Give Your Customers Their Independence and Earn Their Loyalty in Return

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sparklerWe live in an always-on, hyper-connected world where consumers want it all. They want you to cater to their preferences, expect personalized service and believe you should make doing business with your company absolutely effortless. Customers have become incredibly demanding, right? Yes… and no.

While consumers today have high expectations for service, they also increasingly prefer to find answers, make a purchase or complete a transaction on their own – without you. They want their independence.

Aspect conducted research with The Center for Generational Kinetics and found that nearly 3 out of 4 people prefer to solve their customer service issues on their own. (TWEET THIS) If you find this hard to believe, think about it for a minute. Armed with smartphones, we have nearly instant access to FAQs, product reviews and peer communities. We no longer have to listen to hold music, wait until the hours of 8am to 5pm for help, or talk to someone who doesn’t have the information or tools they need to efficiently solve our issues. We can do it ourselves. We can be independent. But only if you let us.

The truth is that a growing portion of the population may not be dependent on you, but they are dependent on technology. In a Pew Research Center survey, nearly half of smartphone owners described their mobile devices as something “they couldn’t live without.” In a recent blog post, Evan Dobkin talks about these tech dependent consumers, especially Millennials who have grown up with wifi, mobile phones and Google Search. This dependence on technology, the speed at which we are growing accustomed to receiving information and our interactions with smart machines is shaping (and for some of us changing) our expectations for service. (TWEET THIS)

As business leaders, we have an enormous opportunity to evolve our thinking and put more control in the hands of our customers. We have the ability and the technology to design smart, personalized self-service experiences that fit into the their lives. Why wouldn’t we want to do that? Here are three reasons why you should:

  • Be where your customers are. It’s not just the Millennials who are connecting on social media, downloading apps or texting. While Millennials are leading the demand for these channels, consumers of other generations are quick to catch on and demand them as well. If your company isn’t ready to meet this demand, you risk losing business to a company that is.
  • Improve service while lowering costs. A well-architected self-service solution is fast, friendly and accurate. It’s no longer characterized by rigid menus (think “Press 1 for sales”), but rather conversational and personalized interactions (“What would you like to do today?”). It’s also not limited to voice. In fact, powered by natural language understanding, text is an ideal channel for self-service. The technology enables rich experiences that reduce customer effort and improve the experience while lowering costs. And according to the Aspect study, the vast majority (70 percent) of consumers would rather text than talk.
  • Enable experience continuity and maximize the value of your agents. Good self-service frees agents to focus their time on the more complex customer issues. When customers can’t solve a problem on their own, it’s critical to hand them over to an agent who has the context and the tools needed to help – without asking them to repeat information they may have just entered in an IVR, a mobile app or a text interaction. The result is more efficient use of expensive agent resource, higher job satisfaction through the elimination of repetitive tasks and improved customer experiences.

There was a time when self-service was regarded as the “back up” when nobody was available to help us. The service option when a company knew their customers couldn’t or wouldn’t leave them. Today, power has shifted – from companies holding all the information to self-reliant, connected and independent-minded consumers. Is self-service a strategic initiative in your company? If not, what opportunities are you missing? Learn more about what’s possible today.