The Case for Self-Service: Your Customers Don’t Want to Talk to You


Faced with a conundrum, my son came to me the other day asking for help.  He was attempting to register for spring semester classes, but because of a missing prerequisite, he wasn’t able to register for the math class he intended to take.  Neither one of us could determine what the prerequisite was that he was missing.  He asked what he should do and I suggested he call the college and ask why he needed a prerequisite and what exactly that class was.

“Call? I don’t do that,” he told me.

He’s not alone.  In fact, soon to be released research conducted by Aspect found that only 29% of millennials prefer to talk on the phone for customer service. Our research also found that the preference of speaking to customer service over the phone has dropped 11% over the last two years, while chat has risen 9%.

It’s clear, voice alone is no longer enough. But that doesn’t mean that the prospects for contact centers are glum.

Thanks to continual innovations, self-service has moved beyond press 1 call routing to seamless interactions like Visual IVR, Facebook Messenger, automated chatbots and disposable web apps.

The technology that makes self-service easy includes text and speech recognition, fueled by natural language understanding which understands customer intent and provides the ability to answer open-ended questions, improving success rates for more sophisticated tasks. Dynamic personalization presents menu options based on likely user intent.

Imagine a scenario where my son could text a registration chatbot and ask about the prerequisite for the class he wants to take. No need for a phone call and he would get an answer on the communication channel he prefers. Or, in a Bizarro World in which he actually used his phone for an actual call and reached out to the registrar’s office IVR.  After a database check, his phone number would be cross-referenced with his student number and the system would recognize that he has classes in his cart and that registration has not been completed. Based on this information, the IVR  could present menu options related to completing registration. And in both cases, if he was unable to resolve the issue with self-service he would be connected to live assistance. Because of a solid integration, the agent knows what he is trying to accomplish, so he doesn’t have to repeat himself (much to his relief).

As Millennials and generations to come, shy away from using the call feature on their smartphones, self-service solutions can reduce the need for the voice channel while still addressing the concerns of the customer.

Learn how self-service can improve the customer experience here.