The Biggest Benefits of Self-Service for Businesses & Customers
It’s time to do your weekly shop. You walk into Tesco’s, shopping list in hand. But, instead of grabbing a trolley and collecting everything on your list yourself, you hand the list over to the cashier. You then stand there and wait, while the cashier scurries around the store trying to find each item.
This would be awful, wouldn’t it? It would take forever; it would be inconvenient, and it would feel like an ineffective use of your time and theirs: It would be far easier to just do it yourself. Right?
Well, thanks to Clarence Saunders who opened the first ‘self-service’ store back in 1917, we can. He was the first to introduce the concept of customers serving themselves, rather than the clerk.
But nowadays, self-service is more than simply being able to shop for yourself.
What is self-service and how does it affect our lives as customers?
Thanks to the rise of technology, the ability to serve ourselves, without any input or interaction from another person, affects most of the transactions we make. From paying for petrol at the pump rather than in-store, to checking into a hotel without visiting reception, we can buy or do almost anything without speaking to a single person, if we want to.
In fact, 90% of us, now expect a self-service capability when dealing with a company. We want to find answers to questions ourselves. We want to solve problems on our own and we want to complete tasks or make transactions without any outsider input.
Research shows us that if we don’t have access to features such as FAQs, self-checkouts, chatbots and customer service portals, 59% of us would walk away and find another company that could offer these types of self-service capabilities.
Why do we like self-service as a customer?
40% of consumers prefer to use a self-service feature over having to interact with a human. Are we a bunch of anti-social creatures, or is there more to it than that?
Self-service is stress-free
Dealing with customer service reps when you have a problem can be notoriously frustrating. You can find yourself trapped on the phone in an expensive, never-ending circle: You get passed from department to department, you have to listen to mind-numbing hold music, and you have to explain your issue several times before being told how to resolve it. It can take hours, and it’s happened to all of us, I’m sure. Having the ability to solve your own problems using a chatbot or a knowledge hub means you can sort your issues out in your own time and in your own way. This takes away the stress of spending hours on the phone, repeating yourself and racking up a huge phone bill (you can probably tell that this happened to me recently).
Self-service is empowering
“Providing educational resources on what you provide is not just something your customers want, but something they need in order to feel great about their purchasing experience with your company.” – Service Target
As we know, knowledge is power. Having the ability to find information out for yourself, without having to rely on another person is empowering. With a crowded marketplace and a move towards self-service, businesses now have to be transparent with consumers about their products and services. Gone are the days where we had to rely on the knowledge of a sales or customer service rep to understand a product or service: We can now do it ourselves. Giving us access to information makes us trust a company more. It makes us feel like they understand us. That they know what we’re looking for and that they recognise what we need. This makes us believe that they have our best interests at heart, which builds trust.
“Businesses have a unique ability to give their customers more control of the service they receive, their decision making and ultimately their experience.” - Concept Kiosk
If a company doesn’t give us easy-to-access information and doesn’t explain what things are and how things work, then there are plenty more companies out there that will.
Self-service is quicker
“We are so used to instant responses that 75% of consumers experience it as the most important attribute of customer experience.” – Concept Kiosk
Studies show that customers would prefer to have quicker response times over having knowledgeable agents who are professional and efficient. They want answers to questions, they want their problems solved, they want their every need catered for, and they want it all now. The longer it takes a business to respond to a question or problem, the more likely it is that the customer will leave.
“Customers want their problems solved promptly and feel that searching for the answer themselves is quicker than contacting the company.” – Super Office
Self-service functionality such as FAQs, self-help portals, knowledge hubs and chatbots allows customers to resolve problems or find information themselves, as quickly as they want to.
Why do we like self-service as a business?
So, we know that self-service is favoured by customers which is why businesses need to provide self-service capabilities. But there's a tonne of other benefits for businesses that offer self-service opportunities.
Self-service means lower costs
It’s quite simple: If you use technology to provide your customers with self-service functionality you won’t need to employ as many staff members so your operating costs will be lower. Of course, you’ll need to make an initial investment to purchase, implement and then train your staff in your chosen self-service technology, but it is just that: An investment.
Your self-service tech will enable your customers to find answers and solve problems easily. And, as we’ve established, being able to do this makes them happy. So, with happier customers that can solve their own problems and answer their own questions, your customer service or sales reps will have more time for the bigger, proactive ROI tasks that will really drive your business forwards.
“Whilst cost savings should never be the primary driver for its implementation, self-service provision does offer the chance to reduce operating costs and drive true digitalisation and automation.” - Target Group
Take Tax Cloud, the self-service R&D tax credit portal, for example. This portal has been developed to guide people through the process of making an eligible R&D claim and help them secure the maximum amount of R&D tax relief possible. And, although the self-service portal is supported by the R&D tax experts at Myriad Associates, it costs less to operate than it does to run a full-service consultancy with full-time R&D experts.
This, therefore, means that it costs less for customers to use the self-service platform than it does for them to hire R&D experts to help them with their R&D claim.
To find out more contact Tax Cloud on 020 7360 4437 or drop them a message here.
Self-service fewer mistakes
Human error is unavoidable, and mistakes can cost your business time, money and also your reputation. And, these days, customers don’t need to put up with companies that get things wrong all the time. Self-service technology removes the need for humans, so tasks are done by machines that don’t suffer from distraction, don’t need a second pair of eyes to check something, don’t get bored and miss things and don’t procrastinate. Humans are perceptible to all these things and more, so taking the human element out of the equation means fewer mistakes. If you use technology to enable customers to serve themselves, fewer mistakes will be made, your customers will be happier, and your team will spend less time fixing errors and more time on the important stuff.
Self-service means more productive processes
Self-service technology saves time. Like we established earlier, it has the potential to lower customer related problems and queries (which take time to deal with) and free-up your staff so they can concentrate on the important, more productive tasks. For example, companies that have adopted some sort of self-service technology have seen up to a 28% reduction in support tickets and a 62% reduction in first response time. So, rather than the customer service, marketing or sales teams having to spend time responding to customer frustrations, complaints, questions or problems, they can focus on meeting the objectives that can add real value to the business.
“Your employees’ hands are freed to deal with other matters and to provide even better service themselves. This results in increased productivity which in turn will increase the service level even further.” - Target Group
Whether you’re a customer or a business, self-service technology is beneficial to everyone. It allows customers to solve their problems and find answers to their questions in their own time, with minimal stress. And it allows businesses to operate more efficiently and more productively with fewer mistakes.