Self-service – How to balance cost-to-serve and efficiency?
In the early days of start-ups, organisations rightfully focus on their product, product market fit and product channel fit. Often times, cost-to-serve is not an indicator the team are necessarily focussed on. However, if neglected and the cost to serve customers turns out to be higher than expected and eventually exceeds the ability to monetize the customers, start-ups can find themselves losing an uphill battle.
Initially, it’s all about making early adopters fall in love with not only the product but the entire experience. The small team of support advisors, and indeed the rest of the organisation, throw everything they can at retaining their first customers. Customers at this stage likely find support in the form of voice calling, chat or email.
Introducing Self Service
Over time, as the customer base grows, as demand increases and inbound queries begin to pile up, start-ups should start to consider implementing self-service channels that not only reduce their cost to serve but offer faster resolutions for customers. Customers can and should be able to solve their own problems without help from a support agent. They don’t always want to get in touch or wait on a response. They want to find the answer, understand the action they need to take and act on resolving the issue themselves.
Self-service can be delivered through a variety of support platforms, such as:
- FAQ Page
- Knowledge base or help centre content
- Community forum
- Mobile app
- AI-powered chat and messaging
- Automated call centre
Not all platforms suit every business and a start-ups should carefully consider their brand, tone of voice and the type of customer they serve.
What to focus on
When offering self-service support, it’s important to keep an eye on the data; adoption rates, abandonment rates, customer satisfaction, to name a few.
If customers aren’t adopting the self-service platforms provided, organisations need to find out why. There is a difference between a customer initiating contact in a channel and successfully completing the transactions. An attempt to carry out a task online that results in failure and a phone call to a contact centre could easily be counting in reporting as a 50% digital contact but in fact, it’s 0% right first time contact and 100% wasted resource.
Therefore, it’s not only about 1) making the choice to offer self-service platforms, 2) implementation and 3) monitoring; From the outset, the focus has to be on designing great solutions that customers want to adopt and in the process deliver the channel shift that actually drives down cost as a by-product of great service.
Getting this right requires a comprehensive range of capabilities, tackling everything from customer education and influencing customer choices to designing high quality experiences and providing multi-channel support. Few organisations have all the capabilities needed for a comprehensive effort to tear down digital barriers. Many will attempt to use a single tool or capability, not understanding that they are missing the more significant underlying causes and therefore at best the impact on overall channel usage is mild.
We’ve identified eight different areas of opportunity that should be analysed and addressed by organisations when implementing self-service with the ultimate goal of reducing cost-to-serve whilst offering a world-class customer experience.
- User-focused design
- End-to-end journey
- Customer communication and education
- Choice architecture
- Support in the channel
- Tackling the major blockages
- Process improvement
- Journey analytics & customer feedback
Design is at the heart of every industry disrupting product so it should come as no surprise that design is crucial to introducing self-serve customer support and enhancing the experience for customers to find the information they need when they want it. Building solutions that incorporate multiple elements from different providers, while ensuring those elements are complementary rather than conflicting, and finding a way to align the objectives and commercial goals of the different actors, is the final secret to self-service success.
The ideal design results in customers using self-service not because are encouraged to do so, or because they are given no other choice, but simply because they know it to be the fastest and easiest way to achieve the outcome they need.
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The Nest by Webhelp helps its clients deliver best-in-class customer experiences and solve their most complex customer journey challenges.
From process design to team transformation, we bring insight and passion to address some of the most complex organizational challenges. We leverage our experience with multiple clients in all industries and leverage our tools and data analytics teams to better understand your customers’ needs, transform their journey, reduce cost-to-serve or develop innovative new models.