1IR K nowled ge Se riesIs Web Self-ServiceRight for You?Published by IntelliResponse6 Tell-Tale Signs That Your Organization –And Your Customers – Are Ready For NextGeneration Web Self-Ser vice “Self-Service” –adjective of, for, or pertaining to something designed to be used or enjoyed without the aid of an attendant. “Next Generation Web Self-Service” –adjective of, for or pertaining to technology designed to allow customers and employees to receive ANSWERS to their questions over the desktop, mobile and social web, without requiring any interaction with a representative of an enterprise.
Is Web Self-Service Right for You? 2According to Forrester Research, 72% of U.S.online consumers prefer to use a company’sWeb site to get answers to their questions To help you better understandrather than contact companies via telephone whether or not youror email. Clearly, the web (and this term now organization and customersfirmly includes the increasingly important mobileand social media channels) has become the primary would benefit from deployingfirst point of contact between many organizations next generation self-service,and their stakeholders. Despite this fact, frustration we’ve pulled together ourand inefficiency abounds online, resulting in knowledge of industry bestunsatisfied customers and increases in escalations toexpensive contact center mainstays like phone calls practices and researchand e-mails. conclusions from the likes of Forrester, Jupiter Research,For many organizations, the “answer” to nextgeneration customer service includes deploying the Gartner and others, andlatest multi-channel self-service tools now available. compiled this list – sixOften described as answer agents, virtual assistants telltale signs that youror “smart FAQ’s”, this new breed of technology,when delivered effectively – has significant impact organization, and youron key business measurements such as: customers, are poised• Customer Satisfaction to benefit from next generation self-service.• Inbound Call Volumes• Inbound e-Mail Volumes• Corporate Brand IdentityBut how do you know when you and yourorganization are ready for web self-service? Wheredo you begin, in terms of diagnosing whether ornot it makes sense for you to explore a web self-service strategy for your organization?Read on to find out…
Is Web Self-Service Right for You? 3Telltale Sign #1: when the available mountains of data are drasticallyThe primary customer service features reduced after a keyword relevancy search, still,on your web site are FAQ and help pages customers are offered tens, hundreds or evenand/or a site search tool. thousands of results to search through.For companies in virtually any industry, traditional A more streamlined FAQ section, one that has beenonline answer tools like FAQ pages, HELP and heavily edited to reduce the volume of data, may beSEARCH technologies are antiquated resources slightly easier to navigate; however, what is gainedthat no longer do a good job of giving self-service in navigation ease is lost in the comprehensivenesscustomers the information they need in the form of and accuracy of available answers, leaving the visitorANSWERS to their questions. unsatisfied despite best efforts.According to Forrester, “Help sections, frequently Forrester points to self-service technologies as aasked questions (FAQs), and site search often fall means to provide better customer service, butshort of customers’ expectations.” 1 Conceptually, explains that these technologies are not yet widelyFAQ pages are a great idea and, in fact, they can used by many of the organizations that could mostbe rather helpful for very small companies or benefit by their deployment.2 By and large, mostorganizations that sell a single or simple product organizations rely on FAQ, help and site searchline or are espousing a simple concept or value to quarterback the web customer service effort,proposition – but how many organizations fall despite the negative impact on theunder those categories these days? For a company customer experience.with a web-site and numerous social media andmobile touch-points, the limitations of these The opportunity that modern web self-serviceprimitive web tools become evident quite quickly. affords is not only the ability to enhance the customer experience online, but to also enjoy aTake the typical FAQ page as an example, and competitive advantage by doing so, as a companyconsider this dilemma: that provides this superior self-service experience earlier than its competitors.Even the most well-written and comprehensiveFAQ sections remain difficult to navigate due tothe sheer volume of information that is to be siftedthrough (and this assumes that you have, by somemiracle selected the absolute best list of FAQ’s forthe majority of your customers to begin with). Even
Is Web Self-Service Right for You? 4Telltale Sign #2: operations of the call center, for example, may haveHigher-cost customer service channels like a reasonably accurate idea of what this percentagephone, email or chat are handling your low- might be. Talking to that person is a good firstcomplexity customer service questions. step and, if your company is like most, will likely reveal that far more low-complexity questions areIf your organization collects metrics on types and sneaking in to your higher cost channels thancategories of incoming service inquiries to call is desirable.centre, email and chat channels, identifying thepercentage of “low-complexity” calls that end up in If this is indeed a cause for concern, modern web-higher-cost service channels will be easy. self service is an excellent candidate to resolve the problem. As illustrated in the Customer ServiceEven if reliable metrics aren’t in place however, Complexity Continuum in Figure 1, web self-servicea director or manager close enough to the shines in resolving low-complexity calls for service. FIG 1: The Customer Service Complexity Continuum Self-Service SWEET SPOT LOW-COMPLEXITY HIGH-COMPLEXITY • No human intervention • High human intervention • Common, repeated questions • Detailed sku lookup • Questions with one right answer • Current inventory status Web self-service technology is most effective in handling low-complexity service requests.
