It's easy to dismiss bold new ideas as passing fads. But when they lead to increased sales, greater customer satisfaction and reduced costs, they can't be ignored. And in the contact centre arena, Self-Service tools are doing just that.
There are times in history when great ideas just didn't work out.
Some came along too soon
Leonardo da Vinci sketched out the helicopter 400 years before the first one was built. In the 19th century, American inventor Charles Fritts devised the solar panel 60 years before the tech really flashed into life. And the first electric car was built as far back as 1837 in Scotland by chemist Robert Davidson, only to see it destroyed by railway workers worried about their jobs.
Some were too costly
In 1981 Xerox blew the minds of competitors with its remarkable Xerox Star workstation, complete with a novel window-based interface, screen icons and two-button mouse. The Xerox Star broke new ground - but it also broke the bank: Kitting out an office with several systems would cost £50-100,000 ... and the new machine hummed to a halt, despite getting so many features spot on.
Some had deep flaws
In the contact centre arena, some traditional Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems have been infamous for trapping customers within labyrinthine menus and an obstacle course of button-pressing to keep their call live. In fact, in a survey for a Discovery Channel TV show in 2012, viewers voted IVRs as the #1 most annoying invention ... of all time. Harsh but understandable.
Sometimes it all comes together
Despite the failures littered through history, there are 'sweet spots' in history when customers, companies and technologies all converge at the right time: Smart ideas no longer look goofy, prove absurdly expensive or completely impractical. Everything just fits together and innovation takes off.
In the contact world, this is true for Self-Service: It's finally come of age. And it's not by chance. There are three forces that have come together at once:
#1: The appetite is there
Today's customers have worked up an appetite for greater control, especially if it's fast, easy and available 24x7. They don't always want to speak to someone if it's simpler to sort in a few clicks on their phones. For instance, one third of all consumers, and 52% of Millennials, would like to see all customer service done through Self-Service intelligent assistants or Chatbots.
#2: The right tech is there
A new wave of reliable, intuitive Self-Service technology now exists across contact channels. Instead of being clunky and impersonal, it's intelligent and customer-friendly. Next-gen IVRs are light years ahead of their hated forerunners. Available via the cloud, a wide range of new Self-Service tools are fast to deploy, can be added incrementally and be paid for as a service.
#3: It's great news for companies too
As companies struggle to keep pace with rising customer expectations, Self-Service helps them to increase service levels without needing to lift an army of agents. They can do more with less and free up their agents from mundane repetitive tasks, using them more tactically for complex enquiries or to boost sales.
Today, organisations such as O2, Ideal World and National Rail Enquiries are using Self-Service tools to streamline interactions, support sales and remove huge pressures off their contact centres. It's a win/win for these organisations and for their customers.
The five rules for getting it right
So what's the secret to success? For answers download your free copy of the essential guide to Self-Service from Eckoh.
You'll discover how Self-Service now reaches further and deeper into customer engagement. The are 10 advanced tools that could be making a difference to your interactions today. You can also find out how to get up-and-running with Self-Service in a way that's quick, affordable and pain-free.
What's more, the sweet spot is getting bigger because customer demand is growing, the tech continues to improve and the return on investment is hugely attractive.
 IVRs – The Most Annoying Invention… Ever: 2000 Consumers Press 1 for Yes
 Aspect 2017 Consumer Survey
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