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Help Your Customers Help Themselves

28th Apr 2015
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I have to admit. I hate calling customer service hotlines. Of course sometimes it's simply easier to explain your problem to a real person. But then again it would probably be quicker to find the solution online and not being stuck on the phone waiting for a person to take your call, only to realise that the agent is stressed out, because he or she has 10 other customers waiting in line.

And I am not alone on this.

A survey of customers and managers compiled by Detecon Consulting for five different industries found that 78% embrace customer self-service. For 60% of respondents the ability to help themselves even represents a criterion for or against a brand. This is indeed interesting, because customer self-service is often associated with companies being unable to handle their customers’ requests. But what if a company wouldn’t simply cut costs by reducing customer service requests that come via the phone? What if this would also result in better service and happy customers?

Customers are More Demanding

Consumers are more demanding than ever. As competition in the service economy increases and differentiation in saturated markets becomes more difficult, businesses need to find creative ways to interact with their customers. In a recent report PricewaterhouseCoopers states that “the next generation of customer service will be proactive, integrated and omnipresent”. Consumers are already used to transactional self-service that is often found in online banking or holiday booking platforms. It allows users to transfer money or change their bookings. In addition web-based customer self-service provides information using chat, email or social media channels. Online self-service portals can be a great way to empower customers to help themselves. As long as those are easy to use and secure when it comes to personal data.

Self-Service with a Code Scanner

M-Way, a  Swiss retailer for electric vehicles like e-bikes, e-scooters and e-cars, takes customer self-service to a different level. Users having a problem with their e-bike can use a smartphone to simply scan a QR code in order to retrieve a manual or send a service request to M-Way. The data on the e-bike is thereby transferred through the cloud. The customer can either use the manual or follow a checklist to solve the problem by himself or send a service request to the company.

Once the service request is registered with M-Way and the customer has suggested an appointment, a service technician is assigned to check on the bike. The advantage: This service is available anytime, anywhere and it proactively involves the customer in the service process. Users are informed at all times, because they can view the status of open service requests, change the appointment and track the whole history of the vehicle. Not only customers profit from such a code scanner self-service. Businesses have fewer calls, reduced costs and most importantly: the ability to analyze service data that again can be used to improve products and services.  

As devices become more complex and connected to the Internet, consumers expect fast, flexible and multi-channel support. Gartner predicts that by 2018 five percent of customer service cases will be initiated by Internet-connected devices. No doubt, customer self-service is coming. Have you incorporated it in your customer service strategy?

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