With the heightened customer expectations of today, investments in customer service (both assisted and self-service) must be made to keep up with demands. Backing this notion is a recent study by Bain & Company that reveals 80% of companies believe they are delivering a superior experience to their customers, while only 8% of customers agree.
Self-service to the Rescue
Self-service is an important component in improving overall customer satisfaction. Not only does it empower customers with 24/7 answers, information and updates – but for organizations, it also serves to deflect a high volume of frequently-asked-questions from high-cost, high-effort channels such as phone, email and support ticketing, so that customer service teams can focus on both improving service and information, and delivering superior customer experiences.
And customers are perfectly fine with getting their own answers. In a 2014 report titled The Real Self-Service Economy, 40% of approximately 3,000 consumers in a global survey said they prefer self-service to human contact for their future contact with companies; 70% expect a company website to include a self-service application.
What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
Unfortunately, many brands have initially adopted the wrong train of thought around their self-service offerings. Cheap, poorly-planned foundations with little or no continued investment or maintenance around content and delivery are yielding disappointing results for both brands and their customers.
In Dimension Data’s 2013/14 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report which surveyed more than 800 customer service contact center participants across 11 industries and 79 countries, while 53.4% say that greater self-service deflection is the number one priority for their contact center, 51.2% feel they’re behind the pack when it comes to self-service performance, and the accompanying show that to be the case:
- The average web/online self-service deflection target of those surveyed is 32.6%.
- The actual average being achieved is 17.5%.
Getting Priorities Straight
One culprit when it comes to these disappointing numbers could be that many brands don’t have their self-service priorities in the right order: 89.9% say that their top priority of self-service is to save money, while only 43.1% say it’s customer satisfaction, which means self-service and knowledge management probably aren’t getting the human and monetary resources they need.
Another is, based on the survey, that most brands aren’t collecting knowledge to gauge the success of or improve their self-service offerings. In the case of IVRs, when calls drop out of the IVR, 54.1% of the contact centers surveyed pass no information that the customer hung up or was lost. In addition, 74.9% surveyed collect no customer feedback on the effectiveness of the brand’s self-service smartphone apps, IVR (71.1%) and web chat offerings (69.1%).
An Uncertain Future
Of the more than 800 contact center participants surveyed, 81.2% said their current knowledge management system won’t be able to meet their future needs; 81% said the same about their overall self-service offerings. And with the Internet of Things (IoT) presenting a near-future challenge of epic proportions, only 38.7% say they are confident consumer demands can be supported on social media or smart applications.
Investing to Improve
Every organization’s first and continued customer experience hinges on a strong combination of knowledge management and self-service used both internally and externally. The lack of investment in one or both can surely be linked to the Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report’s numbers that show a five-year decline in first contact resolution rates (from 85.2% in 2009 to 73.1% in 2014) and three-year decline in customer satisfaction rates (from 82.1% in 2011 to 77.6%. So how do you get started on investing in a self-service offering that improves first contact resolution and customer satisfaction? Here are five tips:
- Know what your customers want and need.
- Make your self-service knowledge and delivery more organized and inviting.
- Increase accessibility to your information via search and additional customer service channels.
- Make self-service an online option, but not the only one. Pair it with an assisted service option such as live chat.
- Never be content with your content.