3 Ways to Bridge the Self-Service Divide

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Smartphones have given consumers today more information at their fingertips than ever before and because of this, more power. Power to research products, to compare prices and features, and the power give or take their business to whomever earns their trust and loyalty. The consequence? Consumer expectations with the companies they do business with is higher than ever. In the Aspect Consumer Experience Index survey conducted earlier this year, we found that 55 percent of consumers’ expectations have increased over the past three years.

Most of the information they acquire though is rarely made through voice. They access, consume and use data gathered through non-voice channels such as texting, chatting and messaging 24/7. A recent Aspect survey data found that if privacy and security was level across all communication options, consumer text and chat usage would increase dramatically: 250% for chat, 367% for text. Are consumer-facing companies addressing this change in customer preference?digital-bridge

The idea of a ‘channel’ though is foreign to a customer. They think only of getting a question answered or an issue resolved and they want to do this on their time and on their terms, not the time and terms set by the company they are trying to engage. And more and more, those consumer terms are self-directed. They would prefer an easy and intelligent self-service approach to get resolution. The problem is that most self-service applications today are not easy and not all that bright. They are often standalone phone trees that provide limited if any interaction or one-way text/messaging applications that are unconnected to the rest of the customer service organization.

So to help bring consumers and companies closer together on this self-service divide, here are three tips to help companies adopt  a more personalized customer service platform:

  • Follow your customers’ lead: It’s not just the younger generations who are engaging on social media, messaging apps or texting. While millennials are leading the use of these channels, consumers, of other generations have been quick to follow and are starting to demand them as well. If your company isn’t ready to meet this need, there is a risk that customers will look to other alternatives and leave the current relationship without notice.
  • Offer intelligent text-based solutions: According to our recent study the vast majority (73 percent) of consumers wished there were more ways to solve customer service issues on their own. A well-architected self-service solution is fast, friendly and accurate. Interactive text response (ITR) powered by Natural Language Understanding (NLU), can create ideal channel for self-service. The technology enables rich interactions that reduce customer effort and improve the experience while lowering costs.
  • Provide continuity  experience across channels: Efficient and effective self-directed interaction frees customer service agents to focus their time on the more complex customer issues. But when a customer needs agent assistance it’s vital that they have the ability to easily reach and agent who has the context of the customer’s activity so interaction can pick up where the self-service leaves off. The result is more efficient use of everyone’s time, the customer and the agent.  With the benefit of higher agent job satisfaction by eliminating repetitive tasks and improving the customer’s experience.

Brands have the ability to give consumers the power they want which can give them the experiences they crave. And this can be done through easy-to-implement technology that delivers smart, personalized self-service interactions that are intuitive and connected for the consumer, while also highly cost-effective for the company.

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Joe Gagnon, Chief Customer Strategy Officer

Joe Gagnon is Chief Customer Strategy Officer at Aspect. For over 20 years Joe has studied the evolving relationship between companies and consumers and how content and customer interaction affects that relationship. From Penn Foster, to IBM, Exit 41 to E&Y, Joe has helped some of the most well-known companies solve their customer engagement challenges.
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