According to Tim Deluca-Smith, global head of marketing for WDS, many customer service self-service projects are faltering – on most occasions due to technical and operational flaws, but more often than not because customers find the idea of self-service too ‘impersonal’.
Recent statistics also reveal that just 56% of organisations currently have a self-service initiative underway, with 93% of the customer experience professionals stating they had “a lot to learn about how to offer a better self-service experience”. Despite the growing desire among businesses to switch aspects of their customer support to self-service, it appears that Gartner’s 2011 prediction of 85% of customer relationships being managed without human intervention is a long way from being realised.
While the issues of developing successful self-service support functions are numerous, new research from Aspect Software and The Center for Generational Kinetics suggests the key to solving some of them, especially around impersonality, may yet lie with the millennial generation (those aged 18-34), and their current expectations around the future of customer service.
In a survey of 1,050 US citizens aged 18-65, Aspect found that nearly three out of four millennials prefer to solve their customer service issues on their own, while 69% say that they feel good about themselves and the company they are doing business with when they resolve a problem without talking to a customer service representative.
55% of millennials say that their customer service expectations have increased over the last three years, while more than half have stopped doing business with at least one company because of poor customer service in the past year.
“Millennials are self-reliant and technology dependent, but not necessarily tech savvy, and they expect instant gratification. They don’t just like speed and ease of use, they expect it,” says Jason Dorsey, chief strategy officer at The Center for Generational Kinetics, who led the research.
“When it comes to customer service, the average Millennial is going to look for both the ability to communicate the way they like, be it through text or Twitter, and maintain that level of customisation made possible when speaking to an agent in real-time. Therefore companies who don’t adapt their engagement approach are at great risk of near-term obsolescence.”
Recent statistics from mplsystems’ Susannah Richardson highlighted just how far consumer expectations around customer service had shifted - 39% of modern consumers now expect a reply to their email within four hours and 55% of social media users want an answer in less than four hours. With cost being such a prohibitive factor in businesses being able to meet these expectations, how self-service functions are used is likely to become more and more vital.
Richardson calculated that the cost per support session for self-service is estimated to be between 40 and 100 times cheaper than a live call to an agent.
About Chris Ward
Chris is Editor of MyCustomer. He is a practiced editor, having worked as a copywriter for creative agency, Stranger Collective from 2009 to 2011 and subsequently as a journalist covering technology, marketing and customer service from 2011-2014 as editor of Business Cloud News. He joined MyCustomer in 2014.