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Many companies are turning to self-service to provide a better customer experience at a lower cost. In fact, a report by Customer Contact Week Digital found that 91% of organizations identify web self-service as a relevant investment focus. 

Companies believe self-service has the ability to reduce call center costs and relieve pressure on customer service agents, but is every self-service attempt successful? We’ve asked industry leaders to weigh in on the importance of self-services and how brands can overcome some common self-service mistakes.

Why is Self Service Essential?

Self-service brings numerous benefits to organizations, which is why most companies now see these capabilities as essential. Here are a few reasons the experts believe self-service is a must.

Speed & Convenience

Jen Snell, Vice President of Product Strategy & Marketing for Melville, N.Y.-based Verint believes today’s customers want to solve their problems by themselves because it’s often faster and more convenient. “Companies that offer self-service are not only respecting these customer preferences,” she explained, “but they’re empowering customers to get the answers they’re looking for as quickly and efficiently as possible.” Self service allows customers to interact with the brand on their own terms rather than wait for customer service representatives. This is critical for Millennials, who often prefer using text-based solutions rather than human interactions.

Higher Productivity

“Self-service increases productivity on all ends,” stated Paddy Rathinam, Chief Customer Officer at San Mateo, C.A.-based Freshworks. Empowering customers to handle small tasks frees up customer service agents to focus on more complex tasks that require human reasoning. “Increasingly, bots are being used to efficiently handle [simple] interactions,” he explained, “and retrieve data and history at speeds much faster than any human.” Moreover, Rathinam believes that from the customer service leader’s perspective, the best customer service is no service at all.

Improved Bottom Line

“More importantly for companies,” Snell stated, “self-service actually has a measurable impact on the bottom line.” Automated chatbots and other innovative technologies enable companies to scale their customer service at a much lower cost. Beyond the cost-savings, however, intelligent assistants can cross-sell or up-sell to generate even more revenue. “That revenue would never have been realized,” Snell explained, “had the company sidelined self-service as a ‘nice to have’ instead of a ‘need to have.’”

Related Article: What Happens When Customer Support Works From Home?

The Most Common Self Service Mistakes

While many brands are adopting self-service capabilities, there are often some problems with the solutions they’re implementing. Here are the experts’ tips for overcoming self-service mistakes.

Not Offering Human Interactions

Rathinam believes a common mistake companies make is failing to give customers a clear option for connecting with a human agent. “Nothing makes a customer angrier than the perception that it’s impossible to connect with a real human when required,” he said.” He likens this to automated phone support systems of the past, which frustrated many customers and led to poor customer experiences.

Not Providing Additional Value

“The mistake a lot of companies are still making is that instead of listening and paying attention to the questions their customers are actually asking,” Snell said, “they’re trying to get them to ask the questions the companies want them to.” Brands are approaching self-service as an automated FAQ rather than providing additional value and strengthening the customer relationship. In the end, self-service options only work if customers get what they want out of them, so companies need to ensure their solution goes above and beyond what a human agent provides.

Not Thinking Bigger

Rathinam says that companies need to think bigger when it comes to self-service solutions. “Self-service bots can efficiently and effectively resolve questions using decision trees,” he explained, “and also automate common processes such as order tracking, status, refunds, return labels, view my invoice, etc.” But it’s crucial that companies test the solutions thoroughly and regularly adapt to customer feedback, because these solutions have much more at stake.

Not Leveraging Data

Many companies also fail to leverage customer data effectively, but it’s the best way to understand what customers really want. “By collecting data in a way that makes sense and is geared towards concrete business outcomes,” Snell suggested, “companies can adjust their customer service stacks to better serve their audience.” Not only can data and AI improve the self-service experience, but give the organization a competitive advantage from a product development and strategy perspective as well.

“Companies can begin to change this approach to self-service by adopting a customer-centric, data-first approach to their solutions,” Snell concluded. If organizations think bigger and leverage modern technologies, both customers and companies can reap the benefits of these self-service solutions.