Customer Care

Why Self-Service Has Reached a Tipping Point and How to Adapt Your Customer Care Strategy

By José Márquez-Martínez - March 07, 2018

If you want to understand the self-service trend, then you have to take a look at Generation Y. According to Goldman Sachs, this largest generation of history is in its prime and will soon dominate global economic activity. By 2025, Millennials will comprise three-quarters of the global workforceand their spending power is estimated to be $3.39 trillion this year.

With the rise of the Millennial generation, the trend towards self-services is accelerating. We’ve already reported on how the younger generation much prefers to handle problems on their own in this blog post – from solving simple problems to the DIY repair of smartphones. According to the blog Millennial Marketing, “Generation Y has become Generation DIY”.

71 Percent Prefer Self-Service to Call Centers

Fueled by digital transformation and multiple new communication channels, the need for personal interaction is shrinking in the Millennial generation and even more for post-Millennials: Only 17 percent of Generation Z use a telephone at work, whereas this figure is 50 percent for Millennials.

Gartner expects that only 10 percent of all interactions between customers and companies will be done over the phone by 2020. 71 percent want to solve their problems themselves. This is how we have reached the self-service tipping point: The demand for digital self-help services is accelerating, while the importance of traditional call centers for handling simple requests is declining.

Customer care organizations are therefore facing the challenge of integrating self-service offerings into their customer care strategy. To use chatbots as an example, lots of companies have learned the hard way that quick solutions do not exist. Automated, rigid dialogs may be suitable for answering simple customer requests, but they cannot solve complex problems.

Many Self-Service Approaches Lead to Customer Frustration

We came across an interesting study conducted by McKinsey while searching for the reasons why previous self-service approaches such as chatbots have failed: 57 percent of the customer service executives in this survey stated that reducing customer inquiries was a top priority.

Let us repeat that again: The reduction of customer requests is a top priority for many companies! Those who pursue their customer care strategy with the goal of avoiding customer interaction and therefore who rely on fast but poorly thought-out self-service solutions should not be surprised if they have frustrated customers.

As the chatbot example shows, in many cases such solutions have proven to be a customer defensive measure that can be costly in the long term. Even a single bad service experience is a good enough reason for 82 percent of your customers to look for another brand. We have already reported in great detail about the cost of bad service in this blog post.

Self-Service Requires A Holistic Customer Care Approach

It is a definite fallacy to imagine that you can sustainably cut costs by means of poorly arranged self-service solutions. The focus should be on the needs of the Millennial generation described above, who first and foremost want to solve problems on their own. The key to success lies in a holistic customer care approach: self-service as the starting point of a digitally integrated customer journey.

1. Provide Context and Continuity

When it comes to Millennials, a customer care interaction should always begin with a digital touchpoint, such as via an app or a chatbot. If the problem cannot be solved directly, then 80 percent of customers do not expect to have to repeat the same information in the next step. 88 percent expect a completely seamless transition to the next touchpoint, which may be a call center agent.

2. Call Center Agents with Expert Knowhow

As we described in our last blog post, call centers are far from being obsolete. However, the profile of agents is changing with a tendency towards technical experts. If a customer starts their customer care journey via self-service and from there they are connected to a call center agent, then the expectation levels are high: The competence of the service employee should match the customer’s request. Artificial intelligence helps to presort customer requests and forward them to the appropriate call center agent.

3. Combine Digital and Human Touch with each other

The Millennials’ need to minimize personal interaction and instead to favor digital solutions has a simple background: it’s all about speed and availability around the clock. Customer care organizations that combine these advantages of digital touchpoints with the problem-solving expertise of human service employees will be among the winners in the long term. Virtual service organizations that cover all time zones at any time of day or night can take up customer requests that were initiated on a digital touchpoint at any time and be able to complete the problem solving process. This results in a seamless customer care experience that is fully digitalized and yet retains the human touch.

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Customer Care

About the Author

José Márquez-Martínez

José is Product Development Manager at B2X.