Delivering great customer service nowadays involves giving customers more options. While some may prefer to seek support or information by speaking directly to a live agent, many people prefer to search on their own. Self-service can pose a challenge for customer service: on one hand, it can frustrate customers and turn them away if the channels on which customers search are not optimized and time-consuming; on the other hand, the experience can be preferred when customers are able to find answers more efficiently. Automation also reduces costs for contact centers, shifting expenses to more critical tasks and increasing live agent productivity. So how can contact centers empower customers with excellent self-service and ultimately strengthen their brand?Optimize for mobile. Mobile devices—especially smartphones—have become increasingly standard, so customer service needs to be tailored to this growing demand. The IDC reports that this year, there will be more people accessing the web using a mobile device than a wireless computer, while eMarketer states that nearly five billion people worldwide are now using smartphones. Nuance further reports that 72% of consumers have a more positive view of a company if it provides a mobile customer service app, while Synthetix found that 75% of consumers believe companies should make answers to all common questions readily available through smartphones. These statistics translate into a high consumer demand for mobile-optimized apps with self-service features. IVR, or interactive voice response, as well as visual IVR (with visual menus) are excellent ways to offer automation to customers that will save them time and frustration. Click-to-chat features also enable customers to connect with customer service agents rapidly, while buttons with easy access to order tracking and confirmation, shopping carts, and frequently asked questions are all ideal ways to enable self-service for customers on the go.Take a proactive approach. By staying one step ahead of the customer and anticipating customers’ needs ahead of time, self-service can become a truly welcome experience for the busy customer. For example, monitoring customers’ behavior on a company website to see which content is of interest to the customer and how much time is being spent on each page can be combined with previously gained customer history (such as purchasing habits) and prompt an invitation to chat. Companies may also offer video tutorials if the customer is looking at a frequently asked questions page—another excellent tool for self-service.Train agents to help customers with self-service. Self-service doesn’t mean abandoning customers or letting them doing all the work. Indeed, it’s highly likely that customers may need agent assistance at some point during a self-service interaction. For this reason, agents need to be ready to help customers finish the process. Agents also need to be ready to jump in and train customers in navigating self-service options to better ensure that self-service will remain a preferred option the next time the customer needs support.Update your channels, and get feedback. Self-service channels need to be regularly updated to reflect any company updates such as new products or services, recalls, sales, and other pertinent information the customer should know. In addition, it’s always important to know how your customers feel about the experience. Just as you might send out a survey after a service call, it’s meaningful to get feedback about self-service customer experience to constantly work to make it better.Self-service is an excellent way to optimize the customer experience while empowering customers with the information and service they need when they want it. With the right strategies, companies may cut costs, improve their brand image, and give customers a great experience that may lead to greater customer loyalty. To learn more about contact center software solutions optimized for self-service, please visit www.vocalcom.com.
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