Customer Service: Three Self-Service Pitfalls and Solutions
On the surface, customer self-service seems like a pretty good idea. What catalog company wouldn’t want to lessen the burden on its own staff by providing customers the means to handle their own issues? But like other things that also sound too good to be true, self-service has its own set of pitfalls. Some of these pitfalls and associated solutions are outlined in a recent whitepaper released by customer service software provider eGain. Following are three self-service pitfalls and how to avoid them in your business:
1. Self-service isn’t a foolproof way to reduce costs. Although the most common reason for marketers to implement self-service is cost reduction, it’s by no means a silver bullet, eGain officials write. Self-service can free customer service representatives (CSRs) from routine tasks that customers can handle on their own, but it removes a customer touchpoint, which can hinder the customer relationship.
Avoid possibly damaging that relationship by offering self-service as just one more option in the wide spectrum of ways to interact with your company, the whitepaper’s authors suggest. Don’t make it the only way for a customer to achieve a particular goal, such as canceling an order or finding out the shipping status on an order. Additionally, self-service options should offer a different kind of experience. eGain officials reference Amazon’s many online features, such as customer reviews and search capabilities, features that aren’t accessible through a phone call.
2. Self-service doesn’t mean eliminating customer interactions. Whether a customer chooses to reach you by telephone or the Internet, you haven’t eliminated an interaction point, rather you’ve just shifted it. Whether customers choose to reach you via telephone or Internet self-service, you still have a responsibility to preserve the quality of their experiences with your company. And Web self-service and telephone self-service are vastly different vehicles that present different challenges to the customer, eGain writes. Because of those challenges, it’s sometimes necessary to teach customers how to use self-service. If you’re considering adding Web self-service for customers who aren’t used to interacting online, be prepared to have CSRs occasionally walk them through the process over the phone.
3. Self-service isn’t a quick fix. “Adding ad-hoc self-service capability into an organization that doesn’t have self-service centric processes can be worse than no self-service at all,” the whitepaper’s authors write. A successful self-service option can’t be implemented to immediately relieve beleaguered CSRs of call volume. Companies that successfully implement self-service options do so because self-service is a logical extension of their business model, eGain officials write. It should provide an immediate and measurable benefit for the customer, not the company.
For a copy of eGain’s “5 Web Self-Service Pitfalls,” visit http://www.egain.com/best_practices/white_papers.asp.