By Damian Martina

Using Self-Service To Improve The Customer Experience


IBIS World reports that over the past five years, cloud computing adoption has caused a strong move to online sales. This has increased the need to focus more on customer service that adds value and increases revenue.

Misconceptions about online self-service

There is a misconception that online self-service provides a poorer customer experience than a face-to-face or human interaction. But if COVID-19 has shown us anything, it’s that face-to-face contact is not essential when it comes to building great customer relationships and servicing customers.

What’s more, if there is a problem with building customer relationships, it’s usually because company systems aren’t talking to each other and there’s no single view of the customer information.

Have you ever called a company and been passed around to different representatives because each area is unsure if they can help you? It’s frustrating and it’s a clear sign that their systems aren’t up to scratch. The same frustrations apply if, as a returning online customer, the website doesn’t recognise you and you have to input your payment and contact details again and again.

Myth that online self-service is a lower level experience – busted.

Why self-service will become a big play for tech companies

I spoke to William Jones, Account Executive at Salesforce, about why self-service and platforms such as Salesforce Communities are becoming a big play in the High Tech space. William believes High Tech companies are getting to a point of maturity and looking to increase their revenue.

“Self-service allows for automation and understanding that customers no longer need to have human contact to resolve their small administrative problems. I think organisations are starting to realise that there is significant value to be gained from knowing when a customer doesn’t need to speak to somebody,” he says.

He also believes that giving customers greater autonomy can be a real bonus in customer experience. For example, if a customer begins their self-service transaction and is interrupted by a meeting, they want the ability to come back and deal with it later, in their own time.

In fact, 66% of customers would rather use self-service for simple questions/issues. Not only does this allow customers to get an answer in real time, but it also frees up customer service and sales agents to deal with more complex issues.

On top of this, having all your customer information on one platform, such as Salesforce Communities, can empower your customers to take charge of how they use your service. In today’s subscription marketplace, you need to understand and anticipate your customers’ next move. By being aware of your customers’ actions, you can help them make informed purchase choices. The key to success is to make each step of the self-service sales cycle as easy as possible.

For example, one company’s website sent me a pop-up asking if I was sure I wanted to purchase an item. The system had recognised me and my past purchases and realised the item I had added to my cart didn’t work with the others. That pop-up saved me from making an incorrect purchase and a potentially annoying returns job, and as result I was able to self-serve to the correct item.

Tools to help you switch your business operations online

According to Gartner’s 2019 Customer Service and Support Leader poll live channels such as phone, live chat and email cost an average of $8.01 per contact, while self-service channels such as company-run websites and mobile apps cost about $0.10 per contact. With such varying costs, it’s no surprise the High Tech industry is starting to take a more self-service dominant approach.

With the right tools, you can start measuring the total lifetime value of your customer. And with self-service, lower the cost of customer acquisition. There are three great tools to help you switch to more effective online business operations.

1. A strong cross-platform communications system

This will help you to start to understand your metrics. You’ll be able to tell at a glance how your customer prefers to talk with your company, e.g. a pop-up chat feature or Facebook.

2. A robust back-end system

As a company you want to have all your customer information, like CRM and billing data, in one place. You also want flexible business processes that allow you to easily change things according to customer requests or even have approvals processes set up before the customer asks for change. For example, if a customer wants to end a software subscription, you can have your system set up so you can offer them a discounted rate to continue their relationship with you.

3. An automated marketing tool

An automated marketing tool offers personalised communications to customer databases, both large and small. It can help with customer engagement and satisfaction and allow you to build an ongoing relationship with customers, as opposed to a one-off contact at renewal time. An automated marketing tool can also offer customers the possibility of early renewal in exchange for a reward. A sales member doesn’t even need to get involved.

William adds it’s important to take a phased approach. “It’s like building a house; you don’t need to have everyone on site at once.”

To find out more about online self-service and the tools that can help you deliver an online service as great as your product, contact the Simplus team today.

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