools, such as enterprise software, mobile apps, and online stores to break down those historical barriers and bring true value to the organisation.

The shift is profound. Consider the before and after of Self-Service:

Before Self-Service

  • Every single customer service instance required interaction with a team member
  • Often customers would be asking for the same information or solution to a problem
  • Long call queues or email response times built, damaging your reputation and customer satisfaction
  • New channels caused new problems as integration was difficult and teams operated as silos
  • Information was being constantly lost or held on systems that made sharing or learning impossible
  • Your team’s morale was low

After Self-Service

  • The customer can begin to find a solution to the query at the exact moment it happens
  • Commons solutions are held in a central knowledge base saving a large percentage of both your team and your customer’s time
  • Call queues and long response time become a thing of past
  • Scaling up new touch points and channels becomes easier through better technology implementation and more resource in the team
  • Knowledge is being held centrally, and can be updated instantly with the most effective solution
  • Your team can focus on higher level actions and improve both their skill sets and morale

The Tools

Self Service brings a wealth of tools to help achieve this. Chatbots can deal with low hanging fruit quickly and effectively, customised to reflect your brand or house style and working from constantly evolving Knowledge Bases that always have the best solution or response. Online Communities allow your customers to connect with other customers who can help solve problems and increase brand loyalty.

These tools are also enabling 24/7 coverage of customer service. Artificial Intelligence is always on, and timezone changes allow your community to remain response even during out of hours working. FAQ pages can cover a variety of information for the minimal time investment of a click and a few minutes of reading for your customer.

If you’re still yet to be convinced, consider this stat from Microsoft’s research:

“92% of U.S. customers expect a brand or organisation to offer self-service.”

It’s time to embrace the power of Intelligent Self-Service.