Consumers, argues Steven Van Bellegham, author of the Conversation Manager, are becoming more demanding. In a global survey conducted alongside data supplier SSI, Van Bellegham found that customers wanted a company to manage their interactions with speed, friendliness and transparency.
The most crucial element of the research, which involved 2,750 consumers from Brazil, France, China and the UK, though was that users wanted their issue dealt with in one step.
He writes that the old rule, “if we react [to a customer] in 24 hour hours, we are doing an amazing job,” is officially history.
The rise of self-service is testament to the growing expectation customers have. In 2014, 70 per cent of customers thought a company website should include a self-service application. Nearly half of shoppers prefer the option too, with 40 per cent choosing self-service over human contact.
But these rising expectations are not limited to complaints and issues. Van Bellengham’s survey highlighted the importance of self-service in each stage of the customer buying cycle, with 56 per cent of individuals choosing the option in the pre-purchasing stage.
Indeed, the benefits of self-service go well beyond meeting these expectations. A successful implementation not only impacts expenditure, with less call centre staff needed to field customer enquiries, but can also result in more efficient marketing communications and increased sales. Indeed, 81 per cent of shoppers are quite happy to provide companies with access to their personal data if it helps cut waiting times. From a customer retention perspective, 48 per cent would be keen to receive personalised offers based on previous interactions with organisations.
There is an obvious demand for these self-service features. But, while self-service isn’t a new concept (Globally, there were 92,600 in-store self-checkout units in 2008) many businesses have found it challenging to implement the changes customers want.
Still, there are a growing number of companies looking to implement self-service options across their organisation. The latest example came last month as the Post Office announced it would begin to implement code-operated lockers for online shoppers, following similar moves by Asda, Argos and Waitrose.
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