The Shift to Online Self-Service has Only Just Begun

In a previous article we discussed the key customer service soft skills that transform a good customer interaction into a great one. Establishing that human connection with a customer is an essential first step, but establishing that personal rapport takes time. Time you and your customers don’t necessarily have. So, while it’s essential to tailor the inter-personal aspects of the customer interaction, it’s equally important to provide reliable online self-service. And these options are becoming increasingly popular with customers, particularly amongst younger generations.

Perfecting your online self-service options, then, is as important as perfecting the in-person interaction.To make the most of your online self-service, you need to embrace three key principles:- Self-service doesn’t have to be online – self-service can be offered over any channel, either online or over the phone. Your self-service options must be omni-channel.

– Prioritise reducing customer effort – the biggest obstacle to the success of self-service options is always customer effort. If customers can’t reach a solution easily through your self-service options, they’ll stop using them.

– Online self-service will only get bigger – as AI technologies make self-service experiences better and better, self-service will increasingly become the default option for customer engagement.

Providing Omni-Channel Self-Service is a Must

The modern contact center is omni-channel. This means that it offers customers the option to get in touch over the channel they prefer, regardless of what that channel may be. And in a digital landscape defined by the continuous proliferation of communications channels, keeping up with shifting trends is more important than ever.

If you don’t recognize and acknowledge the importance of offering an omni-channel experience, your online self-service is going to suffer:

– The majority of your customers still prefer to get in touch over the phone. 65% prefer the speed and convenience associated with a phone call. Attempting to divert every single one of these interactions to an online portal is going to lead to some frustrated customers. You need to deliver a seamless self-service experience over the phone, supported by Artificial Intelligence, to guide a customer to the correct outcome on the first attempt.

– That said, a significant minority of customers now prefer to contact a business through digital channels. It’s easy to see why; an increasing number of your customers are digital natives. They’re used to finding information online, and resolving any questions they have via webchat. Offering a seamless online self-service experience is essential when it comes to reaching this demographic.

– There are business benefits to supporting online self-service options, too. When the majority of incoming contacts are requests for information, or other non-essential inquiries, online self-service provides a way to divert the simplest inquiries away from your agents. This frees up time that can be dedicated toward resolving the customer problems that matter most.

Coming to grips with online self-service, then, is an effective way of future-proofing your contact center. But a hastily implemented self-service option can lead to confused customers, and do more harm than good. Effective self-service depends on your understanding of the customer journey.

To Create Effective Online Self-Service, Look to the Customer Journey

We’ve all experienced online self-service horror stories: You head to a business’s website to find a resolution to your query, and are directed to an outdated, clunky self-service portal or app. When the portal doesn’t work (Either it won’t let you log in, or its functionality is woefully limited), you’re forced to call up the business’s phone lines. From here, you’re treated to a repeating message to ‘check out our website for self-service options!’ In the worst cases, you’re prevented entirely from speaking to a human agent.

The result is a loop. The customer can’t find a solution to their problem. From here, a defection is almost unavoidable. Creating online self-service that works for your customers depends on your understanding of customer effort score.

– The most important metric for online self-service is Customer Effort Score. This metric measures the level of effort a customer has to go through to reach a solution. Obviously, every self-service option is going to require some expenditure of effort on the customer’s part; your job should be to minimize that effort.

Minimizing customer effort requires an in-depth understanding of the customer journey. It’s not enough to provide a self-service portal; you need to map the most common customer journeys through that portal, to understand every stage the customer passes through, and possible methods for streamlining each stage.

– Provide ‘emergency exits’ when things go wrong. Should a customer hit a loop or experience a problem with your self-service, there’s nothing more frustrating than being sent back to the failed self-service portal. One idea is to include a priority contact channel (either phone or webchat) that can kick in when online self-service fails. This way, customers aren’t sent into endless loops in pursuit of an answer.

Understanding the customer journey is the first step toward reducing customer effort score. And reducing customer effort score is the first step to successful online self-service. As levels of customer contact continue to increase, and your business continues to grow, online self-service will become an inevitability.

Perfect Your Online Self-Service Now, Before it’s Too Late

The digital revolution is in full swing. If your business hasn’t completed its digital transformation, you need to make that happen, fast. Today, it’s expected that even the smallest businesses will be accessible to their customers online. Not providing options for online self-service is anomalous and inconvenient. It’s the quickest way to turn customers to your competition.

Online self-service is only going to become increasingly important, for a number of key reasons:

– Artificial Intelligence, and in particular generative AI, is transforming the way customers look for information and interact with businesses. Today, talking with a genAI-powered chatbot is as normal and effortless as calling up a business. Your customers know what to ask and how; you just need to hand them the keys.

– Online self-service provides an unprecedented degree of scalability. As a business grows, demand for customer contact grows with it. If you can’t scale to support new customers, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.

– An online self-service portal is always on, and accessible from any location. Customer support is no longer restricted to office hours, or when an agent is online. This lets you provide 24/7 support to customers from any location – an essential tool for a global organisation.

Developing your online self-service options is essential to completing your digital transformation. The future is digital; your business must be ready to meet it.

Future-Proof Online Self-Service with storm®

Content Guru’s storm® cloud contact center solution is the first step toward perfecting your online self-service options. storm enables omni-channel customer, whether via phone, webchat, or automated chatbot. Through its intuitive reporting interface, VIEW™, storm provides comprehensive insights into your customer journey, down to the level of the individual customer. To discover more strategies for perfecting your customer journey, download Content Guru’s whitepaper:

storm’s intuitive and accessible interface makes it a first choice when working to improve Agent Experience.


Content Guru makes engagement easy. Its resilient cloud-based solution, storm®, is trusted by the world’s largest organisations to deliver mission-critical, first-class customer experiences quickly and accurately. Leading organizations, from the world’s largest enterprises to public sector agencies and mission-critical service providers, rely on storm‘s unrivalled 99.999% availability and flexible, future-proof capabilities.

Content Guru delivers services in over 100 countries and enables major organizations, from Rakuten Communications to the US Federal Government, to deliver reliable, consistent and best-in-class omni-channel experiences.

For additional information on Content Guru view their Company Profile

error: Content Protected