Woman on phone 2Despite the omni-channel world we now live in, there are still those who consider web self-service to be a second-rate customer support channel. In the final of this four-part blog series, we will be addressing another of the common myths surrounding web self-service.

Part 1: reviewed the myth: “It’s fobbing customers off with a second-rate support channel.”

Part 2: reviewed the myth: “It’s all about cutting jobs in the contact centre.”

Part 3: reviewed the myth: “It’s just for support, not for customer conversion.”

Part 4: “Customers would rather speak to a real person.”

Today’s consumer has an anytime, anyplace, anywhere mentality, meaning that they expect to be able to find information on a product or service instantly, and more often than not, that’s via a businesses website.

Our own research has shown that 67% of consumers overwhelmingly prefer online channels to voice for after-sales customer support & service, with 89% saying they are ‘more satisfied’ when they get answers quickly online.

The fact is, the majority of customers seeking information will make a website – not calling a business – their first port of call. For many customers, picking up the phone and facing an endless IVR menu, will be their last resort.

A good customer service strategy doesn’t confine customers to just one channel of communication; customers expect to be able to resolve their service queries in their channel of choice. A typical customers sales journey can start by browsing in-store, researching via a website, having a live chat session to confirm details, before booking online. Indeed Forrester report that nearly 70% of consumers now use web self-service and 43% use live chat, with these figures increasing all the time.

However, whilst self-serve is increasingly becoming the channel of choice for most consumers, there will always be circumstances when a conversation with a contact centre agent may be required or preferred.

There is nothing more frustrating than visiting a website, discovering that you are unable to find the information you require, and then being further frustrated by not being able to find a contact number. This results in a feeling by the customer that a company is trying to ‘avoid’ talking to them and results in low customer satisfaction and high abandonment rates.

Ideally, a business will offer customers self-service via an intuitive FAQ knowledge-base, clearly sign-posted on their website. If customers are unable to find the information they require or signal that they need more detailed assistance, they should then be either offered escalation to an agent via live chat or directed to a contact number or e-mail address to contact the business directly.

Whilst telephone may still be the channel of choice for some customers, predominantly consumers will use a combination of communication channels (website, social media, phone, e-mail, online forms), when contacting a business or making a purchase. In order for a business to gain a competitive edge, offering a consistent customer experience across all of these touch-points is key.

Do you think today’s multi-channel consumer only wants to make contact with you via telephone? What channels do you think your customers find the most valuable?