Modernize Your Customer Experience with Self-Service

Posted by Kathy Sobus on Feb 22, 2022 10:00:00 AM

In my last blog post, I advocated for beginning your customer experience modernization journey by consulting with IT. My next piece of advice centers around what the end goal of your modernization efforts should be: allowing your customers more access to self-service—and I mean good self-service.

Good self-service provides the answers to all the questions the person is looking for. The best self-service provides a means of taking action, as well, rather than just answering questions. The most excellent self-service does this in an expedient, thoughtful, and personalized manner.

When we say “self-service,” many of us think:

  • We put in an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to tell people what their balance or order status is
  • We create an app that tells people what their balance or order status is
  • We have a website that tells people what their balance or order status is

I think you’re starting to see a running theme here.

Websites and some apps can also provide FAQs, but what if a customer’s request is just a little different? Then they have no choice but to call in (or chat, or—if they’re lucky—use SMS).

Have you ever hunted through a website to try to find the answer to your question, hit “search,” and come up with way too many responses—none of which ended up working? If you’re either laughing or feeling your blood pressure rise right now, I know you have! Suffice to say, these self-service tactics aren’t working the way companies think they are. They are a far cry away from the great self-service that customers now expect.

Yesterday, I had an issue with installing an app (you know, one of those driving apps for insurance), and having the system recognize I was the driver. I worked on this for over half an hour because I just knew the answer would be simple. After having no luck on the app, no luck on the website, no luck in Google, and it being way too late to call over the weekend, the company asked for feedback on whether or not my problem was solved. I said, “Do you know there are automated systems available that would allow me to do this on my own, without human assistance? I can help you with that if you’d like to reach out to me.”

Yes—you guessed it. A week later, no response. Does anyone read these?

I know, you’re thinking, “bold move,” but I really did it for the sake of humanity. OK, maybe that’s a bit of a reach. Still, systems that provide self-service aren’t new anymore, so why are companies hesitating to adopt them?

Technology has advanced to the point where it doesn’t require 18 months of budgeting and planning only to produce a solution that is not optimized in the current environment. These newer AI technologies, which use Natural Language Processing (NLP), are flexible enough to deploy within weeks or months, depending on the levels of integration. These systems should never be deployed as a stand-alone. If they are, you’re missing the boat. So many companies are deploying these with no way of reaching a human for help (like in my insurance story).

Integration with CRM, payment, ordering, and knowledge-based systems is really the way to go, but it shouldn’t stop there. The last thing any customer wants to do is feel trapped within a system, unable to get to a human. They should all have off-ramps built in to allow for the teaching of the system. These AI engines get smarter and smarter the more they are used. If you really want to make a difference, you’ll pass along all the conversations that occurred during the AI time to the human. The last thing a customer wants to do is have to repeat themselves.

It’s time to take a fresh look at self-service. You may be surprised at all the new ways customers can help themselves that you hadn’t thought of before. The added bonus? Your agents and your bottom line will thank you, too.

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Topics: Contact Center, Customer Experience, Artificial Intelligence, Modernization


Kathy Sobus
Kathy Sobus  -- As the Senior Director of Customer Experience Strategy for ConvergeOne, Kathy Sobus leads a team with extensive experience in the contact center business and drives strategic alliances and partnerships with various vendors and providers. She is an expert in the area of customer experience and helps clients enhance their contact centers to more effectively respond to their customers’ ever-changing needs.