Is Web Self-Service Right for You? 5Telltale Sign #3: deployed to answer the bulk of the “informational”A significant number of customer questions that originate online. These common,ser vice inquiries regularly originate repetitive questions can often represent betweenfrom your web site. 40% and 60% of the total questions posed to customer service.While looking at contact center metrics, identifywhat percentage of calls, for example, originate If effective, your web-site should provide customersfrom your web site. When queries that originate with timely, accurate, easy-to-access answers and,from your site are routinely entering your higher- as such, effectively pre-empt or “filter” a largecost channels, it’s a sure sign that your web site is percentage of those service inquiries. Instead, asmissing an opportunity to resolve basic customer the industry research and our own experienceservice issues at the first point of contact. indicates, most web-sites and their antiquated search and FAQ tools are terribly ineffectiveWhen a customer encounters a web site that fails to at filtering out the lower-complexity questionssatisfy his or her quest for answers, the impact on and result in many of the inquiries passing rightdownstream customer service operations is costly to through to higher-cost channels, as thisthe bottom line. visual illustrates: Fig 2: Web Site As An Ineffective Cost-Reduction “Filter” Inquiries Hit The Site Inquiries Escalate, Costs RiseWhen considering the many ways your web site can Don’t have metrics on where calls at your call centercontribute to corporate value, include its potential originate? Forrester says, “You can use a benchmarkvalue as a filter or, in other words, its ability to of an average of 10% to 20% of your phone volumereduce customer service costs. coming through your Web site.” 3Traditional web based customer service tools (i.e.web FAQ, help and site search) were originally
Is Web Self-Service Right for You? 6 TABLE 1 Downstream Cost Impact in the Call Center Channel Annual Contact Percentage of Calls Cost Per Call Total Cost of Web- Center Call Volume Originating from Web Originating Calls 1,000,000 15% $10 $1,500,000Using a conservative estimate that 15% of yourphone volume is coming directly through yourWeb site, it’s easy to see how even a smallpercentage of calls that pass through this “filter”creates considerable costs downstream:With only 15% of calls originating from the web, inthis example the downstream cost to the customerservice is $1, 500,000.Instituting an effective, next generation webself-service technology like the IntelliResponseAnswer Suite has a track record of reducingcall volume by 15-30%, which often equates tohundreds of thousands of dollars in annual savings The IntellliResponse Answer Suitefrom call deflection alone. enhances the multi-channel service capabilities of hundreds of enterpriseFor a more complete snapshot of the potential businesses and educationalcost savings available through next generation web institutions. Its patented question andself-service, go to http://www.intelliresponse.com/ answer technology delivers “One RightROI-Calculators/ Answer” to customer questions across a wide array of channels that includeThis tool will give you some real-world assumptive corporate web sites, mobile devices,data to estimate cost savings potential by using web customer service desktops and socialself-service to reduce the proportion of questions media platforms.posed to higher-cost channels.
Is Web Self-Service Right for You? 7Telltale Sign #4:Your Customer Satisfaction Scores 1. roviding consumers with advanced ways to serve PAren’t Where They Should Be themselves online, without having to interact with any member of the customer service group untilLower-than-acceptable customer satisfaction scores the time is right.are an obvious indicator that steps should be takento improve the customer experience. What some 2. ncreasing the number and quality of service Icompanies miss, however, is spotting the right path options offered to customers.to an effective solution. 3. ight-channeling, where you use your variety RResolution begins with the understanding that one of service options to help contain and drivemust look at the customer service landscape – as an interaction to most appropriate channel, whileintegrated, multi-channel system – and identify ways providing a clear and easy escalation pathto improve the system as a whole, from first point ofcontact onward. The above areas are co-related and, as ForresterIn the example described above, where a points out, these are often areas where many onlinepercentage of inquiries from the web site are and customer experience executives are tripped upescalating to the call center, it would be a mistake to in the quest to improve customer experience andassume that any significant ground could be gained reduce costs: “Too few customer service optionsby focusing on service level improvement practices often challenge business professionals’ ability towithin the call center silo exclusively. successfully right-channel...” 4Indeed, focusing resources for improvement in onechannel may actually raise scores in that channelonly, while the underlying challenges remain.With so many companies offering a sub-parexperience online, this is where the majority ofcompanies will discover the root of their problemsand, in many cases, the path to improvement. Asa result, the web is the primary location whereorganizations should look closely at resolutionpossibilities and ways to streamline the accurate,rapid and easy flow of information to thecustomer. Three major enhancement strategiesthat often result in big increases in customersatisfaction include:
