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To support one’s customers in the best way possible and help them with any problems they might have, has always been a cornerstone of successful entrepreneurship. Email and the phone are still today’s prevailing means of getting in touch with customers during the support process. But due to the continuously progressing digitization, which accompanies and shapes the transformation of our world, new possibilities for meeting the constantly increasing expectations people might have and at the same time saving cost and time arise. Tools for a future-oriented customer service like live and video chats, chatbots, social media, crowd-based solutions and self-service offerings enable companies to provide their customers a tailored experience as well as a quick and efficient solution to their problems. Therefore, optimizing one’s own customer service is a determining factor with regard to the future.

Ubiquitous availability of information and an oversupply of products of any kind allow today’s consumers  to be more informed about and critical towards businesses and their service portfolio. Thus, their steadily rising expectations and needs lead to more specific decisions and consequently force companies to be innovative in order to maintain a competitive edge. In particular, this means finding ways to cater to their customers’ needs even more individually. As a result, the focus on customer service as an important success factor is growing constantly.¹

For many years, the digital revolution finds its way into all aspects of life.  This change offers an opportunity to connect with customers right where they already spend a lot of their time: on their own digital devices, any time and anywhere.² Because of that, methods like automated self-service processes, live and/or video chats, chatbots, social media and crowd-based solutions are seen as the future of customer service. These contact channels, combined with ease of use and intuitive handling are key to the success of any service offering in the future and will influence the user experience positively in the long run.³

Contemporary customer service aims at a high degree of automation, which is why  e.g. chatbots are seen as having great potential. The “computer-based dialog systems, that can support customers especially with standardized queries”⁴, are mainly used to guide customers automatically through repetitive processes without great staff expenses. However, this implementation also harbors risks as the user experience and satisfaction can be impacted significantly by poorly answered questions. Additionally, chatbots evidently don’t impede further queries by customers.⁵ Therefore, people have “advised against a total dehumanization of the service”⁶, because even if technology can solve the logistical problems of customer care, customer journey and experience management, individual support by humans is essential as soon as the problems go beyond standard cases.

For that reason, companies trend towards guided self-service solutions, which can, e.g.,  be implemented into service-apps. Such solutions offer a well-balanced mix of both approaches: on the one hand, guided self-service processes rely on a high degree of automation, just like chatbots, to be able to help the customers quickly and without waiting time. On the other hand, they guide customers way more targeted and intuitively through their problem solving process. Thanks to the precise and often predictable data, the whole process is less error-prone and especially technical issues can be solved successfully. The self-service process  allows the customer to learn about the problem with every step and a the clear path through the whole procedure guarantees a successful conclusion. The term might be overused, but this really is a win-win situation for all participants. The company can take care of their customers’ needs flexibly and highly individualized while reducing service costs and making contact to a real service employee obsolete. The customer on the other hand profits from a quick and intuitive support process with no waiting time even outside of business hours.

Of course no guided self-service solution will ever handle 100% of all cases. At some point,  the traditional customer service has to be tied in. But now, there is already some information available to a service agent, which has been provided by the self-service process and therefore call handling times will go down.  And, always keep in mind that personal interaction with the customer also contains potential, like upselling possibilities or just connecting with your customers.

This might sound easy, but  you really need a thoroughly thought-out concept, because  self-service is not equivalent to outsource service to your customers. For more complex and, above all, subject-specific topics, it is not enough to simply provide customers with the information they need, so that they have to find their own answers, as it would be the case with FAQs, for example. Instead, structured procedures that are individually matched to the specific customer and situation , potentially including local data provided by e.g. the phones sensors, are needed. This is contemporary self-service: providing  detailed instructions for solving a customer’s problems in a given situation, using given hardware, in a way that matches a customers’ technical understanding and skills.

Are you ready to give it a try? Do you wonder how to implement such self-service in your company? Contact us! We support you on your way to become a self-service enterprise.