With the right self-service strategy and solutions in place, organisations can reduce both live interactions and cost, yet still improve their customer experience. So why are so many businesses struggling to get it right?
There will always be instances when a customer needs to speak to a real person about a real issue. The secret is in knowing which types of issues require this live interaction and which do not – and quickly routing customers accordingly to the channel in which they can gain the most rapid resolution. In many cases your customers want to help themselves and you have a responsibility to make it easy for them to do so – when their specific needs can be resolved in the self-service channel.
With the technological tools at your disposal and the increasing amounts of data, insights and analysis that can be drawn across the customer journey, it should be possible to deflect a significant amount of interactions that occur between your customers and the agents in your contact centre.
Yet when customers do decide to use the tools and channels available, they often end up being disappointed. According to a 2019 Gartner study, 70% of customers now use self-service on the path to resolution, but just 9% of customers say they’ve succeeded in resolving their issue without having to engage directly with a brand!
So, not only are some companies making the customer journey more complicated in their quest to provide customers with more service options, they are actually increasing customer frustration as a result of “self help” tools and processes that fail to deliver. This is why 2020 is the year for taking self-service seriously.
From Digital/Conversational Assistants (chat-bots and voicebots) powered by AI, to FAQs, knowledge bases and branded online communities, there have never been so many ways to help customers answer their own questions. However, delivering a cohesive self-service strategy in line with customer expectations takes a lot more than simply adding one or all these solutions to your existing channel mix.
Building an effective, optimised omnichannel strategy requires a complete understanding of current end-to-end customer journeys, inclusive of all associated data elements, and the ability to implement cohesive new journeys that enable clear alignment of customer need with the channel(s) of most rapid resolution. The key is data-driven design expertise.
To get to this level of understanding your organisation will have to collect and analyze existing contact center data to identify all common contact drivers. This exercise will highlight which contacts are caused by weaknesses in a product or service and which may relate to a lack of information or clarity, both can be used to inform potential changes to products and processes.
From this assessment, you can determine those contact types potentially capable of being handled via self-service or digital service channels. Success will require that information be easily accessible, clear and presented at the right point in the issue resolution journey. The goal of any self-service strategy must be to augment/optimise your existing channels, not to simply add more ways for a customer to touch your company.
Following this logic, if a customer starts the resolution journey on a company’s website, the ability to navigate to the information required, whether presented as FAQs, tutorials or a knowledge base, should be simple. And of course all the information presented must be accurate and up-to-date.
Likewise, if you’re employing a chat-bot, it is best positioned as a final step before a live interaction, whether hosted on your website, via a social messaging app or as the gateway to your live chat queue. You wouldn’t implement voice support without an IVR – so why would you implement chat support without a Digital Agent! Trained to recognise and respond to the most common issues, the Digital Agent can seamlessly support non-linear transaction and fully serve the customer’s need – or transfer the customer to a live chat agent if the issue is out of the ordinary, passing all relevant information to the agent to ensure efficiency and increased resolution.
And of course, it should go without saying that whatever self-service tools you choose to integrate into your existing channel strategy, they must be accessible to and optimised for mobile devices.
From customer journey mapping and omnichannel engagement to chat-bot design and development, agent training and contact centre analytics, Sitel Group has helped some of the world’s most notable brands elevate their customer experience across all channels and at every touch point – for over 30 years.