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7 Realities of Online Self-Service That are Putting Your Business at Risk in 2012


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Forrester Research says eBusiness leaders must dramatically revitalize the self-service experience
offered on customer-facing websites in 2012, just to keep pace with evolving consumer expectations.
This white paper outlines 7 key realities of modern online service that expose the gap between customer
expectations and website performance, and how you can take steps to close that gap for your company
starting now.

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7 Realities of Online Self-Service That are Putting Your Business at Risk in 2012

  1. 1. ATTENTION eBUSINESS LEADERS: The 7 Realities of Online Self-Service that are Putting Your Business at Risk in 2012Forrester Research says eBusiness leaders must dramatically revitalize the self-service experienceoffered on customer-facing websites in 2012, just to keep pace with evolving consumer expectations.This white paper outlines 7 key realities of modern online service that expose the gap between customerexpectations and website performance, and how you can take steps to close that gap for your companystarting now. 1 Customers have grown tired of your old online help tools 51%Customer satisfaction with today’s most common web self-service features is abysmal, SATISFACTIONand continually getting worse. In 2011, only 51% of consumers who used online helpsections or FAQs for self-service were satisfied, down from 56% in 2009.As more companies rectify this by deploying next-generation self-service solutions andvirtual agents in 2012, fewer and fewer customers will tolerate antiquated self-service FAQs and Help tools satisfy onlyhelp tools online from here on in. 51% of customers 2 Customers now expect a superior experience online, not just a good oneExceptionally positive online experiences are now setting the bar for what customers expectwhen they visit virtually any website in search of answers and information. According toForrester, 70% of online consumers expect businesses to try harder to provide superioronline customer service. Good enough is no longer acceptable online. 70% of online consumers want superior online customer service 3 Consumers are impatient and protective of their timeConsumers sight “valuing my time” as the most important thing a company can do to delivera good online customer experience. Yet most web sites are complex, hard-to-navigate andfilled with content that provides multiple possible answers rather than a single, swift path toresolution. Valuing your customers’ time is“Saving time” is likely to become even more important to consumers with online interactions critical to a good online experienceincreasingly taking place in the mobile channel. Waste your customers’ time at your peril…
  2. 2. THE 7 REALITIES OF ONLINE SELF-SERVICE THAT ARE PUTTING YOUR BUSINESS AT RISK IN 2012 2 4 Customer Service has gone mobile 21%Mobile phones are now ubiquitous. Nearly 88% of US adults own them, and 21% of USadults are already considered “super connected” consumers, using their phones forinformation, research, and commerce.What’s more, digital tablet sales are predicted to outpace sales of PCs by 2015.Convenience and ease-of-use are the hallmarks of these mobile form factors, and 21% of consumers use mobile phones forwebsites that offer experiences contrary to these attributes will only raise the ire of information, research and commercetoday’s increasingly impatient and unforgiving mobile consumer. 5 Social media is increasingly embraced as 19% a customer service tool 1%Back in 2009, just 1% of consumers used Twitter for customer service. This numberjumped to 19% in 2011. Delivering a consistent service experience across multiplechannels is critical—especially today, as consumers are not shy about using social 2009 2011media sites to publically complain and vent frustration about any interactions withcompanies that fail to satisfy. In just two years, the use of social media as a customer service channel has exploded 6 Its not just your younger customers that prefer to get their answers onlineForrester cautions against assuming that it’s only younger consumers who gravitate towardonline service versus the telephone. In fact, consumers spanning the ages of 18 to 45 areroughly equally likely to prefer online channels for customer support.According to Forrester, “online customer service is imperative to appeal to the majority of Customers spanning the ages of 18 to 45today’s online shoppers,” and not just the youngest demographic. report a preference for online customer service 7 Dissatisfaction online = hijacked revenues 45%One of the most appealing benefits of delivering a positive experience in the web channelis the opportunity for organizations to provide information that supports and encouragespurchase decisions. Online, the segue from a customer service conversation to apurchase consideration conversation can be a very natural and systemic progression. Thisprogression is thwarted, however, the moment a self-service experience fails to satisfy.The impact of the self-service experience on revenues should not be underestimated. Fully 45% of consumers are likely to abandon45% of US online consumers agree with the statement “I am very likely to abandon my online purchases due to a pooronline purchase if I cannot find a quick answer to my questions.” online experienceThese seven trends underline the urgent need to revitalize the online service experience offered bymost companies. Online self-service is need of resuscitation, and useful web self-service and virtualagent technologies that can deliver this enhanced customer experience are currently underutilized.
  3. 3. THE 7 REALITIES OF ONLINE SELF-SERVICE THAT ARE PUTTING YOUR BUSINESS AT RISK IN 2012 3Where Do You Go from Here? Three Questions to Ask Yourself:What should your organization do as the very first step toward improving the online customer experience? Begin with an honest andobjective assessment of the self-service experience your website offers today. Looking at your customer-facing website, ask yourselfthese three questions...1. Is there a single, highly visible starting point for self-service activity?Today’s consumers are task-oriented when they go online. Your customers want their self-service journey to begin immediately andmove swiftly to completion. Looking at your home page or most highly-trafficked customer service page, ask yourself if the averagecustomer would be able to identify the clear starting point for any customer service-related task in a matter of seconds. Any requirednavigation or clicking through to new pages is viewed as a time-waster and is out of alignment with their expectation.2. Is issue resolution generally a multi-step, or a single-step activity?When looking for information online, customers want a single accurate answer that’s accessible in one step. Any content page thatoffers more than one alternative answer, or path to an answer, requires your customer to take additional steps for sorting, scanningcontent and/or comparing answers. On your website, do customers need to scan and click through an FAQ page, or try one or moresearch results? When results are served, is the customer presented with a single answer, or multiple results to sift through?3. How will you measure how your site is performing in this area?A quantitative assessment of your self-service performance is the first thing you’ll need to establish buy-in for any improvementto the self-service experience. The FREE Online Self-Service Assessment Tool created by Forrester and IntelliResponse is vendor-agnostic methodology you can use for scoring your site’s performance and charting a path for improvement.Is Your Online Self-Service Up to Par?Is your website’s online self-service performance putting your business at risk? FREE EVALUATION OF YOUR WEBFind out by taking the Forrester/IntelliResponse Online Self-Service Assessment Survey. SELF-SERVICE CAPABILITIES Send an email to:Book your FREE evaluation of your organization’s web self-service capabilities bysending an email to eval@intelliresponse.comSOURCES:1 “Understanding Customer Service Satisfaction To Inform Your 2012 eBusiness Strategy,” Forrester Research, Inc. January 23, 2012About IntelliResponse SystemsIntelliResponse enhances the multi-channel sales and customer service capabilities of hundreds of enterprise businessesand financial institutions. The company’s Answer Suite technology is an award-winning On Demand software platform thatallows customers and service agents to ask questions in natural language, and get one right answer - regardless of thehundreds of ways the question may be asked.With more than 500 live customer-facing implementations answering 100 million+ questions, IntelliResponse is the goldstandard in first line customer experience management. With the IntelliResponse Answer Suite, your company web site,mobile application, social media channels and agent desktop can all be transformed by an engaging virtual concierge,empowering customers to ask questions using normal, conversational language. The correct and complete answer is theninstantly served to them in a variety of engaging ways.For more information about IntelliResponse, visit To learn more about taking online self service to the next level for your customers, visit