If you are considering adding self-service tools to your business’ online experience, rest assured that this is an instance where the hype is borne out by the evidence. Consulting firm McKinsey & Company found that adding self-service elements to your customer care reduces call volumes and operating expenses by 25 to 30 percent. In a McKinsey survey of telecommunications customers, 76 percent were satisfied with a fully digital customer service experience, as opposed to 57 percent satisfaction with traditional encounters. CRM Magazine reports that 45 percent of companies offering digital self-service found an increase in site traffic and a reduction in phone calls. Beyond the numbers, the impact of self-service models is apparent when you look at industries like travel and hospitality, which have moved almost exclusively to online reservations from an in-person agent or phone model.
However, it is important to note that simply adding self-service options is not sufficient; they must be implemented in a way that improves the customer experience. In fact, 45 percent of customers say they will abandon an online purchase if they can’t quickly find answers to their questions, according to Forrester. The following is a brief rundown of self-service options as well as an example of one business’ effective use of both common and unique digital tools.
Unassisted self-service refers to tools a customer can use without human interaction, such as the following:
- Transactional Tools: If you are a business with a product, customers expect to be able to order and pay for that product online. Add self-service online ordering and payment options to your site as well as billing information for recurring charges. For a service-based business, such as a hair salon or auto-repair shop, many customers prefer an online scheduling tool.
- Content Tools: Inc Magazine considers content tools, like an FAQ page and contact information, to be essential components of every business website. Business News Daily suggests going beyond text information and adding screenshots and other visuals to help users troubleshoot common issues. Note that while customers expect this kind of information, they also expect it to be up-to-date and many lose trust if they visit a self-service portal and can’t find information or find unclear information on their specific product.
- Community Forums: Building a peer-to-peer forum where users can assist each other with product questions can improve customer satisfaction and save your business time and resources. For example, the online game trading company Goozex found that 50 percent of its customer support requests were addressed in its community forum.
Assisted self-service tools are those that a customer can access online but require a service agent to complete. These tools include online agent chats, email, and social media customer service responses. Forrester Research estimates that an online self-service interaction using one of these tools can cost a company less than 10 cents as compared to the $6 to $12 call center support for the same issue can cost. One caution when considering providing this type of support, though, 71 percent of users expect help within five minutes, so you must be able to adequately staff any tool provided.
Business Example: Apple Rubber
Apple Rubber is a manufacturing company whose website is a good example of using both common and unique self-service tools. The site offers an FAQ section with quick answers as well as links to more in-depth information. Before directly contacting the company, customers are able to request quotes and find guides on materials, chemicals, and design. Additionally, Apple Rubber has created tools specific to its customers and industry. Its online o-ring gland calculator helps customers figure out their exact manufacturing needs before placing an order. Customers are then able to order a free sample online, which saves both the manufacturer and customer from costly problems down the road on big orders.