The customer service landscape is changing, with technology allowing customer service to shift from call centers and direct contact solutions to self-service technology.
“Customers have begun to use, and in some cases even prefer, non-agented interactions,” says Ian Jacobs, principal analyst at Forrester. “They use knowledge bases, FAQs, mobile customer self-service, chatbots and peer-to-peer communities in increasing numbers.”
These days, some 70 percent of consumers expect companies to offer a self-service option when they raise questions and/or complaints. As self-service technology expands, companies must innovate with new ideas to provide a better customer service and brand experience. Here’s a look at customer self-service and the role of burgeoning cloud contact centers.
The Rise of Self-Service
Gone are the days when a phone was the only option to reach a customer support team. Through the use of screenshots, as well as video and audio tutorials, self-service options have become powerful, bona fide tools to address customer pain points.
In particular, automated systems offer direct, immediate answers to simple questions and greater clarification. Of course, with this technology, consumers don’t have to wait in line, on-hold or for a response to an email. The answers are just “there” — and the buying public is embracing this new model.
“Customers often prefer self-service to employee-led options,” writes MIT Sloan Management Review. “For instance, rental car brands, such as Alamo and Enterprise, report that self-service kiosks can reduce check-in times by half, leading to greater customer satisfaction with the rental process.”
Customer Preferences and Self-Service
In spite of enhanced options and ease of use, experts say the only time customers tend to shy away from self-service options is when they’re poorly implemented. For a service to be used, it has to function well, answer questions without requiring information to be repeated and tie into a customer support network that has actual agents.
When a reliable and trustworthy self-service system is in place, consumers may actually enjoy a better customer service experience than they would when interacting with a live agent. Any time simple questions are answered via automation, live agents can spend more time and energy on more pressing issues.
As such, they will be more apt to spend time answering complex questions that self-service technology cannot support. In fact, some contact centers are adopting a concierge level of service and, as a result, are seeing big gains in customer satisfaction.
Cloud Contact Center
The rise of self-service options — as well as the integration of dedicated live agents who can now handle more complex issues — hinges on the use of cloud contact solutions. Self-service “is great … until something goes wrong,” says Forbes contributor Shep Hyken. “Then there has to be a backup plan, and that backup is usually a human on a phone or behind a ticket counter.”
It also has to be seamless to move a customer from self-service to agent-assisted help — and cloud contact center solutions are one way to make that happen. With these solutions in place, companies can keep customer service (self-service and agent interactions) in one place, allowing companies to provide all customers with the type of service they desire.
Of course, not all cloud-based contact options are created equally. Thus, in order to meet the needs of today’s consumers, your company will need to adopt cloud-based options that can handle inbound, outbound and blended interactions seamlessly.