How to deliver ROI from your digital self-service

We all have heard about the unprecedented digital transformation that was accelerated by the recent pandemic. Consumers turned to shopping online and suddenly online retail became hugely competitive, forcing retailers to adopt the latest and greatest technology to stay ahead.

However, it wasn’t only retail that was affected. As a result of consumers’ experiences with the retail sector their expectations for ALL customer service took a leap, and suddenly every organisation was left playing catch-up.

What people learned to look for is instant self-service (via Artificial Intelligence/AI and chatbots) and rapid escalation. Salesforce found that business customers had the highest expectation of improved digital delivery at 80%, compared to a still high 65% for consumers.

Customers want help finding information or solving problems, fast. FAQs won’t cut it anymore – don’t try and make your customers work for it: they simply don’t think they should have to.

As long as your self-service is well-designed and implemented, and your customers can achieve what they want without escalation, your business will gain its ROI. However, getting self-service wrong is expensive. As well as negating all your investment in your self-service implementation, it adds cost to your service delivery by creating unnecessary escalations. Plus, and this is critical, it creates an additional level of frustration for customers. If your self-service isn’t usable one of two things will happen:

  • Customers will abandon their attempt to self-serve, and use another channel to reach a live person – inflating your interaction volumes, your costs AND the customer’s frustration


  • They will look elsewhere.

So how do you ensure your self-service has what it takes? How do you overcome all the common obstacles, and deliver the winning formula that makes your investment truly worthwhile?

The four key deliverables for self-service

In this blog we’ll explore the primary challenges that organisations face when they deliver self-service, the areas you must get right in order to keep your customers happy.

1.    Understand the primary objective

To get self-service right, you need to treat cost saving as a side bonus, not the imperative – otherwise you will end up making the wrong decisions, for the wrong reasons. Look at your customers first. What are they seeking? For example, for customer service sites the number one function for self-service may be providing information to users – while for retail websites the primary function is to facilitate the purchase.

  • If it’s for information, the knowledge you are offering must be both current and accessible
  • If it’s for purchase, the journey must be rigorously mapped out and tested, tested, tested

Your bots must be trained to ‘understand’ what the customer is asking for – however they ask – and to provide what the customer needs.

You must also ensure that the data provided is 100% up-to-date and accurate. Encourage every relevant member of your business to ‘own’ the customer. They should all understand the imperative of providing information to keep this database valid. When an answer is incorrect, at best it can be frustrating – but at worst it could cause revenue loss or liability.

2.    Make sure it is accessible

A critical component of your implementation process is the design. There is no point having an excellent understanding of your customers’ objective or a fantastic knowledge repository if your customers still can’t get to what they want! A user-centred design may seem an obvious approach, but you might be surprised at how many organisations focus on building a design around their own objectives. Don’t be that provider! Instead, invest time in understanding and then testing each step of the journey your customers will take. For knowledge sharing, ensure that your bot can identify the kernel question each time, no matter how it is phrased or spelled. Examine the input regularly so that you can expand the bot’s understanding of the various formats, identifying and fixing issues that obstruct the self-service delivery.

3.    Beware Bot Jail!

While we have all the evidence to show that customers do want self-service, it is very important that you don’t lock customers into a dead-end they can’t escape from. Make sure that a get-out-of-jail-free card (“speak to a live person” option) is always available for times when self-service doesn’t give them what they need. Sometimes it’s a more complex query, sometimes it’s a language issue, sometimes it’s a demographic that doesn’t take to digital so well. And of course, sometimes it might be a gap in your self-service that you need to plug with a live person until you fix it. Even if escalations do add cost, frustrating your customers is a higher cost in the long run, so incorporate other channels into your customer journey to provide alternative avenues of engagement. And of course, whenever a self-service interaction is escalated to another channel, it’s imperative that all the information the customer has previously entered in this engagement is passed through to the contact centre and to the agent who handles the customer after transfer.

4.    Build improvement into the permanent process

Improvement is not simply a phase of implantation. Since your goods and services evolve, so will the needs of your customers. Expect, from the beginning, that improvement is a critical ongoing piece of your service delivery.

Look at these effective ways of building improvement into your self-service offering:

  • Enabling customers to provide feedback is a fantastic way of improving your knowledge base and offering. This feedback is true Voice of the Customer, treat it with the priority it deserves, and (in amongst the inevitable non-productive commentary) you will be rewarded with gold nuggets: insights into gaps in all areas of the business, not just your database or your bot.
  • Another avenue of feedback is from your agents. When are escalations happening? Is there a gap in your self-service or knowledge base that needs to be addressed? Alternatively, is there a clear area of complexity that you can now invest more resource in, since your self-service is handling the more tedious, routine enquiries? Use wrap codes to capture the information you need to understand calls who escalate from or simply evade self-service.
  • Analyse your data carefully and aim to improve the value that your self-service delivers to your customers. Showing them that you respect and value their time will strengthen your relationship.

If your self-service has what it takes, you will surely see an improvement in your service delivery. Find out more about how to ensure happy customers, more engaged agents and cost-effective engagement from our new eBook “Ultimate Guide to AI-Enabled Contact Centre”.

Download Enghouse’s Ultimate Guide to AI-Enabled Contact Centre

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