IR Knowl E dgE S ERIESWeb Self-Service:The Cornerstone of Multi-ChannelCustomer Experience ManagementA Blueprint for EnhancingMulti-Channel EngagementIn today’s highly competitive economic climate,there is no margin for error when it comes toattracting and retaining customers.Businesses must now offer more channelsof communication, more customer options,and faster responses than ever before.
Web Self-Service: 1The Cornerstone of Multi-Channel Customer Experience ManagementA Blueprint for Enhancing Multi-Channel EngagementThis knowledge paper examines and exploresthe key elements that will allow organizationsof all types to continue to evolve theirapproach to addressing the questions andconcerns of an evolving and increasinglyweb-centric customer base. Perhaps now morethan ever, one of the best ways to differentiate The Web as the Lynchpin of a Multi-Channelyour organization in the competitive landscape is Customer Experiencethrough exceptional customer service, beginning To say that the web has become an importantwith your online properties, and extending out to tool for customer interaction would be moreinclude assisted channels, mobile and new media as than just a “minor” understatement. According topart of a next generation, multi-channel approach recent market studies, over 90% of all consumerto managing the customer experience. purchasing decisions begin onlinei and 83% of consumers indicate that their primary source forWhether the journey begins on a smartphone, non-technical service information is company webvia a new social media channel, directly on your sites.ii Figure 1 below itemizes the top reasons whycorporate web site, or via a direct call to your customers are leaving web sites – four of the topcontact center, best practices demand speed, five reasons for abandoning a site relate toconsistency and a truly uniformed approach to “couldn’t find information”!managing customer interaction. Figure 1 Why Visitors Leave Sites Prematurely - Poor Site Design and Service Flaws I was convinced the info I sought wasn’t available on the site 28% I just didn’t care to look on the site anymore 28% I had difficulty navigating the web site 27% I couldn’t find contact info for the appropriate person(s) at the company 20% There was just too much content for me to review, just to find what I was looking for 19% I was interrupted by some one/thing unrelated to the web site 16% I have never left a site without first finding the information I was seeking 13% I couldn’t reach a customer service representative over email/text chat to answer my question 12% The number of site search results I found were too overwhelming 11% I wanted to visit the web site of another company 10% other 2% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Percentage of Site Visitors Source: Jupiter Research, 2008
Web Self-Service: 2The Cornerstone of Multi-Channel Customer Experience ManagementA Blueprint for Enhancing Multi-Channel Engagement While the web may be usurping their place as the universal first point of customer contact, • Over 90% of all consumer agents remain on the front lines of the battle for customer acquisition, satisfaction and loyalty. 85% purchasing decisions begin of respondents in a recent study from Purdue online University indicated that consumers formulate their opinion of a company and its brand by the • 83% of customers use contact center and the agent. company web sites for And so, the untold costs of an uninformed contact service info center are expansive. In this same study from Purdue, 63% of consumers said that they would • 4 out of top 5 reasons for become disloyal because of a bad experience with a abandoning a site relate to contact center agent.iv “Couldn’t Find Information” “Just Good Business Practice” For most businesses, increasing customer satisfaction both online and through the contact center isChances are your customers would prefer to find just good business. Not only do such solutionsthe answers to their questions online – the most and strategies promote a seamless, multi-channelcost effective communication medium – without experience for the customer, they also provide theever having to engage in long conversations with business with the ability to improve both overallyour customer service staff. loyalty and bottom line savings by moving customers to the most cost effective service channel.Forrester Research notes in a 2009 customerservice report that “customers want nothing more Increasingly, company web sites of all types arethan to faithfully purchase from a company that having a substantive impact on the overall successdelights them time after time” and that “customer of the entire organization. Businesses can andservice (i.e. the contact center and eService) should strive to differentiate themselves on serviceprovides the most direct and influential contact that, more often than not, involves the web at somewith customers.”iii And with the web site factoring point during any sales or service engagement, andso critically as the likely first point of contact – effectively create a “closed loop” information cyclethis highlights the importance of addressing your that covers both assisted and self-service channelsweb properties within the overall multi-channel that may or may not be online. Overall, it remainscustomer experience. critical that the experience be productive and be in line with customer expectations.What Role do Contact Centers Play? Satisfied customers are more profitable, moreIn this competitive market, customer attrition loyal, and more likely to engage in positive wordis not only due to the increasing usage of the of mouth, and if they increase their use of the webInternet to shop for products and services and site for informational and transactional service,access information. Another significant factor of cost savings increase through the value of right-customer loss can be attributed to poor contact channeling. Figures 2 and 3 (next page) illustratecenter customer service. In most cases, a sub-par the positive correlation that exists across a wideexperience at the contact center can be directly spectrum of industries between good customerattributed to one of two major issues: experience and purchasing behavior and customer loyalty.i. Cumbersome technology resulting in frustration (for both the customer and agent)ii. An inability on the part of the agent to provide concise, accurate information to customer queries
