Semi-Self-Service Redefines Customer Engagement 

Digital self-service experiences are incredibly valuable tools to enhance customer satisfaction, reduce time to resolution, and lower costs.

They enable companies to split off straightforward customer needs that can be resolved without assistance from those that require agent focus, expertise, and empathy.

Every company should have a digital self-service strategy. It’s what consumers want. But can we do more to leverage digital technology to enhance the customer experience? I’m convinced we can. One approach gaining traction is semi-self-service, a strategy that leverages digital technology to empower customers to use the time before and during a contact center engagement more productively. Here are three examples:

Before an engagement: You can use digital technology to invite customers to provide their basic information and explain their issues while they wait in the call queue. When they connect with a live person, that agent will have all the customer’s information ready, and can immediately focus on the problem at hand.

During an engagement: In many cases, it’s easier for customers to enter information into a form than to repeat it ad nauseam to agents trying (and sometimes failing) to transcribe it. By giving your agents simple digital experiences they can send to customers during calls, you can empower them to accelerate resolution. Even better is when the agent can send the customer a digital aid, and then do a screen share to coach the customer through the process.

Instead of an engagement: There is no reason that semi-self-service can’t result in complete call diversion. You can send the caller a visual IVR experience that enables them to start addressing the problem immediately while maintaining their position in the queue. If the digital tool is straightforward and well-designed, it may resolve the issue without requiring agent intervention.

Integrating semi-self-service solutions into a CX ecosystem brings many benefits, from better customer experience and satisfaction to reduced support costs and a better agent experience. Let’s examine each of these.

Customer benefits

Semi-self-service offers customers the convenience and flexibility to accelerate their service interactions through digital. Semi-self-service can be delivered via traditional voice response, chatbot, or visual IVR experiences that streamline data collection. Whatever the delivery form, semi-self-service drives faster outcomes, improves the odds of first-call resolution, and makes both customers and agents feel more empowered. All of those things increase customer satisfaction.

Company benefits

Semi-self-service can reduce costs by reducing or eliminating the need for human involvement. Customers can often solve all or parts of their questions independently. For example, they might start a digital experience and find they can navigate the entire process without assistance. In other cases, they may be able to get some questions answered so they can focus their agent conversation on fewer needs. Even if the caller doesn’t get answers from a semi-self-service experience, pre-collected information can be supplied to the agent so that the agent won’t need to “start from scratch” with basic questions.

Time is money in a call center. Shaving the average call by even a minute or two drives enormous savings over time. More importantly: Faster and more thorough resolution makes customers more satisfied and less likely to churn.

Agent benefits

Your customer service agents have tough jobs. Every day, they deal with dozens of people who begin the interaction unhappy and frustrated. Spending time collecting basic data from callers can raise their dissatisfaction and anger.

And let’s face it: That part of their work is also boring. Great customer service people love solving actual customer issues, and thereby turning unhappy callers into satisfied customers. Asking agents to repeatedly collect names and account numbers takes time away from the work they enjoy. That boredom, combined with the stress of angry callers and high call volumes, contributes to dissatisfaction and employee attrition. Customer service teams know that some boring and stressful times are inevitable. Still, if technology can help reduce the incidence and severity of those issues, you’ll have a happier and more engaged team.

It’s hard to go wrong with an approach that simultaneously pleases customers, saves money, and empowers agents to improve. As your company considers how to raise its digital game in the months ahead, semi-self-service deserves your consideration.

About the Author

Dr. Ori Faran is cofounder and CEO of Callvu.