Despite notable interest from CX leaders and consumers, self-service channels have been struggling to make an impact, but customer journey and technological enhancements could finally help open the door to success.
More often than not, most people prefer to fix their problems on their own when possible, something that has only become more accurate in the digital era with the evolution of self-service support. 75% of customers consider self-service support channels, such as web portals, virtual assistants, and knowledge bases, to be a convenient way to address issues they might have with a product or service, with CX leaders also having much to gain from the cost reductions these services provide through reducing agent workloads.
Despite this enthusiasm from both sides, self-service solutions have not yielded much success for most businesses or customers today. Approximately half of CX leaders have admitted that their self-service solutions have been held back by low adoption rates, with 71% of customers having found themselves more often than not disappointed by the self-service options given to them.
In an ironic twist, businesses have focused more on what these self-service channels can offer them rather than what they can do to improve their customer’s experiences with them. However, by realizing and fixing the common pain points customers face when using these tools and incorporating emergent trends, businesses might be able to gain both cost savings and a digital human-focused support system.
What Issues Are Impacting Customer Adoption?
Additional AI and automation implementation may seem like the easiest fix for flagging self-service adoption, but the truth is that these channels will only reach their full potential if they fix the core issues currently impacting them, such as:
- Long Resolution Times
One of the most notable perks self-service solutions can provide is quick resolutions to customer queries without needing a human agent or technician. Provided, if these channels are correctly implemented, that is.
From issues like outdated IVR systems stuffed with too many options to basic chatbot solutions that offer limited answers and do not allow customers to return to previous choices, the unfortunate reality is that many self-service tools often cause customers to take more time to resolve their issues. This not only results in customers having a poor experience—as well as decreasing the chance they return to self-service—but also higher costs for businesses as unhappy customers return to their contact centers for assistance.
- Quantity Over Quality
As technology evolves in the digital era, it makes sense that businesses would invest in the latest and greatest to offer more avenues for self-service. However, despite this goal being a smart one, this has the potential to make businesses a jack-of-all-trades, but a master of none.
More options often result in business resources being divided up even more, worsening the quality offered in each service and needlessly complicating the customer journey with dead ends. Instead, brands should devote their time to ensuring the overall quality of each touchpoint, ensuring that each self-service channel can successfully be as close as possible to resolving issues as an agent is, if not better.
- “High-Effort” Channel Transitions
Viewing self-service channels as a replacement for contact centers or a completely separate entity from human-lead support has resulted in a large disconnect within the support experience when a transition from a self-service channel to a human agent occurs. In these instances, agents are more likely to be unaware of the customer’s issues when they shift from a chatbot to a human, effectively restarting the customer support journey. This is known as a “high-effort” transition.
With less than half of customers that go through a high-effort transition being willing to use self-service options again, businesses not only need to optimize handoffs between each of their channels but also realize that switching to a live agent doesn’t disrupt their goal to increase self-service adoption. In fact, successful transitions to human representatives increase customer opinions of self-service channels by 82%, all while reducing the effort they put into finding a solution by 92%.
How Can Businesses Further Enhance Self-Service?
Once businesses shift the focus back to their customer’s needs and optimize their journey, they can begin to not only fully realize the potential of self-service channels but also enhance them with state-of-the-art technology and trends.
- Generative AI
Generative AI has taken CX leaders by storm, with many businesses having started piloting the technology. While it will take time for companies to fully realize the potential of these tools, there are already many examples of “quick wins” that companies can use to improve self-service channels, like:
- Mapping out optimal customer journey maps to ensure consistent experiences
- Simplify handoffs between self-service channels to agents by creating auto-generated summaries of the issues and customer details
- Introduce smarter virtual assistants that can generate more accurate answers faster than ever
And just like self-service, customers are just as excited as industry leaders by the potential of generative AI, with 89% leaving their interactions with gen AI-powered virtual assistants satisfied.
- Improved Omnichannel Connectivity
As we discussed in a previous piece, omnichannel experiences have shifted from being a nice perk to an absolute must-have. However, despite being a popular buzzword for years, only 13% of businesses confirmed that they had an omnichannel set up in 2023, resulting in many channels—self-service included—being siloed off.
Setting up an omnichannel approach to CX initiatives, digital or traditional, will be game-changing for self-service solutions. Not only will transitions between channels be much smoother, but the interconnectivity provided by omnichannel services will allow data to flow much easier between support operations, allowing both bots and contact center agents to gain a far greater picture of how to provide the best CX possible to customers.
- Predictive Analytics
When customers use a self-service support channel, it is likely in response to an issue that has already occurred. However, what if businesses could reach customers before anything goes wrong?
In an increasingly crowded industry landscape, predictive analytics has become a significant factor in helping organizations differentiate their CX offerings, and it can also benefit self-service operations. With the issue of data siloing removed after journey optimizations, AI and machine learning tools can analyze this information for reoccurring patterns and pass on these valuable insights to businesses to incorporate into their CX program. From learning about common issues customers seek assistance for to what options have the lowest success rates, CX leaders can quickly pivot their plans to accompany what customers truly want out of their support services, often before they know it.
Additionally, generative AI has already shown the potential to offer even better results, not only realizing upcoming issues customers may face but also proactively reaching out to them beforehand to solve the problem before it results in a call to a contact center.
Drive Self-Service Success in 2024
Like any CX solution, achieving self-service excellence right out of the gate is a tough ask for any organization. With many channels and emergent technology to consider, improving these processes can quickly become overwhelming without the help of a trusted partner.
Our team of CX and Omnichannel experts have been helping countless clients revitalize and optimize their digital channels for nearly two decades. From our offering of in-depth CX consulting to target problem areas in your customer journey to guided demos of our proprietary automation tools and virtual assistants, our team can help you redefine what your customers expect out of a digital experience.