Is Web Self-Service Right for You? 8 Telltale Sign #5: Your online marketing budget continues to grow year over year – as you expandCustomer to new channels such as social mediaSatisfaction Scores and mobile.Can Be Misleading Most companies are facing an increase in onlineCustomer satisfaction is often measured marketing spend year after year. Consumerat the tail end of a phone call, with the preferences to explore and purchase online,phone rep asking if the caller’s needs combined with increasing effectiveness andwere met, if the information provided ubiquity of web-based tools such as social media,was satisfactory, or some variation mobile commerce, search engine optimization,of that question. There is an inherent affiliate marketing and email marketing will onlyflaw in this collection process, in that it continue to fuel this trend. In addition, customersisolates the question to the experience are now more technology savvy than ever, turningof the phone call. In other words, toward the multi-channel, mobile and social web tocustomers who respond saying that the interact with your organization.call was satisfactory may have actuallyhad an unsatisfactory experience on the If your marketing efforts are driving more peopleweb site. (Perhaps they spent a long to your web site, Facebook fanpage, iPhonetime surfing around hunting for answers application, or Twitter feed, it stands to reasonand grew frustrated before giving up that not only should your web-site, but all of theseand phoning in.) When poor pre-call channels, be equipped to offer an optimal userexperiences are left out of the scoring, experience when customers arrive there.CSAT scores are overinflated and, as a The restaurant that is not equipped to handleresult, less reliable as a true indicator a large crowd due to physical space limitations,of satisfaction. lack of properly skilled kitchen and service staff, ultimately suffers by delivering poor customer experiences. Likewise, organizations that funnel more resources to drive customers to their online destinations but fail to deliver on the service experiences there run the risk of wasting their marketing spend and damaging reputation. One of the biggest threats to an enhanced customer experience is the use of customer information tools that fail – almost universally – to meet the needs of today’s multi-channel, self-service consumer.
Is Web Self-Service Right for You? 9Telltale Sign #6: Companies who are committed, to any reasonableCustomer ser vice and the customer degree, to increasing their focus on customerexperience are integral to the future service will like the practical accessibility of nextgrowth and dif ferentiation of generation web-self service technologies.your organization Taking time to examine the realities of yourFor organizations where customer service is a true organizational environment by looking fordifferentiator, continuous enhancement of the evidence of any of the six telltale signs explainedprocess is a non-debatable issue. Many of these here can reveal the need for action. The advantagesleading companies are already examining or are of responding to these signs now come in the formclose to implementing next generation web-self- of downstream cost reductions in your customerservice technology. service operation and enhanced customer experiences in your online channels. The latter,However, as consumers grow more skeptical, of course, can contribute greatly to your customerbecome increasingly web savvy and are faced with retention and loyalty efforts.an ever-increasing amount of options, offeringexcellent customer service online has quickly Companies who act now in response to thisbecome a baseline requirement of doing business. opportunity can also only enjoy competitiveMost companies are aware that “service” now advantage, differentiating themselves as one of thetrumps price as the number one reason why few companies who are meeting their customers’customers purchase from one company desire for effective next generation customer self-versus another. 5 service experiences on the web.For many companies, the economic realities ofserving millions of customers interrupts the bestintentions to get everyone from the CEO to thecall center agent aligned to deliver unparalleledcustomer service at every interaction.But this is where web self-service enjoys somewhatubiquitous appeal. Web self-service shines as acustomer experience-enhancing technology,because it is accessible and deployable by virtuallyevery organization, regardless of whether or not acompany is perfectly aligned in principle and inprocess, to execute with precision on the singularmission of enhanced customer service.
Is Web Self-Service Right for You? 10 For More Information For more information on cost effective ways to deploy next generation web self-service at your organization, contact us at info@intelliresponse. com, visit www.intelliresponse.com, or visit us on Twitter, Facebook, or via our new Blog. About IntelliResponse IntelliResponse enhances the multi-channel customer service capabilities of hundreds of enterprise businesses and educational institutions. The company’s patented question and answer technology delivers “One Right Answer” 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across a wide array of assisted and self-service customer interaction channels that include corporate and institutional web sites, mobile devices, customer service desktops, and social media platforms. With more than 200 live customer-facing implementations answering 60 million+ questions with One Right Answer, IntelliResponse is the gold standard in first line customer experience management. Some of the world’s most recognized corporate brands and higher education institutions trust their customer experience management needs to IntelliResponse - including ING Direct, TD Canada Trust, Charter Communications, Computer Associates, Penn State University, The Ohio State University and Harvard University Extension School. 1 2 3 4 F orrester Report Selecting Online Customer Service Channels To Satisfy Customers And Reduce Costs, June 25, 2010, by Diane Clarkson 5 Harris Interactive, Customer Experience Report, March 2006.