Well designed self-service can improve customer experience and reduce costs

Businesses can leverage the power of sophisticated tools and technologies to provide self-service opportunities to customers to get the information they need. The urge to force these on customers should be resisted as it can have an adverse impact on customer experience.

In the early stages, focus should be on improving the quality of self-service channels by continuously seeking feedback and making improvements. Once the quality is at an acceptable standard, customers themselves will opt for these channels to get simple tasks resolved. Of course, human contact will always be needed to resolve the complicated issues.

Let’s look at some of the self-service channels available –

IVR system – powerful self-service channel, best used to provide quick information to customers like account balance, outstanding amount, location, confirmations etc. It can also be used to play customised messages to clients that add value.

Risks are using an IVR tree with many options and playing generic messages that may not be useful to all customers leading to customer frustration.

Knowledge Base – a well-developed KB that is searchable with good quality content can reduce response times significantly leading to customer and employee satisfaction. If a customer can resolve their issue or get the info they are after from KB articles then it reduces support costs. These costs can be utilised for regular high-quality training for staff to resolve more complicated issues that requires human intervention.

Risks are creating KB articles that are not clear and incomplete which means customer has to call support after having to invest time in a badly written KB.

Online forums – this is another great self-service channel that is interactive and drives customer engagement. The goal should be to develop a community of customers who can help each other like a crowd sourcing model.

Risks are not responding quickly to customer queries and not providing a solution as these discussions can get detailed and complicated. Your subject matter experts should be managing forums.

Bots – are the most recent development in the area of self service. They are interactive and can be programmed to understand and respond to simple tasks. Bots can significantly reduce support costs by managing all simple tasks and they are available 24×7. With the exponential progress in machine learning and AI, bots could end up managing moderately complicated tasks.

Risks are poorly developed bots that can not provide the right information to customers leading to a bad customer experience. It is always a good idea to give the opportunity for a customer to move from a bot to a staff member as and when they want to.

Blogs – are a great way to educate customers about a particular topic with good engaging content that adds value. It drives customer engagement and develops an affinity with your brand. Imagine your blog popping up in google results in response to a customer search. It raises customers confidence and makes them explore more about your business.

In-product self help – this is way cooler than FAQs and the question mark (?) in products. It only applies to software products where the customer is guided depending on previous actions/inputs in the product. In simple terms it can be MS Excel recommending a chart based on input data or an interactive game teaching a player on how to deal with a certain situation.

In summary self help channels that are well designed can not only improve customer experience but can reduce costs as well. The key is to invest in continuously improving these channels based on customer preferences and behaviours.

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Kedar Naik is Founder and Chief Customer Officer of Customer Experience Solutions. He has 20 years’ experience in helping companies understand their customers and provide great experiences to drive satisfaction, loyalty, retention and brand advocacy. Kedar also helps companies looking to offshore processes at a fraction of their current costs

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