Self-service adoption is increasing. From self-service checkouts at retail outlets to self-service support in eCommerce, many companies strive to cater for the modern, autonomous customer.
After all, most customers aim to avoid human support unless they have complex issues. Frost & Sullivan research supports this, uncovering that 81% of customers prefer finding answers to their queries without reaching out directly to a company. Just 5% would rather interact with a human agent.
Self-service also brings many benefits to companies, including enhanced efficiency. It eases workloads on contact center teams, reduces customer effort, and saves costs. What’s more, the ways in which it does so are becoming increasingly sophisticated.
The trends below highlight this, pinpointing areas of self-service innovation and lifting the lid on how the technology is evolving customer experiences.
1. Pandemic-Led Self-Service Adoption is Here to Stay
As a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic, several businesses temporarily closed their physical outlets, with some also reducing staff numbers to meet guidelines. Digital experiences and self-service then came to the fore, as companies endeavoured to reduce the pressure on contact centers.
From self-service eCommerce checkouts to automated form filling, CX teams reimagined a whole host of customer journeys. In doing so, companies could provide the quick wins customers wanted without overburdening their teams.
Now, it is unlikely customers will return in their droves to old habits of interacting with companies. As such, self-service becomes a crucial, competitive battleground to win customers, and brands will likely employ increasingly intuitive solutions.
2. Solutions Become Smartphone-Centric
No matter whether a customer uses their desktop or smartphone, they expect a seamless self-service experience. Therefore, CX teams must consider the compatibility of their solution across a range of smartphone devices, not only the PC.
Also, companies should contemplate the journey customers take – through their smartphones – when they wish to escalate a self-service experience. Is it easy to escalate the interaction to a phone call or messaging exchange? By thinking omnichannel, contact centers can ensure a slick escalation pathway while guaranteeing that the context of the self-service journey moves with the customer. Agents may then pick up the interaction where it left off, so customers do not have to repeat any information.
3. Artificial Intelligence Seeps into Self-Service
Without AI, many self-service solutions – such as chatbots – become script-based, generic, and unintuitive. As a result, they never evolve and can only handle the simplest of queries.
Alternatively, AI-infused bots feed off new data, learn, and generate better customer outcomes over time. For this reason, the conversational AI market is expected to grow at an annual rate of 22% between 2020 and 2025, according to Deloitte.
However, AI will also improve other self-service propositions, including:
- Proactive customer support – AI tools can analyze where a customer is on their journey, alongside their sentiment. As such, contact centers can send proactive messages to deliver helpful, timely information in the most appropriate manner.
- Crowdsourcing forums – The crowd provides data that AI tools can scour through and assess to present customers with the most pertinent responses. They may also gather critical learnings to spread across the business.
- Self-service portals – Analytics technologies provide insights into how customers use portals, so the contact center can continually improve self-service experiences. The technology may also trigger recommendations to customers when they appear stumped, reducing the chances of an escalation.
4. Speed Determines Self-Service Success
Across all channels, speed drives customer satisfaction, according to a Freshworks study of 107 million support interactions. The good news is that self-service typically provides a much lower time-to-resolution for common customer issues. After all, there is no queue or wait time, and identity verification is often automatic.
Due to this drive to speed up CX, businesses are likely to invest more in self-service and turn to self-service innovations that reduce time to resolution.
For instance, many businesses will redesign online knowledge portals for convenient navigation. In this example, gains in natural language understanding (NLU) may prove highly beneficial.
Also, some CX teams will redesign conversational flows within self-service portals, factoring in more exceptions and variables.
5. Integrations Pave the Way for Self-Service Personalization
As self-service becomes a CX staple, customers expect more personalization. In adding this, companies evolve self-service experiences and deliver more than mere convenience.
Integrations play an integral role here. Data collected across platforms – such as the CRM system – adds new capabilities to the self-service solution, enabling contact centers to automate more complex queries. A win-win for the customer and company.
For example, perhaps a customer is browsing the service renewal section of the company website. A proactive chatbot message may then pop up asking: “Can I help you renew your subscription?” Retrieving information from the CRM – relating directly to that customer – the bot may automate the entire query. In doing so, it may also incorporate details, such as the customer’s name, into its dialogue to push personalization further.
Interested to learn how further integrations will improve CX? Check out our article: Contact Center Integrations That Will Bolster Your CRM Strategy