Self-Service and Customer Service Should Be One In the Same

30

OCTOBER 2014

Eventus Marketing Team

A recent article in Consumer Reports brings light to the fact that many companies are going beyond customer service to self-service.  The self-service model has many benefits for consumers and businesses alike, but like any new technology, there are growing pains as the model is being perfected. The world is adapting to this new high level of customer service, but ultimately success will be determined by companies’ willingness to accept and evolve this technology to ease the transition for customers and employees alike.

The Self-Service Revolution

Until recently, the self-service model has been slow to take hold.  Yes we have had self-service gas stations for several decades, self-service checkout at grocery stores has been around for years, ATMs and even telephones since operators were obsoleted. But now, companies are going beyond those primitive models and presenting self-service as a consumer friendly, time saving tools for their customers.  For example, Wal-Mart has a scanning model in beta that essentially has customers checking out before they even leave the aisle they are on.

Industries that have traditionally been centered on person-to-person client services, such as the airlines and banking, are increasingly going to an online model and charging extra to speak to a customer service representative.  While the movement does save money for the companies – it cost $2 – $10 per transaction when a human is involved compared to pennies when a representative is not – the self-service model is being found to be very user friendly and in many cases a much more efficient process for consumers.

Learning Curve

There are people who are not technologically savvy and/or are used to working with actual humans when they do business, whether it is at a restaurant, a grocery store or a bank.  Many of those people are being left behind by this new customer service model and as a result are paying higher prices.  Some banks charge transaction fees when working with a person, while some airlines charge for having an agent print a boarding pass.

Give The People What They Want

Despite the drawbacks, according to Fast Company, 70 percent of consumers expect some self-service options for every commercial question or complaint.  The same study found that 24 hour resolution is a thing of the past; 39% of consumers expect a response within four hours of an inquiry.  With consumers being so demanding with response times, the only practical solution for the long-term is to offer self-service options.

Studies show customers have no problem with the self-service model. In fact, 75% of the people in a Zendesk study said that the model is convenient and 67% of respondents said they prefer self-service over speaking with a customer representative.  The key to success is for it to not only be convenient but also have a backup in place for the rare times that it is not convenient.  After all the 99 customers who had a great self-service experience are not going to share how great their experience was, but the one person who the technology failed on will shout their experience to the world.

The debate over the pros and cons of self-service will continue, but so will the self-service revolution.  Whether or not it is embraced by consumers will have everything to do with each company’s execution and their desire to strive for first-class customer service.

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