Customer self-service tools are a proactive, cost-effective way to provide on-demand support. When integrated properly, these tools can free up agents for more efficient use of their time, and impart an optimal 24/7 brand experience for the customer. In this digital age, it’s important to distinguish the specifics of such tools. In this blog we’ll take a look at the five tools that are able to optimize CX.
What is Customer Self-Service?
Customer self-service provides customers with the ability to help themselves without having to connect to a human team member. Recent research shows that this method is so popular that 88% of consumers expect brands to now offer at least one self-service option. Self-service features allow companies to engage with customers outside of regular business hours and on the customer’s preferred channel. Examples of modern customer self-service include:
- Website downloads
- FAQ web pages
- Online forums/communities
- AI search functions
Putting Self-Service Tools to Work
Self-service tools have transformed how we do business since 1967 with the advent of the Automatic Teller Machine (ATM) in London. Still used throughout the world today, the advent of the ATM meant that customers were no longer confined to the limited hours of traditional banking, especially on weekends. The basic customer service premise of the ATM continues to inform how technology functions in order to support business.
Evolving from the initial basics of deliverable information via the ATM, knowledge base technology emerged. The key to unlocking a self-service tool’s potential is ensuring that company information is housed in a comprehensive, organized, and intuitive manner. A knowledge base allows consumers to find solutions and information as well as empowers your team members to provide well-rounded, efficient support. With 70% of consumers preferring to visit a brand website for assistance or information, employing knowledge base technology is a gateway to ensuring that your self-service tools are able to meet consumer preferences.
There are currently several cornerstones of modern self-service. Let’s take a look at the mainstays of these service tools.
- Chatbot. Utilizing stored customer data with knowledge base articles and FAQ content, the chatbot is able to answer and resolve customer issues. Additionally chatbots can deliver conversational, round-the-clock, real-time service.
- Website Downloads. Website downloads can include brand catalogs, ebooks, video tutorials, infographics, user manuals, coupons and more. High-value downloadable content is a great way to provide consumers with layers of brand information. This kind of content deepens customer engagement, heightens brand visibility, generates new customers and nurtures the customer journey from discovery to point of sale.
- FAQ Web Pages. FAQ pages not only provide answers to common questions, they can also showcase company expertise, act as a powerful SEO tool, lead to higher conversions, decrease call volume, and organize content in a way that improves site navigation.
- Online Forums. Online forums are an excellent way for a company to expand its community culture. They serve as a place to digitally connect customers while acting as a resource for tips, first-hand user experience and supplemental troubleshooting information.
- AI Search Functions. These functions help facilitate the flow of company information for both employees and customers. Query completion guides the user to the correct keywords for more efficient searching. Also, when searching for an item, this technology is able to disambiguate within the search, helping customers narrow their search while discovering additional products.
The impact of self-service tools is substantial for employees and customers alike. The ability to resolve issues and provide excellent service as a team member creates a circle of positive empowerment. Self-service tools also lower support costs, eliminate repetitive conversations, and reduce resolution time. Forrester’s recent TEI study found costs can be reduced by 88% via tools like conversation chatbots.
How AI and Automation Support the Human Touch in CX
There continues to be discussion surrounding the idea that artificial intelligence (AI) and automation will replace human beings, or at the very least, these software tools and solutions won’t impart the personalized, human experience that customers desire. However, when implemented correctly, humans and AI actually work very well together and trend towards enhancing the others’ job performance.
The collaborative use of both artificial and human intelligence enhances their complementary strengths such as: scalability, speed, social skills, and creativity. This kind of partnership allows for AI tools to provide on-demand, self-service, 24 hours a day, for continuous customer service. AI continues to learn and refine when used in conjunction with a machine learning model, and can drive a great customer experience on several fronts:
- Better Customer Understanding. The ability to gather and analyze historical, behavioral, and social data enables brands to gain a better understanding of their customers.
- Predictive Analytics. With AI’s ability to analyze large amounts of data quickly, it uses predictive analytics to generate real-time actionable insights that guide brand-customer engagement.
- Hyper-Personalization. Combining AI with real-time data enables a brand to deliver highly personalized experiences to the customer.
Thanks to these digital advances, AI is helping create a comprehensive customer service environment for consumers throughout virtual landscapes.
Proactive Solutions for a Reactive Climate
Self-service tools offer the ability to effectively scale your support team in order to meet the increased expectations of the digital consumer. Such tools can also enhance the entire brand reputation amid a demanding retail climate while increasing revenue. The confluence of human support and self-service tools enables retailers to stand apart in the deeply competitive and saturated shopping landscape.
Help your brand operate at its full potential. For more information, download our e-book, The CX Need for Speed: How Self-Service & Intelligent Automation Can Deliver on Growing Consumer Demands, and discover how to revolutionize the way your company creates quality CX.