Self Service: The Changing Tides of Contact Centers

Everyone is obsessing over the perfect customer experience — and for good reason. The customer has always been king, but it is now more apparent than ever. The changing tides of customer service has forced companies around to reshape their customer experience strategy.

What’s the Next Chapter for Customer Service?

The rumors circulating the “death of the call center” aren’t completely true, but they aren’t completely false either. Call centers will always be necessary because customer service is becoming increasingly more important. But there is certainly some validity in that traditional call centers are no longer viable options for customers or companies. Customers now require a quicker, more self serving approach to problem solving and service.

This means more automation, more artificial intelligence, and more self service options.

But what exactly falls under the umbrella of self service? It may come as a surprise but self service encompasses a ton of digital touchpoints and even content to achieve its goal. Examples of popular self service options are:

  • Automated chat bots
  • Self service kiosks
  • Online forums (Quora, Reddit, etc.)
  • Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) sections
  • Tutorials, educational videos, webinars, guides (blog, video, graphic)
  • Digital voice assistant

Self service essentially allows customers to seek solutions on their own. It may seem strange — but modern consumers love to do some of the work themselves.

According to recent studies, 85% of all service interactions will occur without human interactions by 2020. This is a staggering number — but it shouldn’t scare anyone. This simply entails that there must be a shift in contact center strategy, one where avenues for DIY and automated solutions are plentiful.

But to truly harness the power of automation and self service — it’s important to take a close look at how this shift affects the customer and exactly how they will be interacting with your contact center. This is the only way to provide a truly robust customer experience.

The Next Gen of Service

Take a minute to consider how we arrived in this new era of service. The revolutionary influence of the internet has offered consumers a wealth of dynamic information about…anything and everything.

A growing majority of customers grew up in this era and have become accustomed to figuring out solutions for themselves. Why?

  1. It’s often quicker: Blogs, video and forums offer quick answers from actual users experiencing similar issues. Also, more kiosks = less lines.
  2. Discovering a DIY solution means that you won’t have to seek help if the problem occurs again.

There are two simple truths — and there’s no getting around them. Customers want speed and they want simplicity. Research backs this up by stating that 70% of customers place speed and convenience at the top of their list.

In fact, speed is so important that nearly 40% of customers stated they would spend a little more to receive faster customer service.

But speed alone won’t do the trick. Luckily, AI and automated self service options are extremely convenient for the customer and your business. Digitally connected self service options such as chatbots or voice assistants are available day and night, all year round. This is quickly becoming the focal point of many contact center operations.

Hone in on self service while implementing alternative touch points along the way. This is crucial. It makes sense to focus on self service — but other processes and touchpoints should flow seamlessly to and from any automated service.  

The Necessities.

There are a few things you’ll need to consider before creating a successful self service customer service strategy.

1. Provide Multiple Available Channels

For customers to get the most out of your self service options and receive exemplary service — you must give multiple channels that work seamlessly as a whole. If a customer is unable to resolve an issue from a chatbot or kiosk — their transition to a human touchpoint should be trouble-free and timely.

Also, it’s a good idea to give them an option to opt out of self-service whenever they please. Putting the power in the customer’s hands gives them a sense of autonomy, improving their overall experience.

2. Allow Capable AI to Take Control

If your initial digital touchpoint fails to resolve issue — the transition to a human agent should be smooth.

Smooth doesn’t solely refer to the transfer, but also getting paired with the the suitable agent. All information the customer has entered should be available as well. Nothing will turn a customer away quicker than having to repeat their information over and over again.

3. Responsible Maintenance

Just like updating your other contact center services and options (which, hey, if you aren’t doing ,you should be), your self service options must also stay up-to-date. As your services or products change or evolve, so must your self service options to ensure that any new issues can be dealt with accordingly.

This also means pages such as FAQ’s should be timely and updated to reflect any changes in products or services.

Lastly, if you are an admin on a forum you should be moderating any inappropriate or false information so that your readers are receiving the necessary information at the top of the queue.

The Cost Savings of Self Service

The big elephant in the room when it comes to adjusting your customer experience strategy is cost. The first cost benefit will inevitably come from improving the overall customer experience by offering self service options. If customers are able to quickly find solutions or information they need without having to contact a representative — they will feel heard, understood and invested in as a customer, improving their overall experience.

Another cost benefit comes from either cutting down on agents or allocating them to more complex problem solving tasks. Keeping agents around to complete simple tasks that can be easily handled by automated or AI processes is a waste of money and brainpower. This can also help with agent retention because agents will feel much more valued if the are solving creative problems rather than resolving the same issues over and over again.

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