The Secret to Top Quality Customer Service? Putting Consumers in the Driving Seat

Customer self-service on mobile

Rob Nash, Founder and Managing Director of 4 Roads explains how providing a good CX experience is all about empowering customers with technologies that enable them to reach solutions quickly.

A recent report on Customer experience (CX) shows as much as one-third of customers would consider switching companies after just one instance of bad customer service.

This clearly highlights the extent to which CX determines brand perception, so the important question is, well, what makes a good CX experience?

Thanks to today’s “Google culture”, customers are now used to sourcing information on their own and at relative speed. So businesses must be able to put customers in the driving seat, and that’s where Intelligent Self-Service (ISS) comes into play.

It’s all about empowering the customer by utilising technologies that enable them to reach solutions quickly along their customer journey.

Who benefits?

Smaller businesses, by nature, are at an advantage. Their often single-dimensioned service and straightforward systems mean they deal simply and directly with customers making them implicitly personable in their customer service and any self-service options they may use.

As a business increases in size, however, more fragmented functions and complex systems mean the customer-first perspective can be lost. Whilst ISS should be a consideration for all businesses, larger companies will need to work harder to ensure their customer feels valued.

Key to ISS is individualisation. Currys PC World acts as a nice example. They recently introduced a video support system called ‘ShopLive’ which links you instantly to an in-store expert via video chat. The expert has access to both your site navigation data and the relevant internal databases, meaning solutions are efficiently and effectively available at their fingertips to pass onto you.

Hermes’ ‘track my parcel’ self-service tool, on the other hand, is less impressive. ​​The bot offers tracking information but does not allow you to go beyond the most basic tasks or elevate to different systems/people.

Unlike Currys, Hermes fails to consider that the bot may not have all the answers. The result is frustrated customers who can only find out the most basic information about their package.

Leveraging tools you already have

The way in which ISS is implemented is specific to individual companies and the steps they’ve already taken towards prioritising customer experience. It’s important to join the dots between the self-service tools already being utilised.

Businesses must ask themselves, from the customer perspective, what journeys are being taken when navigating the self-service functions and, importantly, how the business can optimise these journeys to make them easier for the customer.

For instance, chat bots, virtual communities, knowledge bases and video are self- service tools that all businesses are likely to have at least one of. If automated replies don’t consider the data specific to a single customer collated from these tools, or if the dots between this data and a call centre employee or email respondent aren’t there, the business loses out on responding to their customers in a meaningful way.

What must be created is a unified umbrella system that incorporates all self-service tools and points of contact in such a way that pulls together tactical data to understand unique customer queries and provide individualised and fast responses. If we were to call ISS by a different name, perhaps it would be Digital Transformation 2.0.

A question of balance

A misconception of ISS is the idea that utilising technology means the whole self- service system can and should be automated. But in my opinion, we shouldn’t be handing it all over to technology. Yes, we want answers quickly, but sometimes it’s easier to speak to a real person, particularly when it comes to unique issues that only a human can process. ISS, I feel, is most effective when balanced with human interaction – it’s simply our nature.

What is crucial to effective CX is choice. After all, different contexts are more appropriate than others for choosing automated self-service or otherwise.

Let’s use the example of online banking. With time to kill whilst sitting on public transport, a customer may want to communicate with their bank without speaking aloud sensitive data personal to their account with fellow commuters listening in, so biometric identification becomes valuable. In the privacy of their home, however, that same customer may find the experience more convenient over a telephone conversation.

This level of choice is an important avenue for empowering the customer with an ISS approach able to seamlessly shift between automated and human interaction elements of CX ​– all whilst obtaining the relevant data for providing an efficient solution.

Add to this a customer-first view which maps out the customer journey and uses a unified system connecting all self-service tools and your business will have a seamless ISS approach to truly champion CX and enhance your brand experience.

About the Author

Rob Nash is Founder and Managing Director of 4 Roads.

Rob Nash, 4 Roads

4 Roads is a team of specialist designers, developers and social business strategists using technology to bring businesses and audiences closer. By leveraging the latest technology, including artificial intelligence, voice recognition, knowledge management and more, it creates unique virtual spaces which truly empower customers – an approach it describes as Intelligent Self Service.

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