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The Statistical Case for Customer Self-Service

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From in-person kiosks to online portals, customer self-service options have exploded in popularity over the past decade. In turn, as customers have become more accustom to taking care of their needs themselves, the importance for companies to provide stellar customer self-service experiences has grown increasingly vital. However, many enterprise-level companies continue to lag behind on this front, citing RoI concerns and insufficient demand from their customer base. To encourage such organizations to take a second look at the concept, this blog aims to make the statistical case for customer self-service.

Customer Expectations Have Evolved

No one knows what your customers want and need better than your customers. This succinct truism sums up the value of customer self-service in a nutshell. For most of your customers, interacting with your staff (no matter how well-trained or hospitable they may be) will never match the speed and convenience of taking care of themselves. In a study conducted by Zendesk, two-thirds of respondents stated that they prefer self-service over speaking with company representatives. Furthermore, research by Aspect Software found that nearly three out of four consumers aim to solve customer service issues on their own over contacting human support. Gartner projects this sea change to intensify as the years go on, estimating that customers will manage 85% of their enterprise relationships without interacting with a human.

In short, while the need for customer-facing sales and support staff will never go away entirely, customer self-service has already become a consumer expectation. Failing to meet that expectation runs the risk of disappointing customers and branding a business as behind the times.

What’s at Stake

Maintaining customer satisfaction has always been of the utmost importance, and even with customer self-service, this remains true. In fact, as customers have grown accustomed to having their needs met faster and faster, their standards for self-service have increased proportionately. American Express found that 33% of Americans consider switching companies after a single negative experience with their customer service. In addition, undoing the damage of just one misstep takes twelve positive interactions according to self-proclaimed customer satisfaction specialist Ruby Newell-Legner’s “Understanding Customers.” While this behavior may seem rash upon first glance, when you consider that 76% of consumers view customer service as a “true test” of how much a company values them, these decisions begin to make more sense. By placing greater emphasis on customer self-service, companies can avoid these pitfalls and empower their customers with their preferred method of interaction.

The Benefits of Customer Self-Service

When implemented effectively, customer self-service directly benefits both the customer and the company. For example, rental car brands Alamo and Enterprise have reported that self-service kiosks have reduced check-in times by 50%. In addition to raising customer satisfaction, this efficiency improvement allows for more rentals to be processed in less time, increasing revenue. Moreover, by migrating away from call centers in favor of self-service kiosks and online portals, support costs can be dramatically reduced.

On the topic of ROI, numerous sources suggest that various self-service approaches can enhance revenue. Through their research, Econsultancy found that 86% of buyers are willing to pay a premium for exemplary customer experiences. According to American Express, consumers are willing to spend up to 17% more for excellent service. And finally, Bain & Company determined that, across all industries, increasing customer retention rates by 5% elevates company profits anywhere from 25% to 95%.

While every business ultimately has to decide whether or not to invest in self-service approaches, it’s undeniable that customer expectations have radically evolved. The need to keep customers satisfied has not. Empowering customers with more ways to purchase, request support, and more is simply one method of keeping up with an ever-changing business landscape.

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