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The Economics of Customer Self-Service

EconomicsCustomer self-service continues to be on the list of top trends in customer service.  According to Gartner Group, “By 2017, two-thirds of all customer service interactions will no longer require the support of a human intermediary.” 

Customer self-service is the capability for customers to complete transactions on their own.  In the digital world, self-service transactions are becoming more widespread and provide significant opportunities for organizations. 

Customers expect to be able to resolve their issues quickly and prefer to do so without having to talk with a person.   But the benefits of self-service aren’t just for the customer.  

Successful implementation of customer self-service can significantly reduce operating costs.  For example, according to the Help Desk Institute, an average customer support request to a live agent exceeds $24 per call.   In contrast, according to Forrester Research, a Web self-service interaction can cost a company less than 10 cents to support.

However, poor implementation of self-service can actually have a detrimental impact.  Customer experience can suffer and call center agents can be flooded with calls of disgruntled customers who are having problems with the same tools which are intended to avoid such calls.

While the attractive economics of successful self-service are clear, there are additional benefits to both customer and organization.  Self-service requires capabilities that can be leveraged for additional economic benefit.   Such capabilities include:

  • Robust, contextual knowledgebase – which can also be leveraged for additional efficiency in situations where agents are needed

  • Next best action process guidance – provides for a more consistent experience for both customers and agents as well as decreased training time and costs

  • Personalization – offers and communications can be tailored based on the customer and situation, allowing for more effective upsells and marketing offers.

  • Predictive analytics – better use of customer data can enhance customer experience, enable better decision making and drive additional cost reductions.

As organizations and customers both continue to push for more self-service transactions, many will meet resistance when trying to work with legacy applications, which lack the flexibility to adapt to evolving processes across channels and systems.   Cloud-based technologies, not only enable these capabilities, but they also provide enhanced economics which include an overall lower cost of ownership and a shift from capital expenditure to operating expenditure.

Organizations that successfully implement technologies and processes that heighten responsive and efficient customer self-service are reaping substantial benefits.  Not only the improved economics span beyond customer service to include IT, training and other areas of the business, these organizations extensively enhance their customer experience and engagement.


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