Typically, customer service refers to employees helping customers.
But with the increasing amount of available personal data and the evolution of technology, customer service is rapidly evolving into a new model, ultimately allowing customers to help themselves. What does this mean for the customer experience (CX)?
Technology allows personalization that eliminates blanket communication and generic offers and focuses on what is relevant for the individual customer. Factor in the transition from paper to digital smart forms for electronic data capture, and suddenly there is a new platform of personalized capabilities. For the customer, with newly found access to their own information at any time, calling or emailing a CSR to assist is simply unnecessary. Guess who your new best customer service representative is? You!
If self-service sounds cumbersome, think again. We’re in the digital age, which means a lot of the process is automated and you don’t have to do any research. Quite the contrary; the work has been done for you on the back end. All that’s required is for you to follow digital prompts, and these smart forms go to work.
For example, say your teenager reaches driving age, a milestone you have simultaneously anticipated and dreaded. Rather than spend hours calling various companies, to be put on hold and told that your child falls into the most expensive group to insure, you can go online and gain the insurance quotes yourself. With specific information about coverage, type of vehicle, and personal information about your child, you can submit a request and receive a policy quote the same day. Compare that to the usual stack of confusing paperwork, peppered with unnecessary general questions, plus the requisite waiting period to process your application. You would have had to complete this task during regular business hours, and there might have been some errors, causing you to resubmit the form and increasing the response time.
Let’s say a few months go by. Your young driver is following the rules of the road, but manages to get into a fender bender in a crowded mall parking lot. Not a bad one, but something that will require a vehicle repair. That means filing a claim, which you would want to do as soon as possible. The accident occurred on a Saturday afternoon outside of regular business hours, and you really don’t want to wait until Monday morning. No problem. You can file claim, upload a photo, and even receive advice on where to go for repairs – all on your own time schedule. That’s a much better option than having to wait through the weekend, only to be placed on hold for a time-consuming paper document exchange.
The self-help model offers many other fringe benefits that enhance CX beyond the data transparency and 24/7 access. Because there is no representative to contact, there is less room for employee error, which could cause customer dissatisfaction, and put a big dent in the CX.
If you’ve ever wished you could just “do it yourself,” you can. Self-help in the digital age is driving personalized CX, customer satisfaction, and customer retention.