The Best Customer Service is No Customer Service…Sort of.

customer serviceAsk anyone in business what the most important aspect of running a business is and you’ll get a lot of different answers. Many of those answers though, will be customer service related. We’ve all been raised to believe that the customer is always right. Superior customer service is what will help separate your organization from the competition, right?

Well, not exactly. Not anymore, at least.

Whatever you call the process a customer takes to make a purchase (buyer journey, customer experience, etc) one thing is clear: it’s evolving because of technology. This isn’t just about customer service reps getting new computers, either. This is about how the amount of information a customer can consume about a product grows every day. There was once a time when a company or salesperson held the information a customer needed to make a choice. This made selling much easier from the perspective of the company.

Now, a customer can obtain virtually everything they need to know about your product or service before they ever make it into your store or to your website. They come armed with knowledge.

Most organizations understand this and have adapted. They’ve implemented marketing and sales strategies that are based on this new reality.

But what about customer service? How is it changing?

Customers, themselves, will tell you that they prefer self-service. 67% of customers want to be able to resolve issues by themselves, according to a survey by Nuance. In an Amdocs Survey, 40% of respondents said that they tried resolve an issue themselves before calling customer service. Here’s the problem: you’re not going to change that 40% of people who try to resolve issues themselves. People are going to do what they are most comfortable with. 67% want to be able to, and my guess is the reason they don’t is because self-service has fallen short in the past.

Isn’t customer service about giving the people what they want, when they want it?

Self-service, implemented correctly, reconnects the pre-customer and post-customer experiences.  What does this mean, organizationally? Well, it means your IT department is now a part of customer experience. Yes, the information out there needs to be compiled by marketing or a product team. And yes, customer service reps will still exist, regardless of how good your self-service program becomes.

IT fits in more than ever though, in that it’s up to them to ensure that this program works and can be implemented seamlessly.

If you have a customer that’s troubleshooting a service, it is up to IT to make sure that the proper information is accessible and presented in a way that customers want to consume it. Engineering a visually appealing and easy-to-use portal is essential. But a simple google search can show you hundreds of blogs listing common “do’s and don’ts” of setting up a self-service portal for your customers. We’re not going to dive deep into that, we know the information is available to you.

The point of emphasis we’d like to make is making sure you understand how this is going to affect your IT department.

Now, if you currently have a robust IT department with ample assets and sizable budget, you’re probably not worried about customer service evolving into technology based department. Not all organizations are as fortunate, though. Taking on hundreds, thousands, or more monthly self-service “transactions” means developing a way to handle those transactions. Avoiding downtime becomes more than simply avoiding periods of time where customers can’t purchase something on your site. Now it’s a matter of customer satisfaction and retention. If a customer can’t troubleshoot something because the information that they’re looking for isn’t available, this leads to the increased likelihood that that customer will start looking for a new solution. After all, they researched your solution once, it’s easy to see how calling customer support might not be next on their list at this moment.

Take AI into consideration, as well. 71% of consumers would prefer a virtual assistant over static Web pages when it comes to self-service, according to the Nuance survey. AI has exploded in the past few years, in large part due to the amount of IoT devices becoming smarter and more popular.

We exist in a hyper-connected world, and that’s not going to change. IT departments in all companies need to stay ahead of the curve now, especially that customer satisfaction is on the line.  

Taking on an ITaaS partner may be the best course of action for your organization. Doing so will allow you to scale your self-service programs quickly, as well as support them as they grow. This can be done with relatively low up-front costs and provides you with experts to monitor these new programs in order to ensure that they’re up and running when your customers need them.

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