Self-Service for the Social Customer?
While this may be the age of tweets, chat sessions, Facebook, YouTube videos and other social media interaction, the self-service channel still has a vital role to play in supporting customers.
Kiosks in stores and malls, IVRs, online catalogues and FAQs, etc. should not be viewed as antiquated, 20th century technologies. Self-service plays an important role in enabling organizations to deliver customer experience, even in today’s instant messaging world.
Consider Gartner analyst Michael Maoz's statement at its Customer 360 event in April that the majority of people 30 or younger prefer to not interact with another human when they are looking for service. Yes, it's ironic the generation that made Facebook into a multi-billion company is not interested in human contact when it needs help.
However, my take-away from Maoz's observation is that it is still important for companies to offer a combination of touch points in the future. Organizations need to balance the level of service they deliver to the resources that they have while making a reasonable return for their investors. Self service offers organizations the ability to help customers solve their problems quickly and provides a high ROI.
Consider my own experiences. I frequently use self-service instead of “full service” whenever it is more efficient. For example, if I need to find out which SD card is compatible with my new SLR camera, I would rather get that list or specs from the manufacturer’s website instead of calling an 800 number or visiting a retail store. Similarly, getting the latest software patch for my Blu-Ray player is far easier by connecting my Blu-Ray player to the Internet and doing a self-upgrade instead of calling a customer support staffer during business hours and asking for the upgrade patch via DVD in snail mail. I save a lot of time with the self-service channel.
Think of the cost savings for the SLR and Blu-Ray vendors from my online self service. I'm a happy customer and I'll bet the vendors' CFOs are pleased as well.
Indeed, the ROI of self-service channel is more than just the deflection of a support call. Self service augments other existing customer service channels, enabling organizations to leverage existing resources and exceed their customers' expectations. The bank ATM is a great example. Not only do cash machines save consumers' time, they enable live bank tellers to service more “complex” transactions. By leveraging self-service, organizations can deliver better customer service to everyone because the load of the “full-service” channel has been reduced.
So even though many consumers seem to demand service from a live person, I believe that self-service is, and will be, a critical component for a customer service organization. No matter how much social media grows into a real time support channel, some support tasks will always be better served via self service.
Do you see self-service as an asset or a liability in the pursuit of superior customer experience?
Do you see self-service channels as a key component of an optimized customer service channel strategy?
Any great examples worthy of praise or condemnation? Please share with us!
Hansen Lieu is a Director of Solution Marketing at SAP. He has over 20 years of experiences in the IT industry, from development, implementation, product management, and marketing. In the last 12 years, he has been focusing on mobility, CRM, and particularly solutions for customer service. In his current role, Hansen is responsible for thought leadership, social media marketing, go-to-market ...
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