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Self-service in the customer's experience

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Companies continue to look for the best methods for elevating the customer experience in the service they receive. It is a regular conversation amongst business leaders. As companies seek for methods to keep customer satisfaction and loyalty high, customers are showing initiative with finding service solutions themselves before contacting a business for assistance. Self-service helps customers get what they want faster.

A customer self-service business plan does not entirely focus on reducing costs and supporting call center agents. It is also about providing the customer alternatives to service their own needs, through the method of their choice.

The relevance of self service to the customer is illustrated in the following research data:

  • Avoiding lines: The majority of consumers globally (52%) prefer self-check-out stations in order to avoid waiting in line to make a purchase.
  • Price check/product availability: When researching products in the store, 43% prefer using their own mobile phone, while 57% of consumers prefer using in-store touch screens.
  • Rise of the digital mall: The majority (61%) of global consumers would be willing to shop in a completely automated store with vending machines with products and kiosk stations offering virtual customer service. And 42% of consumers would prefer to shop in these kinds of environments.
  • Automated milkman: Almost half (49%) of consumers would allow an automated engine to make purchases for replacement products automatically. This could include restocking milk in the refrigerator.
  • Budget tracking: Half of global consumers (52%) would likely purchase a device to help them stay on budget for clothing and other retail purchases.
  • Automated shopping tips: Two-thirds (65%) of global consumers are comfortable receiving retail advice based on their location through their mobile device.

Customers also want to be able to quickly and easily connect with a human being to bring fast resolution to any problem they may occur with self service. This means creating a setup with self-service in which there is always a facilitator of the transaction watching over the encounter, eager and able to help after a hint of customer dissatisfaction.

According to cmswire.com, "Looking at it from the customer's perspective, a positive self-service interaction can make them feel more engaged with the company. That may be a little counter-intuitive, because they are not actually dealing with a person with whom they can feel an emotional connection. However, when self-service goes right, the customer leaves thinking that "they" make it really easy, because "all you have to do is …" Sometimes a customer wants to talk to someone, but often all they want to do is get something paid, amended or fixed and self-service can get them there."

Two important points:

  1. By 2020, the customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human.
  2. The number of consumers preferring automated self-service has doubled to 55% in the last five years.

Self-service offers diverse benefits to both customers and businesses. While the technology is broad in the marketplace, new concepts and insights are continuing to be realized and will only continue to improve the customer experience in the long term.

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