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Is Gartner’s self-service prophecy unlikely to be realised?

24th Feb 2015
Editor MyCustomer
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It was 2011 when Gartner first made the prediction that 85% of customer relationships would be managed without human intervention.

Four years on, there’s no doubting that the thinking around self-service has shifted on the side of both business and consumer: research by Amdocs found that 75% of surveyed consumers said they would prefer to use online self-service over a call centre, while according to The Real Self-Service Economy report, 70% of customers now expect a company website to include a self-service application.

However, according to a new report by Intelliresponse, authored by ThinkJar’s Esteban Kolsky, the vast majority of businesses have yet to accomplish what they set out to do with digital self-service investment.

In fact, just 56% of organisations currently have a self-service initiative underway, with 93% of the customer experience professionals Kolsky polled stating they had “a lot to learn about how to offer a better self-service experience”; a far cry from the Gartner predictions of four years previous.       

For those businesses that do currently provide self-service technology, the research suggests a multichannel approach is most favourable, with 100% offering web service, 39% offering email, 25% live chat, 29% mobile, 19% text message, 30% Twitter, 29% Facebook and 15% instant messaging.

And Kolsky suggests that in order for the Gartner prophecy to be realised in the coming six years, more businesses will need to adopt a more holistic approach to their self-service plans.

“Doing self-service right means making the self-service experience available in a multitude of channels,” he states, in the report. “This appeals to a customers need for consistency of experience. Today’s best digital self-service technologies are channel agnostic, so that the customer can select the interaction channel of their preference and expect a consistent answer.”

The good news for self-service technology providers is that 64% of companies plan to invest more in self-service and extend it to other channels in the next 1 to 3 years.

However, those that don’t plan to invest may need some convincing – 21% state they don’t need self-service technology, while 27% say they can’t justify the investment. This is despite Forrester research that estimates an average of $22 million in the US alone is spent every year in unnecessary service costs due to channel escalations; meaning that if customers can’t self-serve it costs brands money.

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