For the greater part of the early 20th century, full-service gas stations ruled the roads, with customers frequenting the brands of their choice to pull in, sit a spell and not only have their gas tank filled by a live attendant, but their windshields washed and oil and tire pressure checked, too. Motorists as a whole accepted that fueling up was an assisted service experience, and were willing to give both their time and money to the process.
Fast forward to today, where customers are now willing to forego the live person and pump their own gas to save both money and time, and oil and gas companies have learned that it actually saves them money and time, too. Today, we’re quickly headed in the same direction when it comes to customer service and support, where convenience is driving a generational change in service that can benefit both the customer and the brand.
Pumping Up Self-Service
In a March 2015 research note, Why You Need to Rethink Your Customer Self-Service Strategy, Gartner Research analyst Brian Manusama notes Gartner’s prediction that by 2017, two-thirds of all customer service interactions will no longer require the support of a human intermediary (in 2014, comparatively, this was 55% of all interactions).
This aligns with an upward trend in self-service shown by Forrester Research’s most recent North American Consumer Technographics Customer Life Cycle Survey which notes respondents are now using the self-service FAQ pages on a company’s website more often than speaking with a live agent on the phone. According to the survey, self-service channel usage has increased from 67% in 2012 to 76% in 2014, while phone usage remains the same at 73% (Tweet this stat).
Knowledge Fuels Consistency
While there’s definitely an increased demand by customers for self-service, driving convenience and satisfaction takes brands and organizations many times re-evaluating, and sometimes revamping, what’s currently fueling their self-service delivery – as well as their delivery vehicle. In a new white paper titled Getting More with Self-Service, The Service Council’s Chief Customer Officer and former Aberdeen customer experience analyst Sumair Dutta notes that 60% of organizations polled are looking to increase available self-service resources, and in the B2C space, that percentage jumps to 70%.
A key investment in terms of these resources, and key to overall self-service success across channels, is knowledge. Says Dutta, “content needs to be easy to find, easy to follow, and effective in resolving the service issue” – and that means organizations need “to review the amount of content available, the format and the means through which it is made to customers.” For many brands currently, self-service content comes from, is managed in, and is delivered through multiple sources, which undermines consistency.
In a Service Council poll, respondents ranked consistency of messaging, accuracy of information and integration between channels as their top three self-service challenges, and that just won’t work for going forward for brands and organizations looking for better customer satisfaction and retention numbers through self-service availability. Notes Dutta, “Inconsistent information creates mistrust and customer churn.”
Driving Self-Service Success
In the research note Why You Need to Rethink Your Customer Self-Service Strategy referenced above, Gartner estimates that by the end of 2016, at least 80% of organizations that fail to plan their self-service implementations will incur higher customer service costs and will not achieve the savings and benefits expected.
In his new white paper, The Service Council’s Chief Customer Officer Sumair Dutta speaks to best practices for implementing a self-service solution, with compelling stats around challenges, goals and the benefits of successful self-service efforts which include increased first contact resolution, greater employee engagement, consistency of information across channels, self-service deflection from high-cost assisted channels and greater customer satisfaction, especially when satisfying self-service is paired with an assisted service channel such as live chat.
“Self-service investments have traditionally been isolated and not seen as a part of the organization’s overall multichannel strategy.
“But, as organizations begin to integrate self-service knowledge and information with a broader service strategy, they are reaping the benefits of higher customer delight and engagement with a lower cost of service,” says Dutta.
Download this white paper to find out who’s making greater investments in customer self-service, which channels other brands and organizations are focusing on, plus best practices for content delivery and driving adoption.