Contact Center Solutions Featured Article

Twenty-first Century Self-Service for the Contact Center is Smart

February 03, 2017

While you may spend a lot of time hiring, training and managing your human contact center workforce – and you should – it’s important that you don’t left self-service slide when updating your contact center solutions. It’s no longer enough to have an FAQ page on your Web site and an antiquated interactive voice response (IVR) routing your customers’ calls at the front end. Today, customers expect self-service contact center solutions to be smart, omnichannel and interactive.

For a number of years, Aspect has been helping contact centers understand the needs of customers through its Aspect Consumer Experience Index. The annual survey of 1,000 customers investigates the attitudes, preferences and behaviors regarding customer touchpoints and engagement within the specific context of self-service, customized or personalized service and the hot topics of messaging, “intelligent assist” and “chatbots.” In the past, the Index has identified that about two-thirds of customers are happiest when they can solve their own problems rather than have to seek out a live agent.

When self-service is built properly, customers are able to do this. Most companies have all the information that customers need, they just don’t yet have it available in a format or through a gateway that customers can use easily.

“In our ever increasing digital lives, the ability to gather information instantly – whether it’s from search engines, crowdsourcing, virtual personal assistants, video tutorials or online communities, has made us (consumers) more knowledgeable and less patient than ever before,” wrote Joe Gagnon, Chief Customer Strategy Officer              for Aspect in a recent blog post. “What this means for customer service is that consumers won’t tolerate waiting for service. They want to do it on their own time and via the channels they prefer.”

Younger customers, in particular, will likely prefer a more twenty-first century method of self-service (their tolerance for hunting through FAQs or interacting with your IVR will be low). They’ll approach social media, they’ll look for a mobile app or they’ll engage with a virtual assistant, or chatbot. They’ll also expect any self-service transaction (or live agent escalation) to carry their “context” and data from each interaction seamlessly to the next interaction, even if the customer switches channels, according to Gagnon.

Today’s customers also expect the companies they work with to be proactive. Customers who find out important account information long after the fact – a price hike, a shipping delay, an account adjustment – will be angry, particularly since they know it was in the power of your company to inform them. Reaching out also presents significant marketing and customer experience opportunities.

“Brands can proactively communicate with customers to inform them of order status messages, appointment and prescription reminders, service outage notifications, and other messages depending on business needs,” wrote Gagnon. “The consumer to company relationship has forever changed. Self-service consumer engagement does not have to be lackluster and unfulfilling.”

Edited by Stefania Viscusi