DIY is good, but not for every customer

Self-serve has become popular with customers and offers huge advantages, but it doesn’t hold all the answers, says Simon Hunt, Director of Products and Solutions for Capita Customer Management.

When we look at the channels we think customers want to contact us by, and then we ask them what channels they would actually like to contact us by… well, there is often a massive disparity.

For example, if you ask customers their preferences for a served or self-served channel, many will say served for certain transactions. Yet some in the industry are pushing for universal self-served, and it can be difficult to square that circle.

Self-serve is popular and can be absolutely the right choice, but there are certainly instances where the underlying intent of its adoption has been to reduce costs for the organisation. As an industry we tend to jump straight to ‘cost-out’. Yes, costs will get driven out by these technologies, but that should be a happy, intended consequence, not the primary driver. That lies with giving the customer the best experience.

It depends on your definition

Self-serve would also appear to be growing rapidly, but if you try to make an accurate estimate of how rapidly, it can be hard to get a meaningful base line.

For example a lot depends on your definition of self-serve. If you no longer send out an instruction book with your products but direct customers to an online manual with frequently asked questions, some organisations would categorise that as self-serve. But is it?

What we can say with certainty, when we look around our customer service teams, is that many of those have not shrunk by the amount we would have expected if the predictions for self-serve were true.

Certainly customers are self-serving, and many really like it, but maybe the pie has just got bigger and there are more questions that people ask us now.

Everything’s gone self-service???

When people say ‘everything’s gone self-service now and customers are no longer contacting us’ I look around and see tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of people in contact centres and say, well what are these guys doing then?

What’s important is that you say to customers, these channels are here, and they can help. But hey guys, if they’re not working for you, we have other ways you can contact us.

That’s essential, because once you leave customers feeling trapped, when the technology herds them in only one direction, that’s what leads to frustration.

Published with permission from Capita Customer Management and must not be reproduced.