Posted by Andrew Kokes Today, 90% of consumers check a company’s website and 57% try self-service options before calling with questions, according to Corporate Executive Board research. And it’s a trend that is on the increase. With self-service front and center as a key optimizer of customer experience (CX), attendees at HGS’s June 15 webinar, How to Launch Web Self-Service were looking to learn more about the latest self-service trends, pitfalls, and strategies for optimizing this important channel. HGS Solutions & Capabilities expert team members Lauren Kindzierski and PK Kalra described the expectation of today’s “rewired consumer" and how to use web self-service to optimize CX. Our experts shed light on current industry self-service priorities, performance, and areas of investment in the poll results:
- When asked, “What are the top priorities in your digital self-service transformation journey?,”
- 86% of attendees indicated they are early is setting their web self-service strategy noting either that they “Have not started determining strategy yet, just learning what is out there,” or that they want to “Improve online resolution, intelligent FAQs, videos, guided experiences.” Many companies have adopted static FAQs or simple self-service on various channels, but companies looking to lead with customer experience to retain valuable clients are adopting unified strategies that deploy self-service across all channels.
- When asked, “How is your self-service performing?”
- 25% of attendees were looking for guidance, as they are “unsure” about current performance.
- 58% of customer care professionals however answered “Customer experience can be improved. These results were not surprising, as very few companies today can effectively measure resolution on web self-service. Unifying the web channel as a critical first step or entry point in a unified digital CX strategy is critical to being able to reduce the effort of your customer. This reduces cost over time by increasing the percentage of inquiries that are resolved without human intervention. PK shared an illustration of how this was done for a consumer electronics business that today resolves up to 97% of issues that come to the web without pivoting to an support agent.
- When asked, “What would you like to improve in your self-service channel?” 73%— of customer care professionals answered “More channels integrated with self-service, More automation and integration, and More analytics/insights.” The majority of customer care professionals want to implement a unified strategy, leading with self-service on the web and intelligently guiding customers to the best channel of resolution, and pivoting seamlessly to live support over chat, social messaging, text, or even voice, when it adds value to the interaction. But many have not yet adopted. The reason is internal competition for time, money, and resources to drive digital change. PK talked a great deal about the importance of being able to quickly deploy asset-light, cloud-based solutions that leverage existing systems. This eliminates the need to rip and replace years of investment in CRM and channel solutions. He noted that leading brands he works with are deploying solutions in 60-90 days and having a huge impact on resolution rates, NPS increases, and cost savings.
What do these results tell us? Today’s companies are increasingly building resources and strategy to provide self-service as part of a unified strategy to optimize the customer experience. At our post-webinar QandA, Lauren and PK laid the groundwork of a good, effortless customer experience approach: Q&A session Q1: In the example you gave ‘driving 97% online resolution’, what is the time frame to set it up and deploy the program? How long does it take you to get to that optimal 97%? PK A: In most organizations, self-service—in this case, website—gets lumped in with technology products. When it comes to technology, we bring a lot of platforms together, and it becomes a capex/ opex discussion. The myth is that it is very expensive to deploy a self-service strategy. It is not. Ideally, it is about bringing a layered technology that can select information real time from multiple systems and intelligently show it to customers. It took us about 90 to 100 days to design it from scratch and deploy it. It’s not that you will start seeing results from day one by deploying analytics. The design is intelligent, but over time, you learn customers’ behavior, what is working and what is not, and we improved. That’s how we reached a 97% resolution rate. It typically takes from 60–90 days to reach a significant resolution rate. Remember that 97% is not a benchmark, and different industries have different resolution rates. Q2: Is it possible to integrate social media into your self-service strategy? Lauren A: It is possible. We have integrated social messaging into our Smart Channel Selector. The cost benefits of doing so relate to the fact that social media can be live-agent assisted or automated. You can have a bot that engages in back-and-forth dialogue with consumers to get their issue resolved. For example, a customer types “My tablet won’t turn on” in the Smart Channel Selector. Then the customer can go into social messaging through Facebook or Twitter or WhatsApp and engage in dialogue with the bot to resolve the issue. Q3: How much technology involvement is needed to implement a new web self-service program? PK A: There are two components of designing the self-service channel: one is the web design and one is integration. If the systems are legacy systems, like a black screen system, it requires a bit of involvement but not to the tune of months. It takes some weeks, and with CRMs like Salesforce and Microsoft Dynamics, in a matter of days your technology teams can help integrate with the web design. There are a lot of plug-and-play applications available, and it needs some involvement from Marketing for colors and banners. But designing, testing, and deployment requires only about two to four weeks with just one to two weeks of integration required. Q4 Do I have to start with all channels or should I optimize one channel? PK A: You don’t have to start with all channels. With analytics, you will be able to find out the most important channels and the important channels you already have. For example, if you already have voice support and a website, these are low-hanging fruit to start with. How could you add channels your users are asking for? If your customers want to chat with you through a mobile device, you can add that. If the right channel at the right time has to be deployed, the trial-and-error method is avoided.