Web Self-Service: 3The Cornerstone of Multi-Channel Customer Experience ManagementA Blueprint for Enhancing Multi-Channel Engagement Figure 2 Consumers with Good Experiences Consider Purchasing More Correlation between high customer experience index and willingness to buy another purchase from provider Banks 0.72 Cell phone service providers 0.69 TV service providers 0.68 Internet service providers 0.67 Insurance firms 0.67 Credit card providers 0.67 Retailers 0.66 Investment firms 0.64 Medical insurance providers 0.61 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 degree of correlation: low Medium High Figure 3 Consumers with Good Experiences Don’t Switch Providers Correlation between high customer experience index and reluctance to switch business away from provider Banks 0.5 Credit card providers 0.48 Cell phone service providers 0.47 Insurance firms 0.46 TV service providers 0.46 Internet service providers 0.46 Retailers 0.41 Investment firms 0.34 Medical insurance providers 0.31 0 0.2 0.4 0.6 0.8 1.0 degree of correlation: low Medium High Source: North American Technographics Customer Experience Online Survey, 2007
Web Self-Service: 4The Cornerstone of Multi-Channel Customer Experience ManagementA Blueprint for Enhancing Multi-Channel EngagementWith Opportunity comes Challenge: online, the Status Quothe Multi-Channel RealityThe picture is not all rosy however. As more does not Sufficeand more transactions, sales and serviceinteractions continue to involve the Internet, your Damaging Effects of POOR SITE DESIGNorganization’s opportunity to influence customer Although the online growth trends for businessesperceptions about brand, net promoter score, continue to trend upward, and multi-channelloyalty and advocacy increasingly begins online. customer experience has taken on a new meaningThe new reality now demands that organizations in recent years, many web sites are not designedof all types provide rapid, concise information to with a clear customer focused approach and as acustomers across a variety of self-service and assisted result struggle with navigational elements, layout,channels, and this can be a daunting mandate. content that reads as collateral, site depth and complexity, static FAQ’s, and the ubiquitous siteBusinesses need to embrace online customer search that returns numerous links. In addition,experience management, and adopt new and many businesses offer a ‘disjointed’ customerinnovative ways to manage the customer experience experience across assisted and self-serve channels,in the emerging multi-channel environment. with information flow in the contact center oftenWith the web as a new channel, businesses will lacking continuity to web interaction.be able to gain new insight into customer value.They will be able to leverage this information by A recent Jupiter Consulting survey revealed thattapping into the unique insights that are sometimes 54% of consumers visiting a web site came lookingonly available via online interactions. This type for product and/or service information. Once onof web to multi-channel customer experience the site, a third of customers had a difficult timestrategy is now readily found in many high touch finding the information they were looking for, andcustomer markets, including financial services, the top three reasons that customers leave sitestelecommunications and utilities. early are directly linked to poor site design and service flaws (see Figure 4 next page). Site Search and FAQ’s Prove Inadequate Many businesses are not able Most corporate search platforms often do little to help the situation. Approximately 63% of to provide a truly consistent consumers continue to be frustrated with web experience across multiple site search because it cannot understand the real question and 57% believe search results are not channels during any given related to their specific topic of interest.v As most inquiry process. of us know from experience, web site users who utilize search often have to hunt and peck through large numbers of possible links to find answers buried somewhere in the detailed content ofThat said, many company web sites are not search results.designed using a customer centric process and asa consequence users cannot find relevant content Static FAQ systems, the other pervasive alternative,and information quickly. In addition, many only deal with a subset of questions and requirebusinesses are not able to provide a truly consistent visitors to “find a question”. Many self-serviceexperience across multiple channels during any solutions today lack relevance, speed and accuracy.given inquiry process. For example, providing Research indicates that approximately 47% ofcustomers with the ability to seamlessly transition customers are looking for a faster navigation pathbetween online and offline (self-service and assisted and 33% want a tool to provide a single accuratechannels) is often non-existent. The resulting response or advanced FAQ (see Figure 5 next page).frustration causes consumers to either leave and goto a competitor’s web site or re-connect in a moreexpensive channel – such as email, phone or inperson for example.
