Customer Self Service Can Still Reduce Costs

Customer self service has been shown to reduce costs in contact centers by as much as 20% with self-service capabilities that include customers researching and buying through self-directed channels.

Buying via these routes has been shown to increase the revenue per user by as much as 18%, when the provider offers effective self-service interaction for the customer.

The recent transformation of self-care into customer self service, outlines the ways in which enterprises can create effective self-service interfaces, and considers self service as part of a wider multi-channel CRM architecture.

Self-care evolved into customer self service during the past five years

Increased labour costs and flattening, or even decreasing ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) , has seen providers shift contact time from customer service representatives (CSRs) to less-expensive machine-assisted channels as much as possible. This was initially only to answer questions about customers’ accounts and to provide information about available services and products. However, consumer familiarity with online interactions, more-intuitive computer user interfaces, and the rapidly decreasing software integration tax1 have transformed self-care into a much more powerful set of customer self service capabilities. The retail industries have pioneered these systems, architectures, and techniques and they are now finding increasing use worldwide.

Most leading providers use a combination of IVR, Website, Mobile App, SMS, and Social Media Site along with the major functions usually provided by self-service.

Providing an effective customer self service interface has many benefits for the enterprise including up to an 18% increase in customer revenue through selling features and accessories ancillary to the consumer’s current services and products, increased customer loyalty, and the establishment of a corporate ‘branding point’ in a mobile smartphone or tablet app.

To provide an effective self-service interface to a customer, the enterprise must:

  • Optimize the user experience for the device used to access self-service
  • Plan for customers ‘channel hopping’ during the discovery, decision-making, and buying processes and therefore embedding self-service in a multi-channel customer care architecture – rather than implementing it as a standalone channel
  • Personalize the offers to the customer. This requires a combination of information from the agents records about the customer, the customer’s recent experience and actions, the overall account, and often those of their family or friends
  • Provide easy access to an agent when needed, while providing the agent with all the information to smoothly advance the transaction
  • Integrate selected social networking features for advice and help.

The modern multi-channel CRM architecture

The customer self service channel is just one of several important channels – and consumers typically take advantage of more than one of them in any given transaction, “‘channel hopping’ as much as 40% of the time.

The consumer interacts through a number of channels, including self-service (mobile, web, IVR, kiosk or social networking application), talking with a customer call center agent, interacting with a retail store employee, or even going through a channel partner. In all of these cases, the same, personalized offers are available to the customer through an enterprise-level product catalog and personalization recommendations loaded into software that serves as the channel co-ordination layer. The personalization recommendations come from personalization policies, matched to the subscriber data and product catalogs.

The channel co-ordination layer provides the uniformity of experience. It ensures that each customer has access to the same products and services in the same way, and has a co-ordinated shopping cart. This allows the consumer to interact flexibly with the CSP without having to start over at any part of the marketing and sales process.

Integration with the billing and service fulfillment supports the immediacy of the experience. Questions of availability, prerequisites and bundling options can be answered immediately through any channel. When the time comes for the order to be processed it can be immediately checked for errors and implemented automatically and expitiously

Self-care has developed enormously – and has even further to go. Greater personalization of offers and experience, based on the current and expected profitability of serving that particular customer represents a huge opportunity. This will be achieved by more powerful business analytics engines and mining data from a variety of internal and external sources and presented to the customer in more sophisticated ways to increase their relevance to the customer’s immediate wishes and needs.

By: Tony Porter, Head of Global Marketing
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Posted by eckoh at 3:30 PM on Aug 6, 2015

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