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Help Your Customers Embrace Self-Service By Offering Better Engagement

Customer service sometimes means letting customers help themselves. And, in today’s age of instant access and mobile devices, many customers – especially those classified as millenials – are starting to seek these options first before turning to the call center. But, what about the rest of your customers who may be hesitant to embrace newer self-service options over the way they are used to doing things?  How can you encourage your customers to embrace self-service in 2014?

The good news is self-service can be taught. How do these results sound?

  • Two percent improvement in customer satisfaction scores
  • $2.3 million in additional revenue value
  • 25 percent reduction in missed customer appointments
  • 94 percent customer engagement

Those are real numbers seen by an organization who embraced automated outbound communications to reach their customers – teaching them how to self-serve through voice and text-based reminders for upcoming appointments. The other biggest result that the organization saw was that as customers repeat in the system, it drives even better results. As customers learned how to use self-service, interactions with the system increased by 126 percent over the course of seven months.

Why Self-Service Works

It’s a well-known fact that companies who drive self-service for their customers on channels not requiring a live agent save tremendous amounts of money.  Once the agent is engaged with the customer, the cost of servicing that customer just quadrupled, if not more. But, the return on investment promised by self-service also comes at price.  Customers hate being forced through a series of voice prompts or pushed to a website that does not provide the necessary information to meet their needs.  This leads many customers searching for other channels or resources – such as Google, Facebook, Twitter, email or chat – or the really informed customer that just presses ‘0’ or says ‘agent’ until their call is routed to a human being. Frustration sets in and eventually, brand loyalty fades away, leaving the customer in a precarious position willing to give competitive offerings a try.

How to be Effective

Although technology offers many options to automate interactions, it must be quality automation in order to work. So how do you achieve results like the ones listed above, while giving your customers information and options that make them want to engage?  Do it Proactively by finding areas which you can inform customers of important items, engaging them BEFORE they even need to contact you. However, many companies still take a reactive stance waiting for customers to call them instead of proactively reaching out.  In fact, an interesting statistic published in July 2013 from research done by Contact Center Pipeline showed that 95.2 percent of contact centers handle inbound calls, while only 37 percent support outbound calls. That is a huge gap. Why would a company NOT want to reach out to their customers and notify them of important information pertaining to their relationship with that business?

From the results shown above, a simple reminder of an upcoming appointment deflects many inbound calls and drives better engagement with customers – and also, lowers the number of no-shows for appointments. In this case, the company also had people asking to thank to the “nice person” who reminded them when they came in for their appointment. It’s simple, but effective.

Other examples can include payment reminders, change of status in account, notices to update their account information, warranty expiration reminder, change in loan status, prescription refill reminder,  annual exam or reminders to get a flu shot. The list can go on and on. If you have a business relationship with end customers, you most likely have a reason to be proactive with your customer engagement. The added bonus? Self-service frees up your agents to work on more complex issues that truly require human intervention.

The important part is to make the communication relevant, personalized and delivered on the channel the customer prefers (voice, text, email, etc.). In turn, this will drive higher engagement rates, improve customer satisfaction, increase loyalty and, ultimately, drive down the cost of reactive customer service through the use of proactive communications.