Web Self-Service: 5The Cornerstone of Multi-Channel Customer Experience ManagementA Blueprint for Enhancing Multi-Channel Engagement Figure 4 Site Visitor Frustration Can Lead to Devastating Results: Lost Sales and/or Tarnished Brands leave the website and go to a competitive website 45% Be less likely to visit the site again 45% Be less likely to buy from them online 40% leave the website and give up 24% Contact customer service via e-mail 24% Site visitors are more likely to opt for Have a more negative overall perception of the company 21% an alternative site Contact customer service via phone regarding my experience 18% than bother to contact Be less likely to buy from them offline 18% customer service. Tell others about my negative experience 16% I have never been dissatisfied 4%Question: If you find yourself dissatisfied with your ability to find the 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%necessary information you sought when first arriving on a website or aspecific product/service page, which of the following are you likely to do? Percentage of Site Visitors(Select all that apply) Select responses shown. Figure 5 Effective Navigation Tools Resonate with Site Visitors Ability to easily navigate from home page and find what I seek 47% The ability to send an e-mail to customer service 36% Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) web page 33% Question box that enables you to enter a question and get a single, accurate answer 33% Search tool that offers a list of search results 30% Text-based online chat 13% Call back option, where I enter my information 47% of customers are and phone number and customer service calls me back 13% looking for a faster navigation path A link to information About US that is easily found 12% and 33% want a tool none of these would be helpful 8% to provide a single The ability to make a phone call to the company via my PC, cllicking a accurate response or button and talking through my computer’s microphone (VoIP) 5% advanced FAQ. other 2% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Percentage of Site Visitors Source: Jupiter Research (6/2008)
Web Self-Service: 6The Cornerstone of Multi-Channel Customer Experience ManagementA Blueprint for Enhancing Multi-Channel EngagementYour Customers are Goal Oriented 3. ASK: Relates to customers seeking assistance toCustomers come to interact with your business web correct or rectify a customer service problem – oftensites and service agents armed with a goal in mind, caused by a failure to meet customer needs andand usually they have a specific context associated expectations in the DO and BUY categories.to their visit or inquiry. We can group these key Example: ASK (Goal Oriented) - a customer hasobjectives into three major categories: DO, BUY a dispute with the timing of a bill paymentor ASK. The definition and an example of each of made online. A customer may have thethese three categories are as follows: following ways of asking the same question:1. DO: Involves the desire to perform a task that leads • Can I report a bill payment problem online?to the customer engaging in an assisted or self-service • How do I report a bill payment issue?transaction online or started online and concluded in • How do I correct a billing error?another channel. • What action should I take to correct a Example: DO (Goal Oriented) – when a customer payment problem online? wants to expand their cable service coverage with a provider. During this process a customer The DO, BUY and ASK goal categories help us may have a simple question which can be understand that there is a solid link between phrased in numerous different ways: customer intention and customer action, often in the form of a question or search • How do I expand my cable service coverage to for information. More importantly we learn cover Internet? that while there is often only one common • Can I also get Internet service through you? destination or piece of information that will • Do you provide Internet service plans? allow customers to achieve their goal, they • Who do I contact to extend my service often travel down a number of disparate coverage? paths to get there.2. BUY: Involves any task related to the intendedand/or final purchase of a product or service – thismay start and conclude online or in anotherchannel, and often requires multiple channels tocomplete the process. Example: BUY (Goal Oriented) – when a customer wants to purchase travel insurance for an upcoming vacation outside the country. During this process the customer may have a question which can be stated in many ways, for example: • How do I purchase travel insurance? • Can I purchase insurance for travel? • What do I need to buy travel insurance? • Where can I buy travel insurance?
Web Self-Service: 7The Cornerstone of Multi-Channel Customer Experience ManagementA Blueprint for Enhancing Multi-Channel EngagementThe ExpandingInteraction EcosystemAssisted and Self-Service Figure 6There is a lot of confusion surrounding the key Customer Interaction Ecosystemchannels and interaction points that can mosteffectively influence the customer experience. Self-Service Assisted ServiceFor many businesses, both the web and the contactcenter must now deploy a variety of strategies and Internet Contact Centertechnologies in order to service their multi-channel • Search • Agentscustomer base. Defining the key elements of an • Contact Us / Ask Us • Emaileffective customer interaction ecosystem will help • FAQ • Click-to-chat • Virtual Assistant • Click-to-talkbring some clarity to the situation. • Instant Answers Cross • Collaborative browsing • Help Channel • Lead GenerationMost customer interaction platforms (see Figure 6) • Web Content • Call Center Platformrequire the capability to manage customer queries • Databases • Enterprise Platform • Secure site • CRM Platformacross two primary sub-categories: • Applications, Tools • Virtual Assistant and Calculators • Instant Answers1. Assisted Service – Assisted service providesor enables human interaction with customers viaphone or face-to-face interaction as well as the IntranetInternet (email, chat or click-to-call). This type • Searchof service is generally best suited to the sort of • Ask Uscomplex, multi-faceted interaction that can • FAQ • Virtual Assistant Supportbest be executed by trained customer • Instant Answersinteraction personnel. • Help • Content2. Self-Service – Self-service solutions offer • Databasessupport via electronic means and allow customersto access information quickly, or perform simpletransactions, often over the Internet. Self-servicesolutions can include status quo offerings such as sitesearch or FAQ’s, or next generation solutions suchas virtual assistants or instant answer agents.Part of the role of self-service is to transition qualifiedsales and service leads to the most appropriateassisted-service channels. It is worth noting thatemployees and call center agents also have self-serviceneeds that function within the contact center,branch platforms or Intranet.
