Online customer self service functionality delivers substantial upsides to EBIT.  It’s not difficult to identify and measure the business benefits of a new online self-service. It helps if agreement has been reached, in advance of launching the service, on the attribution model and benefits recognition  (using standard metrics, benchmarks and KPIs).  An obvious example would be the correlation between a particular new online self service completions and corresponding call reductions in customer service functions or through call-centres.

Since most call-management systems track calls and outcomes it is possible to correlate specific transaction types back to the equivalent equivalent transaction type (subject to accurate call logging and reporting). This means we can now put realistic business-cases together to invest in ‘customer journey optimisation’ projects and determine the ROI.

The selling of complex products such as insurance, holidays and international courier services can consume considerable  human effort through conventional channels (call-centres, retail outlets, customer services).  While these transactions are non trivial it is now becoming  common practice to create online self-service user experiences that customers will express a preference to use.

I  have  been retained by household name brands across multiple sectors to manage the design and implementation of new customer self service journeys that promote and sell more complex online insurance, holidays, domestic and international courier services and white labelled products in the leisure and financial services industries. In all cases it has been possible to track  the ROI and EBIT improvements as a result of customer self-service feature development

What’s next for customer self service:  I have been retained on strategy and innovation projects for house-hold name brands to explore and/or implement the following self self-service methods and it seems to be that very soon it will be almost impossible to tell if online chats are with an avatar or a real person:

  • Next best action:  Integration of middle tier applications that can determine the ‘next best action‘, informed by a combination of customer propensity and business priorities including campaign management and inventory availability.
  • Avatars and artificial intelligence:  Most customer queries currently dealt with through call centres  can now be resolved by AI responses. An intelligent avatar can be used to augment this experience.
  • Omni-channel customer service:  Using algorhims based on business rules, customer insight and AI to linking a service request or other user journey seamlessly from one channel to another. Channel hopping,  for example,  from onl;ine self-serve, webchat,  avatar/call-centre to retail or in-store self serve.

From a customer’s perspective, delivery of online self-service projects continue to provide the following benefits and positive experience:

  • Customers can serve themselves at a time they find most convenient (could be outside business hours)
  • No more waiting in call-centre queues necessary for most common customer queries.
  • Customer can take as long as they need to complete the transaction, with no time-pressure from an agent.
  • Mobile self-service solutions enable customers to transact in transit or from any location they choose.
  • With a mobile self service solution, the customer’s favoured brand is always available, on their mobile device.