The lockdowns during the pandemic compelled people to become self-reliant. Whether it is setting up a new printer that they purchased from an e-commerce site or trying to cook that amazing pasta recipe from a YouTube video, the ‘Do It Yourself’ or DIY culture is sweeping across the world. While one cannot deny the importance of a human connect, it appears like some of the futuristic sci-fi predictions are coming true. For instance, monotone voiced virtual assistants are now helping us with menial day-to-day tasks. Therefore, it is only natural that a generation which relies on DIYs, Siri and Alexa would prefer to research and resolve their own problems, instead of picking up their phone and speaking to a customer service representative. They may want to speak to a person, only after they have exhausted all the self-service options available to them.
Self-service can be as simple as a webpage containing FAQs or as complex as a conversational AI using NLP to mimic human conversations. A well-developed customer self-service strategy will anticipate and address customer’s needs and concerns across multiple channels seamlessly without compromising on the resolution rate, quality of the service and availability of non-self-serving avenues. Embracing Self-service can yield many benefits to your organization such as:
- Reduction in wait time
- Reduction in hold time
- Availability of services around the clock
- Reduction in cost to serve
- Ensuring uniformity and standardization of service delivery across channels and languages
How to set up self-service channels
Companies looking to incorporate self-service channels in their customer service have several avenues to explore:
- Setting up a web portal containing FAQs page, video tutorials, options to track orders
- Setting up online forums for customers to interact and exchange solutions for any issues they may face (applicable for tech companies, automotive and home improvement retailers). Online Forums are generally effective if the company has a large customer base or is a niche market player with a dedicated customer base
- Intelligent Interactive Voice Response (IIVR) systems
- Conversational AI based Virtual Assistants: AI based tool that learns & builds its own knowledge base and can respond in plain English to queries
- Self-checkout POS and Self-order kiosks
- Interactive chatbots aided by Translation tools, Speech and sentiment analytics for company websites
- Proactive Self-service: Alert customer before a potential escalation. Example - Reminders to renew/cancel subscription
Though the one-time investment cost for implementing and integrating self-service solutions into their existing systems might seem steep for some of these, a simple cost – benefit analysis would show that in the long run, investing in self-service channels is going to be largely beneficial for the organizations.
Companies reluctant to invest might want to consider opting for a less personalized channel for self-service. For example, an electronics e-retailer can record and upload tutorial videos explaining how to open and install their products, safety instructions, how to return the products, specific requirements for purchasing their products, etc. on any video hosting platform and post it on their website.
With tectonic technological shifts happening throughout the world in retail and consumer markets, companies are now more than ever required to adapt or perish. However, with all the changes, the fundamental truth remains the same – satisfied and happy customers means a direct impact on sales. With an increasing segment of consumers becoming more comfortable with self-service channels, companies need to pay heed to this paradigm shift and adapt to their new customer service strategies accordingly.