Web Self-Service: 8The Cornerstone of Multi-Channel Customer Experience ManagementA Blueprint for Enhancing Multi-Channel EngagementThe Right Channel –The Right TimeCustomers want the option to be able to transition The Road toward Next Generationeasily from self-service to human assistance (via email, Customer Experience Capabilitiesclick-to-chat, click-to-call, etc.) to get help and advice Today’s leading businesses with multi-channelfor more complex products, services and transactions. customer service structures should deploy bothIdeally, this should and can be accomplished in a the technology and the customer engagementsingle session with no loss of context or information. processes to allow them to:For the business’ service channel management, thegoal is seamless cross-channel information delivery. • Identify the customer goalFor the customers, this translates into a positive Actively and intelligently determine thecustomer experience. customer goal by engaging them online (increasingly regarded as the seminal first point of customer interaction) A positive cross-channel • Equip the customer with access to quick, experience can substantially consistent informationn Provide customers with an effective solution increase First Contact so that they may self-serve Resolution rates • Connect the customer to service channels Provide a natural and consistent cross-channel escalation at the correct point in time relativeA positive cross-channel experience increases to the product or service complexitythe ability to achieve first contact resolution.Understanding early stage web activity, customer • Provide consistent answersqueries or online information requests can allow Offer consistent information and overallbusinesses to segment customers and move those experience throughout the interaction,identified as key prospective customers to a across multiple touch-points and interactionseamless cross-channel experience to complete platforms, including emerging channels suchthe sales or service interaction that much quicker. as mobile text messaging and new social media channels such as Twitter and FacebookMulti-channel businesses must address theircustomers’ needs as they progress through theirjourney towards achieving their goals. Best practicesdemand that businesses be equipped to manage thecustomer experience via the preferred channel ofthe customer – whether it’s online via self-service,online via assisted service, or offline through aphone or in person.For some businesses, this process can be hindered bysilos of informational hierarchies – with marketingowning the web site, contact center owning manyof the customer interactions and with neithercommunicating effectively with the other. Or, silosmay exist with technology systems – each group hasall the information but getting the information out tothe customer is the roadblock.
Web Self-Service: 9The Cornerstone of Multi-Channel Customer Experience ManagementA Blueprint for Enhancing Multi-Channel Engagement6 Things You Can do now1. Add Intelligent Self-Service Options 4. Test and Test Again!If you haven’t already, look towards adding “Test” your new technologies and processes withintelligent self-service options such as a virtual customers directly to confirm that they are “valued”assistant to your web site or mobile platform. by the customers that use them.These technologies are quickly becoming a keycomponent of the multi-channel customer 5. Right-Channelingexperience, and provide a number of strong Make sure you are channeling customers into thebenefits, including: right information funnel through intelligent • Making it easy and convenient for customers escalation. For example, it may make more sense to get the right answer to many of their to push certain inquiries to self-service, while questions the first time, thereby increasing “triaging” high value or high issue customers to first contact resolution assisted channels. • Allowing customers to type their question and get an immediate answer, with a high degree 6. Make Your Phone # Accessible of accuracy The phone is not obsolete. Some customers will come to your web site with the sole purpose of • Allowing service agents to access the same finding a phone number they can use to contact knowledge base and capabilities above you with – make sure that number is available • Lowering your cost of interaction by to them. For example, large businesses with many reducing call and email volume, increasing divisions should create self-service answers for contact center efficiency and improving the customers seeking a phone number. A question effectiveness of online channels like “How do I contact your help line in New York?” • Improving key metrics such as net promoter could provide the number for the New York contact (CEI/CSI) score, brand and customer loyalty – center rather than the global support line or the while reducing re-connect costs and increasing number for head office. sales/transactions2. Overcome Silos of Information BottlenecksStrive to overcome silos of information “bottlenecks”so that information about the customer and statusof their inquiry is shared across different channels.For example, a call center operator should notneed to ask the same questions that have alreadybeen answered online.3. Include Customer Feedback (VoC Program)Incorporate customer feedback opportunitiesat each touch point, including online and viaassisted channels. Ensure that your web site’sself-service answers improve and build over timeto become the self-service channel of choice formore users. Not only is self-service importantfor customer service improvement, but tappinginto self-service analytics as a keystone for avoice-of-the-customer (VoC) program allowsfor continuous improvement of the customerexperience based on customer feedback.