Most businesses today agree that self-service adoption is one of their most important customer service goals. Self-service drastically cuts costs and makes it easy for customers to get the timely service they desire.
In fact, one West client now saves an estimated $5.4 million per year thanks to self-service optimizations. And another company receives 80 percent of late payments within four hours of sending a reminder thanks to self-service text messages.
Yet for customers who haven’t used these options before, self-service adoption doesn’t come easy. They prefer assisted service, but chances are they just haven’t seen the full benefit. So to get those customers to see the true benefit, you may need to rethink your strategy a bit.
Here are 21 steps to success with strategies to get your customers to love self-service. While an IVR is the most common self-service tool, these ideas work across all channels, from text messages to online portals.
1. Know your customers
Take a close look at the entire customer journey. How often do people contact you? Do they wait for you to contact them? What do they need? What channel are they using? Knowing how your customers interact gives you a massive leg up when it comes to eventual self-service adoption.
2. Choose the right channel
As mentioned before, an IVR is the most commonly used solution for self-service. But that doesn’t mean it’s your only option. After reviewing the customer journey, you should have discovered the most popular channels your customers use. Be it phone, text, online or app, build a solution where they already live.
3. Deliver what customers want
Pick out the top five to 10 reasons customers call your company. Start creating self-service options for those needs to get the most bang for your buck. You’ll not only save money on your highest volume requests — your customers will feel like you understand them, too.
4. Pick the low-hanging fruit
Also, choose items to self-serve that are easy to automate. Think about mundane or repeatable tasks, like making payments and resetting passwords. You can probably find some options in your technical support calls. With easy-to-follow instructions in the IVR, you can dramatically reduce time agents spend on technical calls.
5. Don’t overwhelm them
Conversely, don’t get your menu bogged down with endless self-service options. Try bundling similar options together (like add, remove or change a payment option) and only add solutions for services that are frequently used. If your menu gets too expansive, you’ll run into the same problem that made customers dislike your IVR in the first place.
6. Create a human experience
Create a customer experience within the IVR that matches or exceeds your assisted experience by giving your solution a voice and personality. Customers look for convenience and ways to save time. For now, they think talking to an agent is the best option, but when they can get the same, quick, humanesque service without waiting on hold, they’ll be much more likely to use you self-service tool.
7. Speak your customer’s language
Both literally and figuratively. Customers struggle with self-service adoption because they don’t understand the menu options. Obviously, it’s important to use their native tongue, but your solution must also use “customer speak” rather than “company speak.” With voice or text, support as many utterances and responses as possible.
8. Integrate your technology
Don’t let your communication systems live in silos. Instead, enhance your IVR with data from your back-end systems. Everything you know about each individual customers should be available the moment the conversation begins. That way your customer can skip the getting-to-know-you part of the call and jump right into the problem.
9. Blend your channels
Ensure that all communication channels, including IVR, web, social media and mobile create one seamless customer experience. Make sure your agents know when and how each customer last got in touch with you. That way, a customer’s entire experience is seamless, and they know using a self-service option today won’t detract from an agent-assisted conversation if they need to call again tomorrow.
10. Mirror on the web
Once you’ve optimized your self-service solutions, transfer the same functionality to the web. You’ll likely need to update both your online communication tools and the script on your company website. Your IVR, text conversations and web presence should all have the same brand voice. That way, you can comfort customers with consistent messaging in every channel.
11. Don’t forget design
Poor design has clear repercussions for mobile or web solutions, as customers feel less comfortable using a site that looks outdated or hard to use. But design is also an important part of your voice solutions. Create a structure that’s easy to navigate and swiftly moves customers to the next logical step.
12. Let customers reach an agent
No matter how good your self-service is, some customers need human assistance. Provide an easy route to agent-assisted service, progress timeouts and invalid entries to agent transfers. A rule of thumb: if customers fail twice with self-service, send them to an agent. The same rule applies for customers who do not enter anything.
13. Promote new self-service offerings
It may seem obvious, but your customers can’t use self-service if they don’t know about it. Customers who have used self-service before may adopt quickly. But for others, it may take a while. Still, promotion is important across the board. So take a strategic, consistent approach geared toward long-term self-service adoption.
14. Use your opening message
When your IVR, chatbot or other tool starts a conversation, open with a brief message about self-service. At this point, your customers may plan on reaching an agent as soon as possible. Keep it short, but craft a message that explains the self-service opportunity that could save them time.
15. Give a second chance on hold
If someone doesn’t accept the offer right away, don’t give up. Mention the self-service option while a customer is waiting on hold. They may change their mind after waiting a few minutes. But don’t be too pushy. Play the message only once on a short queue and no more than twice on a long one.
16. Have agents remind them
You can also promote the message even after the task is complete. After providing service, ask agents to promote self-service next time. Now it’s not just a machine trying to get them to use automation. There’s now a human person who has heard their specific situation and can give an expert opinion.
17. Consider special events
Depending on your industry, you may have short-term offers for special events, like selling tickets for an upcoming concert. Special events draw in large numbers of customer requests at a single time, so feel free to dedicate a new self-service option. Just remove the function when the event concludes.
18. Measure self-service metrics
Determine the metrics you care about most. Design and build reporting metrics for every voice prompt, every time out, every hang up and every invalid response from your IVR or two-way text messages. These reports show you instantly if customers don’t understand how to effectively use automation to fulfill their needs.
19. Audit as you go
Self-service adoption is an ongoing process. Regularly review automated interactions and provide alternatives if needed. Or find new, popular customer requests and add new automation options altogether. The more automation you can support, the more you can save.
20. Ask the right questions
Along with your metrics, identify key questions you want to answer each month. Questions like, “How many customers used self-service vs. an agent?” Or “How many time outs were logged in each self-service option?” Secondly, consider asking questions to your customers in a survey. They can give an honest assessment of the experience you’ve created.
21. Be patient
If self-service adoption isn’t as high at first as you’d like, don’t panic. This is a long-term process. Consistently monitor your solutions and find trends or changes in behavior. A new self-service IVR will take 30 to 90 days to soak in for customers, especially if it’s not frequently used. You took the time to choose the right self-service options. So be wise when making changes.
Getting Help with Self-Service Adoption
Follow these steps to get customers excited about self-service adoption. But if this all seems like a lot work, you don’t have to go it alone. Communication technology providers like West take a look at your entire customer experience ecosystem. That includes self-service.
To discuss some of our IVR, text messaging and other self-service solutions, call or text one of one of our experts at 800.841.900. Or check out this blog post about how you can create exceptional customer experiences for the self-service generation.
With a consistent focus on these 21 strategies, self-service adoption is possible in any industry, as are the reduced costs and better experience that come along with it.