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Web self-service. What do you think when you hear that phrase? Saving money? Cutting costs? Lowering service standards? Avoiding the customer? Maybe even promoting laziness? Many call centers focus on the cost savings aspect of self service options. Yet few call center managers see self-service as an asset to improve call center performance.

Let’s look at the ways contact centers can take self-service beyond simple cost savings.

The Next Step in Self-Service

Self-service can help businesses to automate processes, save time, and increase service quality. It can also help agents focus on what they do best–dealing with customers in complex interactions that require a human brain. However, self-service can provide many other benefits that improve the customer experience and increase organizational awareness.

Here are some ways self-service can become a strong asset:

  • Choice – Customers love to be in control of their experience. With self-service, you are giving them the freedom to ask their own questions and find their own answers on their own time. As long as you make it easy for them to find what they are looking for, they will be happy with the ability to find the answer without needing to wait for an agent or explain a problem. In regards to sales, the self-service option gives customers the ability to configure their own customized products in real time, without waiting. Customers receive a unique experience each time.
  • Information – The questions customers ask, the kind of people who frequent the site, and the comments customers leave are all valuable sources of customer intelligence. By leveraging these sources of information, your business can fine tune marketing messages while also improving your products and services. Information on customer problems can be leveraged for your development team.
  • Community – When you allow “expert” customers to answer other customers’ questions, you not only extend your effective agent base, but you also create a community around your business. Customers are given a forum where they can connect with each other and demonstrate their knowledge. Apple does an excellent job with their help forums, creating a sort of reputation economy that rewards users for answering each others questions.
  • Cross-sell – You can serve highly relevant, targeted ads to customers on you web self-service portal that boost cross and up sales. An example of this is Barclays, which introduced an ad-serving module to its online knowledge base site. The ads for other Barclays services were characterized by a much higher 12% response rate then the typical 1% online response rate for ads. These new sales create additional revenue streams from your self-service solution.

This short list isn’t exhaustive. There are many ways that companies are using self-service in innovative ways. How is your business using web self-service? Is it using self-service? Where is the future going to lead it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

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