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The self-service strategies of the world's best CX leaders


In our latest piece looking at the trends and themes to emerge from the 2022 CX Leader of the Year applications, we unpack and analyse how some of the most successful professionals in the industry are utilising self-service in their customer experience programmes. 

23rd Jan 2023

With the well-documented consumer shift to digital support channels in recent years, it’s unsurprising that revamping and reinvigorating self–service systems was high on the agenda for many of our 2022 CXLOTY finalists.

So what actions did our finalists take, and what systems did they incorporate to capitalise on this facet of customer experience? And, perhaps most importantly, what can we glean from this about the role of self-service in CX?

Self-service is not a new concept, but it is a growing one. Whilst they aren’t the only player in the self-service game, chatbots are certainly one of the biggest, and they’re only getting bigger. 

A recent study found that the total number of chatbot messaging apps accessed globally reached 3.5 billion in 2022, with a continual rapid rise in use likely to mean 9.5 billion by 2026, and more than 10 billion by the following year.

But self-service isn’t limited to a purely digital experience. Following the successful launch of their first checkout-free store, UK supermarket giant Tesco have recently announced plans to open three more of their self-service GetGo branches.

Be it digital or physical, self-service is becoming ubiquitous within the customer service industry, and capitalising on its potential is becoming a necessity for CX departments.

This was certainly the case for our 2022 CXLOTY winner, Maneesha Bhusal, whose self-service improvements were key to the CX turnaround she brought to JD.ID.

As CX director, Maneesha oversaw the introduction of a chatbot and self-service solution that allowed customers to self-serve on selected areas of touchpoints within the customer journey.

She was also something of a pioneer within her field, becoming the first person to launch a chatbot within the company’s Whatsapp channel, resulting in a 30% deflection rate.

But Maneesha wasn’t alone in rolling out self service as part of her CX programme.

Placing self-service centre stage

Whilst self-service was a key aspect of the CX visions of many of our finalists, for Agnes So it was the beating heart.

Working as the head of customer support and engagement for HotDoc, an engagement platform that services 10 million healthcare patients in Australia, the pandemic understandably led to a vast increase in customer service interactions.

In order to help their small team cope with the increased workload, Agnes not only sought to revamp the self-service strategy, but to make self-service the primary destination for customers looking for help.

One of the biggest challenges that Agnes faced was gaining buy-in for her self-service strategy when much of their customer base was tech adverse.

She was able to overcome this reluctance to change by focusing data around the following areas:

  • The time saved answering questions which were repeatable and easily answered using self service.
  • The time saved by solving repeatable problems which could be reimagined through new product features or design.
  • The FTE costs saved by moving to a one-to-many training strategy, rather than their existing one-to-one training model.
  • How providing speed and ease for a customer is an investment in their happiness and would lead to stronger NPS, CSAT as well as being a reason people will stay with their platform and services. 

Once buy-in was achieved, she still needed to make considerable changes to the existing processes in order to maximise the impact of the self-service strategy.

“I transformed my team from a handful of support agents to a team that now encompasses Tier 1 and 2 agents, as well as support team leaders, knowledge and content writers, a customer insights contributor and more recently, an events and community manager.

“I created a new process by which our content would be created, verified and put at the front and centre of not just every customer, but every employee. I also focused on mapping and rolling out a product release process in collaboration with the product team, to insert customer insights into the heart of our product cycle from the conception of the idea, through to management post deployment. The COVID-19 pandemic provided a great case study in stress testing these changes.

“To date, the work we’ve done to improve our self-service strategy has worked to keep our service team small, while our patient and clinic customer base grew. I’m most proud of how we’ve been able to prove that investment in self-service and learning for our customers can equate to true ROI for the business.

“Since starting on this transformation, our self-service score has doubled from an average of 20 in 2021 to 40 by 2022, or more than three times the industry average. Without our work on self-service, our customer teams would have had to double (or in some months even triple) in order to account for the contact volume coming into our channels.”

Digital self-service: From chatbots to help centres

Chatbots have become synonymous with self-service. Like gin and tonic, fish and chips, Bonnie and Clyde, and even Ant and Dec – it feels odd to think of one without the other.

So unsurprisingly, they played a major role in many of our finalists’ self-service programmes.

Philip Joseph – senior vice president of customer experience and service operations at Indonesian telecommunications company, Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison – viewed improving the deployment and sophistication of the company’s existing chatbots as vital to fulfilling his CX vision.

“We relooked into our chatbot process and introduced more self-assistance checks, by integrating our chatbot across all social care channels thereby enabling customers to independently manage their queries end to end without any live agent assistance.”

Just as it did with Agnes So and HotDoc, the pandemic severely impacted Joseph’s CX strategy. In order to adapt to this change and the increased dependence on digital channels, he oversaw the incorporation of a chatbot within the company’s WhatsApp channel.

“We developed a high-powered chatbot for WhatsApp from 1,500 individual APIs, addressing over 200 individual use cases.

“The introduction of this chatbot led to a 168% growth in monthly active users, with the chatbot capable of addressing 92% of customer inquiries without live agent support. Through this deployment, we were successful in increasing the overall customer satisfaction score in 6 months by 40%.”

David Chowdhury, general manager of experience innovation at Robi Axiata Limited, also sought to make changes to the company’s chatbots as part of his goal to improve CX via a digital transformation.

“A new AI-powered chatbot has been released, capable of understanding, validating and solving customer problems - internally checking customers' network experiences, usage, devices, SIM status etc in real-time, and offering intelligent solutions, while also logging the complaint automatically in CRM if it is an issue that cannot be addressed there and then.

“3,000 service requests a month are now being resolved by this innovation, resulting in a 25% reduction in specific complaint SLAs.”

Another popular digital self-service strategy adopted by our finalists was the implementation of help centres that could provide customers with the information/advice they required, in an easily accessible, interface-friendly manner.

Chowdhury was again a frontrunner in this regard, introducing a smartphone app that allowed customers to perform what he dubbed, “self-care”.

Sinch the launch of this app, it’s gone from strength to strength, with a 32% increase in rating (3.1 to 4.1), 14 times increase in 30-day active (45K to 630K within 3 months of app launch and now 12MN+), 17 times increase in monthly app revenue (0.5 MN to 8.59 MN), and 22 times increase in new app users (10K to 221K).

In many ways, the self-service system deployed by CXLOTY finalist Ana Marantes, is a chatbot-helpcentre hybrid.

The ‘knowledgebase’ section of the company’s website allows customers to find solutions to their problems through information banks that are accessed with a keyword search option that works with a similar interface to a chatbot.

The head of customer service for Estoril Sol Digital, saw 24/7 support and speed as two of the biggest obstacles to providing a high level of customer experience. Not only did the ‘knowledgebase’ help overcome these obstacles, it also reduced the costs involved in extra workload since it led to a decrease of email and chat volumes.

“This project is helping our customers to find answers and solutions to their questions without the need of contacting our customer service. It also allows the team to be more efficient, productive and to focus on the most important and urgent issues. Customers are also able to get efficient 24/7 support.”

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