Especially in current times, customers want the control and reassurance of being able to access information and find answers to their queries themselves, 24 hours a day, without having to wait. This means they are happy to use web or telephone self-service systems to help themselves, without needing to speak to a contact centre agent or email a company. Over half (57%) of UK consumers said they wanted to get their own answers from company websites during lockdown while 83% said they were happy to use self-service of some sort.
Effective self-service delivers four major benefits to consumers, businesses and their employees:
1. Greater customer satisfaction
Research from Contact Babel found that consumers ranked getting an answer quickly as one of the most important factors behind successful customer service. Self-service enables this by putting them in control and giving them fast access to information and answers. The net effect is greater customer satisfaction as routine queries don’t need to be escalated, saving time and effort for consumers.
2. Increased efficiency
Customer expectations are rising, leading to a growing volume of incoming queries for brands. Self-service is key for businesses to successfully manage these queries, not just boosting customer satisfaction but overall efficiency. Contact Babel found that on average answering a phone query cost a business £4.53 – by contrast well-implemented self-service systems have a low or zero cost. These efficiency gains are crucial, especially in the current climate when many businesses have to cope with the economic disruption brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Higher staff satisfaction
By deflecting routine queries, self-service systems also free up agents to handle more complex interactions where they can use their skills, such as empathy and understanding, to deliver the reassurance and problem-solving that consumers are looking for. This not only benefits customers and business efficiency but makes the jobs of contact centre agents much more interesting and rewarding. They can feel that they have used their skills to make a real difference, helping increase their satisfaction levels, boosting engagement and loyalty.
4. Deeper insight into customer needs
The business landscape for every organisation is changing rapidly, with customer needs and requirements evolving quickly. To ensure that they can adapt and deliver the right experience for consumers organisations can analyse the queries asked through self-service and use this insight to quickly fill in gaps and address issues in the customer journey. This customer intelligence enables organisations to remain in tune with consumer needs, now and in the future.
The future for self-service – 5G & greater AI
Thanks to these benefits, self-service is already well-established within the customer journey, with 87% of contact centres offering it in some form, according to figures from Contact Babel. However, new technologies provide the opportunity for organisations to step up their use of self-service, particularly through the rise of 5G smartphones and the greater use of artificial intelligence.
By providing high-speed, low latency connections 5G will enable faster, more personalised self-service. Consumers will be able to engage with organisations seamlessly through cloud-based apps, supporting more proactive self-service that understands their needs and provides answers and solutions without them needing to even ask a question. 5G also underpins wearable devices and the Internet of Things, meaning that devices will be able to automatically request service updates and fixes, without their owners even needing to get involved.
Self-service already heavily uses artificial intelligence to analyse incoming customer interactions and provide answers automatically or via chatbots. As the technology matures it will be able to deliver more, through greater understanding of the context of queries, leading to more natural chatbot conversations and the ability to answer a greater range of questions through self-service.
To deliver all of these benefits, organisations need a self-service strategy that is focused on customer needs and uses technology effectively to deliver the speed, reassurance and satisfaction that consumers are looking for. To help achieve this, Enghouse Interactive has created a Quick Guide to Self-Service, outlining the benefits it delivers, the technologies required, and how organisations can make self-service work for them. Download your copy here.