Customer service has always been about people helping people and usually it is considered to be that face-to-face interaction that accomplishes the goal of providing for the customer’s needs. A recent report now shows that more people prefer self-service opportunities over that of a real live assistant--but only if the service option is simple and accurate.
Obviously, a self-service system can save a company time and money, which assists in keeping costs down for everyone. But even so, companies still must keep multiple options available for their customer base. While the world is much more tech-savvy than it was a decade ago, there is still a large demographic who may not be as up with the times. However, that number is steadily shrinking, and if companies work hard to make their service options easier and more accurate, more customers will opt to go that route.
Coleman Parkes is the analyst firm that conducted the 2012 survey questioning 2,900 smartphone users between the ages of 18-40 in the U.S., U.K., Asia Pacific and Central and Latin America. The co-founder of the organization, Ian Parkes said, “We are seeing a major shift in customer behavior. Consumers prefer to seek answers to common questions through online resources. However, many end users believe service providers’ online services cannot solve their problems, so they gravitate back to the call center. There is a clear opportunity for service providers to take control of the experience and to reduce costs.”
I am one of those people that would prefer a real person most of the time, because it allows for a dialog that can often answer questions more specifically and accurately--of course with less work on my behalf. I have used online help quite often though, but when it comes to being asked to search a community of users or to bounce all around a knowledgebase system for an answer, I tend to steer clear and seek other options like online chatting or speaking to a live person.
I could, though, see myself falling into step with the 91% of those surveyed by Nuance Enterprises that stated they would use a knowledge base if it quickly and properly met their needs. I tend to find these types of self-service options to be daunting to weed through to find the desired answer. However, if a company strives to make self-service as quick and simple as possible, it would most likely garner additional use, even from me, and save costs in the end. Even though about 40% of those 91% reported still ending up contacting a call center for further assistance, that still shows that a greater majority are satisfied by the self-service, and that translates to a greatly reduced call center volume.
The plain truth is that these types of reports are showing an ever growing number of people are using, expecting, and preferring online self-help services, and companies are noticing. Hopefully all businesses are taking note of this trend, and adjusting their business practices to take advantage of it by making things even more easily accessible and user-friendly.
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