Customers demand and expect self-service

Posted by Kevin Hall

Often when we consider the business process, we take it for granted that certain steps, systems and workflow are in place and the situation is as it should be, normal.

The company has been doing this for the last ten years, its working, we are serving our clients, and their satisfaction levels are in line with industry standards … so why change anything?

Has your customer changed? And how quickly will market forces change in the next five years?

These are tough questions. With aging business decision makers and x-gen/millennial spend on the increase, our clients are making different decisions based on criteria that is new and that we are still trying to figure out.

The reality is that service expectation is growing exponentially, and our ability to deliver on this expectation does not always keep up with the curve of instant response.

Many companies are innovating on their product or delivery mechanisms, but the overall focus is on the customer ecosystem and is not something we fully understand.

What decisions are you making in the process that influence the ability to receive good customer service? Self-service is becoming a simple way to address the need for immediate resolution of customer queries.

Banking is adopting a balance enquiry that is instant and the same applies to most Telco’s, as well as other large volume interactions.

The innovation of the self-help service has now mostly been completed on quick-win interactions, where the large volume of interactions with customers was creating bottleneck issues on the service end.

However, the ability to transact on complex requirements seems to have been left behind.

Granted some companies believe that simply offering solutions on a self-help platform might result in more frustration and, in other cases, could mean follow-up efforts that might lower the productivity gain.

The reality is things are changing at a pace nobody could have predicted and customers are becoming more sophisticated.

The ability to understand and transact in the digital world has progressed. Our ability to track, predict and measure the interaction has also provided the necessary information to radically improve the user experience.

Innovation within self-service will have to move towards predicting needs, providing easy interfaces, and delivering feedback at a pace to match client expectation.

Clients should be able to adjust their service experience based on the quick feedback provided by the interface.

Companies can use technologies like AI (Artificial Intelligence) to cognitively change feedback to the client, based on their behavior. This will influence service as well as purchasing behavior – and could result in more business and drive re-occurring traffic.

Self-service is not just an added benefit some companies provide to their customers.

We will need to plan the process and develop automation in the back-end - there is no point in the self-service system being as time consuming as other normal interactions.

We need to understand that self-service implies a level of service that is higher than our own manual efforts, if the customer is going to do the work; they at least expect efficient service.

The fact that you offer self-service as an option is not enough - your customer will take to social media to vent their frustration should their expectations not be met.

The client willing to interact and deal with their needs is the same client willing to complain on every channel they access.

Understand their basic customer needs, make realistic reasonable promises and then exceed and reward the self-service options to meet their expectations.