In any interaction, allowing another person to take the initiative and choose the terms of communication tends to empower them and enhance their experience. This is the main reason why customer self-service is so popular nowadays, as well as the main reason why it adds so much to the value of your brand. Aside from this, it is quite potent as a tool of reducing your company’s overhead, providing significant time-efficiency as well as allowing your customers to solve some of their issues on their own. Here are some examples.
1. Lower overhead costs
The greatest advantage of customer self-service is probably the fact that the self-checkout devices provide a much lower overhead than actual cashiers or operators. Sure, acquiring these machines is not cheap, yet, over the course of time, they are bound to save you a small fortune. Apart from not having to pay salaries to these devices (although you do have to invest in an overhead). Moreover, with these devices, or software systems you don’t have to worry about benefits, paid leaves, sick days, aside from this, you don’t have to pay them extra to work on Sundays and holidays. In other words, there are layers and layers of frugality, which keep adding up.
2. Wait time is reduced
This particular issue can also be approached from two different angles. First of all, self-checkouts are significantly faster than traditional methods, however, even if this weren’t the case, this kind of delay is approached differently. For instance, in a live retail store, if a cashier in your employ is slow or even just perceived as slow, the blame would fall on you as an employer. On the other hand, with a self-checkout terminal, the blame falls on the individual in the front, which, in no way responds negatively to your brand.
Of course, this isn’t to tell that you can actually be 100 percent blameless. On the one hand, some people are going to blame you no matter what you do. Also, if the check-out system is complicated or consists of more steps than deemed necessary, you also might take the blame. Finally, if the device is slow to respond or your website shows high latency, once again, you will be blamed for the delay, however, this is quite reasonable seeing as how you would also be at fault. In other words, all that self-service helps you with is avoid majority unjust accusations against your efficiency.
3. FAQ as the predecessor
Roots of self-service lead all the way to the notion of the FAQ. Instead of having a 24/7 available operator, online companies created a list of all the most frequently asked questions and offered answers to them in a clear and direct form. This, A) helped customers verbalize their questions better and B) allowed them to help themselves in a much quicker and more direct form. Sure, in the past, having a form of self-service was optional, yet, in 2018 it is completely mandatory. In fact, it is expected by as much as 70 percent of all your customers. Failing to deliver on this front may, therefore, lead to a massive disappointment.
4. Step-by-step tutorials and screenshots
Even in the digital environment, people are often reluctant or ashamed to ask questions for fear of appearing silly. Just take a look at most common Google searches, in person, most people would never have the courage to ask some of these questions. On the other hand, when it comes to self-service, there is no such fear, which gives them more courage to experiment.
In order to avoid this confusion or shame-inducted reluctance to communicate, you need to make your instructions as detailed and visual as possible. It is scientifically proven that human brain registers visual information 60,000 times quicker than a verbal one, which is why you should heavily rely on screenshots and video tutorials.
5. Constantly updating your content
Another important issue to pay attention to is that it is easy to forget about self-service once you set it up. After all, the point of self-service is that it should reduce your effort and investment, so why should constantly obsess about it. On the other hand, if you leave an outdated information out there, you might be accused of misleading or misinforming your audience, both of which are bad business practices. In order to avoid this from becoming a serious problem, you need to update your content, especially FAQ, as soon as there is the slightest change.
6. Mobile-friendly self-service
Finally, you need to keep in mind that most people online are mobile users, which is why all your efforts need to become mobile-friendly. One of the ways to do so is to add a voice-search function to your search engine, although, this might be quite demanding from a technical standpoint. Apart from this, the filter system and the search box both need to become touch friendly. With these two tips alone, your self-service will become much more tempting.
7. Boost in customer recommendations
At the end of the day, providing a high-quality self-service might, on its own, be enough to earn some word of mouth (WOM) recommendations. Online, customers might have much easier time leaving positive comments and reviews. In other words, customer recommendations become an even more formidable share of the market, which can become a driving force to push your brand forward. Aside from this, a lower overhead and increased business capacities that come with self-service also provide you with an infrastructure to handle this increased workload. Overall, a boost in customer recommendations that comes from this upwards spiral is a boost to your operations, in general.
At the end of the day, there is no discussion on whether you should have self-service or not. In e-commerce and other forms of online business, it is a completely mandatory feature. In fact, it is getting so popular (due to its amazing cost-efficiency and efficiency in general) that it is quickly finding its way to nearly every niche of offline business, as well. Overall, customer self-service is the way of the future and the better you manage to utilize it, the more benefits will it bring to your business.
About the Author
Aside from primary area of interest and expertise in business consulting with Nirmal, Ian Pearson could be tagged also as a passionate sports fan, nature and photography enthusiast, always trying to keep up to date with tech innovations and development.