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Will self-service kill customer care?

10th Jun 2016
Content Writer Open Access BPO
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Customer self-service reduces call volume and repeat transactions. But how does this affect the customer experience? Check out these insights.

Customer self-service is on the rise as corporations are trying to make customer care as efficient as possible. Once businesses have a clear idea of how to build a portal that will serve as a knowledge base accessible to customers, it’s easy to remove call center traffic and ease the flow of customer transactions. Think of the benefits: reduced costs, more satisfied customers, and happier agents.
 
The core of customer self-service is an omnichannel presence, which is not a new concept at all. If you put yourself in customers’ shoes, you’ll know just how beneficial this approach is, especially when combined with self-service options. Although balancing your performance across multiple channels can be challenging, and may even end up in a major flop if not fully optimized, the promise of being present everywhere is huge.
 
However, brands are worrying whether all the extra effort toward building a customer self-service portal is worth it. It might lessen interaction time and make brands appear more distant. What will happen when customers can just go to YouTube, rather than dial your hotline, to seek solutions?
 
From an entrepreneur’s perspective, the trouble with self-service is that consumers’ attachment to products may not extend to the brand. This largely puts customer loyalty at risk. After all, there may be limited interaction between the company and its community, which begs the question “Can this approach really kill brands’ intimacy with customers?”
 
Self-service does mean that you care.
 
The biggest misconception about promoting self-service is that brands are leaving customers to rot away with their problems, which is completely not the case. If you think about it, helping customers help themselves is a great way to show that you care. It expands people’s options about how they want to solve a problem and allows them to make their own decisions when it comes to the products or services they purchased.
 
Research from Nuance has found that most customers would rather self-serve than resolve matters with an agent.
 
This just shows that the phone option is not applicable to everyone. The surge of mobile applications, allowing customers to gain access to brands’ knowledge base, influences the popularity of self-service. Seventy-five percent (75%) of consumers say that they actually find self-service to be more convenient, while only 6% said they still prefer speaking to agents. Mobile apps, as a customer self-service portal, are also indicative of innovation, according to 92% of the Nuance survey participants.
 
A self-service portal allows quick problem resolution.
 
It can be extremely frustrating for customers to wait 10 minutes or more before they’re connected to an agent only to find that it would only take just a minute or two for their complaints to be solved. Imagine how much time you and your customers can save if you compile a list of FAQs or create short, informative videos.
 
Contact centers can reduce call traffic and repeat transactions.
 
The one loophole of phone calls as a customer care channel is that the contents are not retrievable. Unless callers intentionally record the entire conversation for future use, which is unfortunately not a common practice, their only option is to call you again. That’s why emails, videos, and other forms of retrievable online content work well in eliminating repeat transactions and accommodating customers with more complicated concerns.
 
When is a customer self-service portal not applicable?
 
Despite its several benefits, self-service is not the answer to everything. And no, it will neither replace human call center agents nor kill brand–client connections.
 
There will be instances that would require human intervention, and call center agents offer something that no online content can. When consumers encounter more complex issues that warrant an expertise beyond their own, they’ll be turning to agents who can provide the kind of customer support they need. When there are complicated queries or special requests, customers will still be reaching for the phone. If they want to upgrade their services or seek your advice, they’ll surely talk to you. These are all opportunities for you to improve the customer experience and invest your efforts toward building customer loyalty.
 
The key to perfecting your customer self-service portal, along with other channels such as phone, web chat, and email, is balance. There are plenty of ways to show your community that you care, whether through providing customer support, improving your products and services, and giving them a platform to voice out their opinions. The rise of one channel doesn’t mean the end of others—it simply widens customers’ choices to address individuality and make way for service personalization.

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By Neha Gupta
05th Oct 2016 06:12

Self-service is a trend and companies are providing it to their customers for their convenience. It is a true fact that customers prefer self-service solutions rather than calling customer support team but there can be instances when they need human intervention. But that simply doesn't mean that companies shouldn't go for self-service solutions. Definitely, they can provide the self-service to reduce the volume of calls and save their operational and support costs.

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