Self-service - why its important to give your customers the option

Written by Michael Smith on the 9th of February, 2015

You might not realise it, but the digital world is creating a massive rise in demand for consumer and b2b ‘customer self-service’. And if you think about your own behaviour, then it shouldn’t really come a surprise.

Whether you are shopping on-line, working on a tablet or seeking information on the hoof on your mobile device, the likelihood is you’d rather find the answer yourself before resorting to picking up the telephone. How many sales have been killed by someone who has tried to ring an 0845 or 0800 number from the sofa only to be warned how much the call is going to cost and then rapidly hitting the end-call button.

The fact is that because 92% of adults use search engines to answer questions, we now expect our favourite websites to have the same functionality . As a result, a whopping 91% of people say they would use a knowledge base to answer questions if it met their needs. And this is the big ‘IF’. A help-centre has to be built with the customer in mind. That means you need to understand their requirements, their behaviour and how best to interact with them in a help-centre.

This isn’t about turning off your contact centre. 40% of customers are still likely to call you at some stage having utilised a knowledge base. And this isn’t because the knowledge base isn’t doing its job but because we humans often seek confirmation or affirmation from the ‘horse’s mouth’, so to speak. The good news is that your agents are handling fewer calls and can thus provide a far more valued service to customers.

So how do you go about building and embedding this concept into your way of working? As its all about customer experience, it has to be real and thus based upon genuine customer behaviour and brand engagement. As its often the start of a customer journey, it must also make the customer more informed.

The starting point has to be the integration of all customer touchpoints and interactions into a single point or ticket system. We deploy Zendesk because it can be rapidly deployed and then developed to bring legacy and digital channels together. Reporting across channel can rapidly give you an overview of how customers are being engaged. Using customer data, it becomes possible to build out a knowledge base that provides self-management options, chat and other ways of addressing enquiries and thus reduce pressure on inbound agents.

The outcomes of integrating self service can be rapid and surprisingly effective. We recently deployed Zendesk on behalf of an organisation which saw a reduction in inbound calls from 91% of customer interactions to 55% in a single month. The net impact has been more meaningful dialogue with a more informed customer and thus an increase in sales.

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