Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Properly Managing the Customer's Self-Service Experience

June 19, 2012

We know that customers use an average of six different channels to interact with the companies in which they do business. These channels include websites, phone calls, interactive voice response, in-person visits, social network conversations, and smartphone applications.

Many companies have to juggle these channels, striving to keep them integrated and properly managed. How important is your Web channel for customer service? Chances are you think it's important. It's also probable that you're underestimating the importance of your Web channel to customers, particularly now that customers prefer self-service to most other channels.

New research by NICE Systems suggests that Internet sites continue to offer the most popular route for people seeking self-service to problems or questions they have about a product or service. If they don’t find an answer, more of them are escalating to another customer service channel in frustration. The channel they choose – telephone – is likely to cost you more money and time than putting a good web-based self-service solution.

“Customers are becoming even more fed up with siloed or segregated approached to customer service,” wrote Smart Planet's, Heather Clancy. “If they have already sought an answer on your Web site, they want that interaction to be visible to a customer service agent, so that they don’t have to waste more time repeating a problem.”

What this means is that cobbled-together, do-it-yourself self-service solutions are not going to cut it. The self-service channels, with which customers interact, must be well maintained, provide all the information customers need in a timely way, and be integrated with any of the other customer contact media people might choose. It's additionally important to give customers a real, easy-to-use path to a live agent should they need it.

Customers know their options nowadays, and it's unlikely they will “settle” on an amateurish customer service experience. NICE calls them “empowered customers.”

“The empowered customer who uses more channels, more often, is in effect creating a big data challenge and opportunity for businesses,” said Benny Einhorn, CMO at NICE. “To maximize the value of these interactions, organizations need to 'own the decisive moment' by shaping the interaction as it happens. Service organizations that can impact that moment consistently across countless interactions and continuously throughout the lifetime of customer relationships will not only survive the rising tide of customer interactions—they’ll thrive.”

When companies thrive, so do their customers...and so does the bottom line.

Edited by Brooke Neuman