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How to streamline self-service channels with Gartner

Four-step guide to improving the customer experience and cut costly live contacts by to 40% according to a new free guide by Gartner

Janet Brice
|Sep 25|magazine8 min read

Does Your Digital Customer Service Strategy Deliver? Is the question posed by advisory company Gartner who have created a guide to help service leaders streamline the customer experience.

The four-step guide is free to download and offers practical advice on how to create a self-service dominant function which comes at a lower cost than live contacts. In recent years, service leaders have felt pressure to provide digital service channels to keep pace with competitors. But many spend too long adding or integrating channels which are often too complex. 

The 2019 Gartner Customer Service and Support Leader Poll identified live channels such as phone, live chat and email cost an average of $8.01 per contact, while self-service channels including company-run websites and mobile apps cost about $0.10 per contact.

From 8,000 customer journeys, Gartner found 70% of customers were choosing to use self-service channels. But only 9% were able to resolve issues completely without live interaction.

According to the guide, customers who switch to even one live channel incur a cost that is 80 to 100 times more. Service leaders state nearly 20% to 40% of today’s live volume could be resolved in self-service channels.

The guide highlights how to:

• Deliver a low-effort, high-quality service with less channels

• Create a seamless customer journey

• Make the shift from a live to a self-service dominant function

The key to improving customer experience and reducing live call volume lies not in adding or updating channels, but the shift in service strategy. 

“While there will always be live service, that type of service should be treated like a precious resource and reserved for opportunities that significantly move the dial on outcomes the customers and the company care most about,” says Devin Poole, Senior Director, Advisory.

A self-service dominant strategy requires a thoughtful approach to channel offerings. No longer can channels be “bolted on” after the fact. Instead, service leaders can steer their function by considering four critical imperatives.

Four steps to creating a streamline self-service dominant function:

  1. Prioritise resolution over channel choice

Ensure dedicated leadership is allocated to self-service channels. While service leaders report self-service is a high priority, they also indicate that the majority of their resources are dedicated to live channels. Realigning those resources is a necessary step in advancing the role of self-service. 

  1. Manage self-service like a product not an IT project

Service organisations should manage these channels and capabilities like products with measurable return on investment (ROI) goals. Goals should be tied to volume reduction (utilisation and containment) and the customer experience (resolution rate, customer satisfaction).

  1. Streamline the self-service journey

Self-service channels must be designed to prevent fallout. Streamline the self-service journey to guide the customers. Channels that provide clear and actionable information, confirmation that resolution steps are underway and indications that information is credible foster a sense of confidence. This empowers customers to continue using a self-service channel rather than reaching out to a live rep.

  1. Evolve practices for self-service strategy

Aim to deliver low-effort experiences via live channels. Service leaders should manage live talent as a precious resource. Service representatives should be trained to take control of customer interactions.

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