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Self Service – Great idea but make sure it works!

fm.self.serve.image.jan.2016Self service has been covered extensively by us and has become one of the new ‘buzz words’ of the contact centre industry. Think about it – it makes sense for the contact centre industry.

By giving customers the option and facilities for self service it gives agents valuable and costly time to handle ‘more complicated calls’ and, using the words of Jabra, thus making them ‘Super Agents’ or ‘Knowledge Workers’.

A simple update to a contact centre’s website can give the option of self service; updating the ‘menu’ can be an effective and cost-effective way of ‘diverting’ the caller to the self service route.

In essence self service to both the contact centre and customer is a ‘win-win’ situation, but, and yes there is a but, ONLY if the self service options are relevant, well thought out and to the ultimate benefit of both customers and the contact centre.

Please allow me to put this in the context of a problem that we experienced in the office this morning; as a website publishing company we obvious rely heavily on a reliable and fast broadband connection for us to function as a company.

This morning our broadband was down – previous experience has taught us to prior to telephoning our service provider (on our mobiles as all of our office telephones are VOIP thereby dependent on Broadband) we run an initial test or ‘self-help’ such as re-booting the server or, if that doesn’t resolve the problem, do what most IT professionals do with tech and switch it off and on with crossed fingers.

A call to our broadband provider was now in order – the ‘menu’ first suggested that we check their website for service status (great idea if you haven’t got access to the internet) – thereafter prompted to provide account numbers and passwords the system informed me that there were NO reported faults in our area and subsequently terminated the call. (wouldn’t it be a good option to allow the caller to have another simple option like be transferred to an agent?)

Another call was made with again ‘not applicable’ advice being given and then the obligatory account and password checks; with a series of options available I pressed ‘option 1’ to be taken to the department that handles people who are considering leaving the service provider for no other reason than the option to report a fault was not made available.

With the possibility of losing a long standing customer the call was answered within seconds and quickly transferred to their ‘technical support centre’ to be answered by ‘Sam’ who quickly established that the broadband was down until 1.00pm this afternoon as there was a planned upgrade on the service thus making the connection ‘super fast’.

I questioned as to why I had not been informed of the upgrade – Wouldn’t it be good PR or customer relations for the service provider to make it known to customers that their service was being upgraded at no extra cost prior to the work being carried out so that alternative work arrangements can be made? Or in our case going to our second office, Starbucks, to use their free Wi-Fi!

Why wasn’t the ‘menu’ updated with the upgraded maintenance details?

By the very nature of me writing this rant clearly our broadband is now fully operational.

The morale of this tale? Self service is only as good as the information updated on the contact centre systems and that it only works if carefully thought out and executed self service options are made available.

The service provider in question? The fear of a law suit forbids me from revealing our broadband service provider but we have tweeted the company’s CEO, Richard Branson.

Have a great week ahead!

The Editor

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