Home > Columns > Executive Interviews

Sitel Executive Interview

Isabella Mongalo, Director of Digital Care Strategy, Sitel

How Brands Can Improve Self-Service CX in 2020

The self-service customer experience (CX), or the ability for a consumer to find helpful information to solve product or service issues on their own, is a relevant and appealing model to businesses and their customers. It allows consumers to get the fastest service possible, and brands to reduce live interactions and cost while still improving CX.

In fact, according to Zendesk, 91% of consumers would use an online knowledgebase if it were available and tailored to their needs. Gartner data echoes this insight as 70% of consumers now use self-service for customer service. However, only 9% of consumers fully resolve their issues through self-service. This disconnect between how consumers use self-service and the ability for self-service to resolve their issues can actually make the customer experience more frustrating, which is critical for brands to understand in order to improve upon this CX model. In an era where CX is one of the last major differentiators in the marketplace, having an impactful self-service model can make or break customer retention.

So why is positive self-service CX so hard to achieve when it’s a priority to the consumer? Let’s discuss how brands that struggle to provide positive CX with self-service models can improve their strategies for the future. 

Utilize self-service for the right problems

One of the first realizations that brands looking to improve self-service CX must make is that not every problem can be solved without involving a human being. By implementing self-service for problems that are much more easily solved with the help of a customer service representative (i.e., a person) it sets the customer up for frustration from the start. At the same time, requiring a customer speak to a person when they could easily solve an issue themselves with a little bit of extra information similarly creates frustration. 

For example, in the retail industry, tracking an order should no longer require picking up the phone and reading out your order number to a person. The customer expectation is that they should be able to go to the website and find the information themselves. However, in the financial industry, if a consumer has a fraudulent charge on their account, they are often more comfortable speaking with or chatting with a real human being to ensure their problem is fully resolved.

While self-service and human support are two of the options most commonly used in customer service, there is a middle ground that brands should also consider: guided support through conversational AI. This form of support, which doesn’t involve a human being, can be the best solution for some brands and problems where self-service content or human support are not the best or most efficient solutions.

Implement Data-Driven Strategies

To correctly identify which issues are best solved through self-service versus guided support (conversational AI) versus human interactions, brands should look at the analytics and insights behind their customer journey to outline the most common problems their customers face. From there, brands can identify which of those problems are best solved through human customer service interaction, guided support or self-service.

Utilizing existing data to identify the most common customer service issues and resolutions is a cost-effective way for brands to strategically determine which information should be made available for self-service and which is better discussed with a customer service representative.

Augment existing communication channels

Driving customers away from how they would typically interact with a brand can be a recipe for CX failure. Instead of introducing new ways for customers to look for information on their own, focus on creating a cohesive strategy which aligns with customers’ expectations of existing communication channels. For example, if a consumer typically looks to a brand’s website for customer service resolution, creating a conversational AI-powered chatbot popup to help consumers with the most commonly asked questions can significantly cut down on the need for consumers to speak with a real person and make their problem resolution time much faster.  This kind of guided support offers brands the opportunity to increase the use of self-service content and tools in a way that feels conversational and seamless for the user by offering up in the info in a way that’s more natural and digestible, through a conversation.

While many brands have focused on implementing CX that creates the easiest path to purchase, some have fallen behind in creating successful self-service. To retain customers in the crowded marketplace this year and beyond, brands must reflect on how they can improve their self-service experience and consider how a middle ground option using conversational AI could be the answer.