Many businesses today are turning to self-service software applications to accelerate service delivery, improve customer convenience, and reduce related expenses. But, an effective self-service strategy requires more than just technology. Here are some tips to help put your company on the path to self-service success.
What are you trying to accomplish with your self-service software? Is reducing service-related costs your primary objective? Or is increasing customer convenience more important to you? By understanding your goals, you can approach your initiatives from the right perspective and better measure their impact and how your self-service software can better serve your needs.
Don’t try to automate everything at once. Start with just a few of the most basic – and high volume – transactions such as frequently asked questions, account information, contact data updates, and order tracking. This will allow you to slowly get the experience you need to address more sophisticated requirements, while realizing some quick return on investment from your self-service software. Refine these services until they work flawlessly and your customers are completely satisfied with them, and then move on to more complex procedures.
Different services are better suited for different channels, so don’t buy into the idea that they all need to be delivered in the same way. For example, it is extremely difficult to access a detailed account statement using an interactive voice response (IVR) system, but viewing that same statement can be quick and easy via the Web. On the other hand, IVR may be better suited for applications targeted towards mobile users who are disconnected from the Web – like traveling sales reps who need to confirm flight information. Assess each service individually and consider all potential delivery channels to determine the best and most usable option.
As the saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. If you launch a flawed self-service software system, your customers are likely to get frustrated and return to using your call center as their primary source of support. On the other hand, a convenient first experience will encourage them to come back for more. So make sure the first few services you introduce are error-proof. Test each service thoroughly using internal staff, as well as a small sub-set of your customer base, before you make them available to the masses.
Gather ideas from a small sample of your customers before you enable them to serve themselves. This will help you put your self-service software to the best possible use. Once your self-service software applications are live, continue to gather feedback from your user base and fine-tune the self-service software as needed.
Your self-service software should not be used to support “stand-alone” service offerings. It should be implemented to extend and enhance – not replace – other service delivery channels. In order to deliver world-class support to your customers, your self-service software applications must work hand in hand with email, phone, live chat, and other support mechanisms.