using self-service to improve the digital customer experience

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Self-service is essential to the digital customer experience. With more people accessing the Web using mobile devices than PCs, your customers expect to get what they want from your company through a plethora of digital touchpoints, whether that’s to transfer money between accounts, fix a printer, return an item bought from the online store or contact tech support.

According to Zendesk nearly 70% of consumers now prefer to use self-service instead of speaking to a contact center agent. A further 91% would access a company’s knowledgebase if it was easily accessible and tailored to their needs. The report adds that the percentage of users accessing self-service on their mobile device has grown by 50% over the last 12 months. They now make up 26% of all self-service users up from 17% a year earlier.

This enthusiasm doesn’t mean that customers won’t call the contact center if they can’t get help elsewhere, or are unable (or unwilling) to use another channel. (Check out our white paper to find out how to optimize your voice channel.)

multiple channels

What it does mean is that your customers want to contact you on multiple channels, including mobile, web portals, Twitter, voice and beyond. They want help, support and access to services using both digital and physical touchpoints, here’s a few examples to illustrate the point:

·       Online grocery stores allowing customers to schedule their deliveries

·       Parcel and courier services offering delivery reports and scheduling via Web or app, as well as conventional means

·       Online and app-based banking, for example Mint

·       Service provision solutions such as the Uber taxi service app

In each case the online channels help customers access real world services, empowering them with convenience and control. This innovation in customer self-service provision gives your customers more visibility and control while giving you better customer satisfaction and loyalty.

good business

Helping customers use digital channels to help themselves isn’t just good CRM, it’s good business -- when it comes to tech support provision per incident call center costs can reach $6 per call, while web-based alternatives cost a few cents. It makes sense to extend self-service to self-care. The challenge here is that while fifty-three percent of 100 UK firms offer online self-service support, just 12% supplied consistent responses to the same question asked through email, Twitter and (where available) web chat, according to Eptica.

“The result is a poor customer experience, a decline in trust, and a greater likelihood that the customer will not develop a sense of loyalty to the company,” Eptica explains.

So, how might you improve your self-service provision? Eptica VP global marketing, Dee Roche recommends:

·       Mobile apps should include self-service options

·       Use responsive design so website content is optimized for PC or mobile device

·       Share the same knowledge base across all channels.

·       Avoid online forms as these can be unwieldy on mobile devices.

·       Gather analytics to identify customer need

Beyond ensuring information is consistent, it’s also important to deliver consistency across all platforms. “Users are likely to become confused if there are drastic changes in the interface when they access the self-service portal from different devices,” warns Analysys Mason.

Regional and demographic differences to customer expectation remain, for example, Generation-Y consumers are more likely to use social media than email; while in some countries no one would dream of going online to get help. But ensuring self service is offered consistently and effectively across all your channels should help boost customer satisfaction, engagement and, ultimately, trust.

Are you working to develop better self-service for your customers? How are you delivering consistency across your digital touchpoints? If you are looking for more information visit Orange Business’ customer experience pages for a host of resources and ideas.

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Jon Evans

Jon Evans is highly experienced technology journalist and editor. He has been writing for a living since 1994. These days you might read his daily regular Computerworld AppleHolic and opinion columns. Jon is also technology editor for men’s interest magazine, Calibre Quarterly, and news editor for MacFormat magazine, which is the biggest UK Mac title. He's really interested in the impact of technology on the creative spark at the heart of the human experience. In 2010 he won an American Society of Business Publication Editors (Azbee) Award for his work at Computerworld.