When self-service systems don't work, customers ring the call center. Source: Shutterstock

When self-service systems don’t work, customers ring the call center. Source: Shutterstock

Digital customer service operations need to get better says Gartner

CUSTOMER loyalty and satisfaction depend not only on the purchase experience but also the after-sales support.

Digital transformation specialists often attempt to build digital, automated, self-service customer centers to reduce the load on human contact centers in a bid to enable them to focus on bigger customer problems.

However, despite the automations, customer service doesn’t seem to have improved.

According to Gartner, a mere 9 percent of customers report solving their issues completely via self-service. Which means, the remaining either get disappointed and disengage with the brand, pick up the phone and get in line to speak to a customer service representative, or look for support on email or via live chat.

The experience provided to customers in such instances might not always be the best because representatives seem to already be overloaded with work.

Further, when customers engage with a service agent, the cost of servicing the customer increases dramatically.

“The idea behind providing customers with more channels in order to give them what they ‘want’ and in an attempt to offer more choice in their service experience sounds like a great idea, but In fact, it has unintentionally made things worse for customers,” said Gartner Customer Service & Support VP Rick DeLisi.

“This approach of ‘more and better channels’ isn’t living up to the promise of reduced live call volume and is only leading to more complex and costly customer interactions to manage.

“That becomes a ‘lose-lose’ for customers and the companies that are trying to serve them.”

Gartner’s Customer Service and Support Leader poll identified that live channels such as phone, live chat and email cost an average of US$8.01 per contact, while self-service channels such as company-run websites and mobile apps cost about US$0.10 per contact.

To be fair, organizations aren’t afraid to spend some money to service a customer.

However, the reality is that in the digital age, customers prefer to have smart bots and intelligent service agents at their fingertips. Failing to provide this not only costs the company but also creates poor experiences in most cases.

Organizations, therefore, according to Gartner, must re-think their strategy when it comes to customer support and service, and work on improving their automated, digital self-service operations.

The technology is available and there are plenty of examples of companies that are getting it right. Organizations that want to really win a share of their customers’ heart along with their wallet must go the extra mile to identify and fix what’s broken in the self-service loop.