The words 'self service' can trigger a range of emotional responses ... fear, cynicism, wonder and maybe even bewilderment. So what's the right reaction when it comes to Self-Service for customer engagement?
Self-Service continues to transform the world. But when it's about passing extra power to your customers via your contact centre, are you ready to grab the future with both hands?
Before answering that, it's worth looking at the big picture of Self-Service across all sectors, making three helpful observations.
#1: Self-Service intrigues people
For a growing number of people, especially millennials, Self-Service is about making life better, more convenient and interesting. Around the world, vending machines dispense everything from burgers and pizza, to mashed potato and bicycles. Dating apps bring millions of people together. And smart apps can help you decorate, using your phone camera to see how colours might look on your walls.
The march towards Self-Service is relentless in virtually every corner of life. If Self-Service saves time, widens choice and gives people more control, it's a winner.
#2: Self-Service provokes fears
As with many innovations, change in the Self-Service arena can sometimes seem risky for consumers and for companies. What if it all goes wrong, makes users feel plain stupid and leaves corporations with egg on their faces? And what if it's potentially insecure or dangerous? For example, self-driving cars and taxis sounds great - but would you volunteer to test out a new service?
Put simply, Self-Service needs to be proven, rock solid and deliver immediate benefits to win people's confidence.
#3: Self-Service becomes 'normal' overnight
Now here's the most curious thing of all. While new ideas can disrupt normal processes and sometimes cause flutters of protest at first, people's attitudes to Self-Service can change in a heartbeat. Once they've embraced Self-Service, it's as if it's been there for ever. And it belongs to them.
Today, just imagine the rumpus if you removed Self-Service checkouts from supermarkets, banned breakfast buffets at hotels, or insisted that people call into a high street travel agent every time they wanted to book a flight or train journey?
This is because, very quickly, consumers become wedded to Self-Service. It can smooth out some of the bumps in their lives and they can't live comfortably without it.
How does this impact contact centres?
Today, a new wave of innovative Self-Service tools for greater customer engagement are within easy reach. They make the most of artificial intelligence, take full advantage of cloud-based technology and are now starting to boost the customer experience to the next level.
It's worth noting that this year, every Fortune 1000 business will add a Chatbot to their tech and marketing stack. More widely, as the use of Chatbots in the contact centres market is expected to grow by 32.1% from 2017 2023* shouldn't UK businesses be doing the same?
Experience of Self-Service in other sectors shows there's a tipping point. What's experimental one day, can become viewed as an absolute 'right' by consumers on the next. And they're outraged when some organisations fail to deliver what they've experienced elsewhere.
The next generation of chatbots look set to be a great example of this. But they only represent a single strand of the self-service transformation about to shake up the contact centre world. Self-Service will energise engagement across new and existing channels. Some companies will seize the initiative, others will get left behind.
Five rules for getting it right
Successful self service can lead to increased sales, greater customer satisfaction and less frustration, not to mention significant savings for organisations. But how can you make sure you win over customers rather than scaring them off?
Download your free copy of the essential guide to Self-Service from Eckoh. You'll discover five principles to follow and expert advice on how to get up-and-running in a way that's quick, affordable and pain-free.
Before long, you'll wonder how you managed before self service arrived.
*Source: European Chatbots Market (2017-2023), published by KBV Research
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