Transforming “self-service” with mobile technology

Customers expect the ability to deal with their suppliers 24/7, and improvements in self-service technology are upping the game in this arena.

Whether it’s a bank, a utility company, a retailer – the always-on economy has raised expectations, so ideas of constant communication and ordering on-the-go are a given.

So much so that self-service technology was top of the tech trends list for Forrester last year. People are already well acquainted with using their smartphones and talking to virtual agents (or chatbots); going forward, customer service “will become more ubiquitous, via speech interfaces, devices with embedded knowledge, and wearables for service technicians”.

So – mobile has changed the way customers see self-service, and more companies will use apps to deliver on their high expectations.

But these apps need to be helpful – solutions that offer account management, solve billing issues, provide usage tracking and security features like alerts and detection, all score highly.

Providing mobile platforms like these doesn’t mean you’re interacting with your customers any less – each platform will allow you to interact with a different sector of your audience, extending your service to where they feel most comfortable.

And this is typically what businesses have always done. Historically, they’ve always added “more” to their service.

Why choose self-service technology?

Traditionally, a company will hire more people to staff more call centres and more support centres. They’ll deal with an ever-growing list of questions and issues – all this provides better customer service for a growing business.

The thing is, most of these questions and issues could be self-serviced – if the customer had the tools at their disposal. From simple additions like password resets and meter reading inputs, to delivery tracking.

But how much further can this go? Automate it completely.

If you can agree that the vast majority of your incoming calls focus on the same topic, why not use technology to allow customer support staff more time to deal with more complex problems?

What tech can companies make use of today?

If you want self-service technology that still drives engagement, our four suggestions are:

  • Mobile Apps – If your customers expect an always-online connection, in this format, deliver it. The most successful self-serviced apps tend to be account-based, like the My Argos Card app; people can easily understand their history, perform management tasks through their smartphone, even make payments, all while on-the-go.
  • Voice Apps – Build on the current growth of Alexa and Cortana to provide exceptional user experiences. Voice apps allow you to reflect brand values in the tone of Alexa’s voice, and you can split the user experience between voice and screen-based actions, depending on customer preferences.
  • Chat Bots – These have been around for a while, but advances in technology are increasing their sophistication. Pre-load them with FAQs using AI and frameworks, and solve the most basic business questions while providing an almost instantaneous response to queries.
  • Data Analytics – Understand your numbers, figure out what your data means. That work will reveal which areas will lead to the most returns – then you know where to focus your efforts.

Using these tools, businesses can speed up service, manage their team more efficiently, provide better customer support, and ultimately, fuel their future growth.