Customer service has evolved significantly over the years. Some experts predict that new technology will make traditional customer service functions obsolete. A growing number of companies are investing in self-service customer support strategies.

The self-service approach can be remarkably effective. Kayoko released a report showing that it is one of the biggest changes in the customer service system. The change can be ideal for customers, as well as brands. Customers can receive quicker service without having to assert themselves, while brands can serve their customers with fewer resources and place less strain on their personnel.

Unfortunately, many of the existing self-service systems are notoriously ineffective. Customer service surveys from the Northridge Group show that 55% of customers are overwhelmed with automated service systems. Here are some common customer self-service mistakes that could compromise customer loyalty.

Excessive menu options on your IVR system

When companies set up their IVR systems, they often program them to handle responses for every possible problem a customer may encounter. This approach often backfires.Customers may feel overwhelmed with all of the options and try to bypass the IVR system to get to the operator before the appropriate options can even be relayed to them.

Your automated response systems should focus on the handful of issues that customers are most likely to face. Customer should still be able to easily contact support personnel for more uncommon issues.

Neglecting to update your self-service system over time

You can’t take a set it and forget it approach to customer service. This is just as true for self-service systems as traditional customer service funnels.

Customer behavior is going to change over time. That is inevitable. Your product and service offerings will change as well, so the types of calls you receive will be different a couple of years from now.

It is important to keep testing your self-service system. You need to collect the following data to determine its effectiveness:

  • Average time that it takes for customers to resolve their inquiry.
  • The percentage of customers that request to speak with an agent due to dissatisfaction with the IVR self-service system.
  • The percentage of customers that leave positive and negative feedback about the customer service experience.
  • The number of customers that have to call back, because their problem wasn’t adequately addressed the first time.

These are metrics that you should be constantly testing. They could indicate that your self-service model is poorly designed.

Vet user generated content on resolving customer challenges

Many brands rely on customers to assist each other with their challenges. Forums and help center questions are perfect examples. According to a team of experts from Yotpo, user generated contentcan be enormously valuable, but it must be carefully vetted for accuracy.

Periodically review any user generated content, even if an agent originally responded to the threads and made edits. Human error is a fickle thing, so you need to review it carefully.

Punishing customers that need to speak with an agent

A couple of days ago, one of my friends needed to contact a very large company to resolve a billing error. Their self-service policy couldn’t factor for the unique nature of his problem. While he was trying to speak with an agent, the automated system warned him that there would be a $5 charge to do so. My friend was understandably very upset by this, because the problem the self-service system was unable to resolve was the company‘s fault in the first place.

“I can’t believe that [company’s name] wanted to charge me for their own incompetence. This is one of the biggest rackets I ever had to deal with,” he vented.

I understand the desire to minimize strain on your customer service department. However, punishing customers because your self-service system was unable to help them is not the way to go. In many circumstances, this is exactly what you are doing. Some customers will try to skip the queue to speak with an agent simply because they are impatient, but many simply have problems that the automated system you set up for them can’t solve.

Instead of charging a fee for agent assistance, you should emphasize that the self-service system it’s usually faster. This should deter most people from bypassing your IVR system, unless they have no other choice.