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Balancing Customer Self-Service Options

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Balancing Customer Self-Service Options

December 04, 2014

  By Michelle Amodio, TMCnet Contributor

Perhaps it’s a sign of the current generation, but we’re seeing a lot more self-service options when it comes to customer support. Nowadays, checkout lines at the grocery store offer a do-it-yourself registers for the savvy individual, but even in those instances, there is a store employee nearby to help with issues as they arise. Websites offer self-service options in the way of FAQs or online communities, but as it is with everything, it’s about striking a balance.

Self-service customer support is the remedy for the customer who wants help and wants it quickly. While these methods can help in terms of minimizing trained staff, nothing can quite replace human interaction. For those who are fine with doing it all themselves, self-service is a perfect solution, but in an era of getting it done fast, we cannot lose sight of doing things the traditional way.

Consumers are looking for technology to improve their experience, give feedback through technology channels, and reduce the number of times they have to call a respective agency, but the self-service option cannot possible cover all bases.

Let’s look at the self-checkout register situation again: despite the efficiency of this system, many customers prefer to have a one-on-one interaction with cashiers. Rather than dealing with a faceless machine, these customers enjoy a brief conversation with employees and the personal attention they receive. In some cases, this can result in some customers taking their business elsewhere if no traditional checkouts are provided.

Any regular user of self-service machines will be familiar with the common phrase ‘unexpected item in the bagging area’ just the mention of this to a frequent user could cause irritation. When a problem such as this occurs whilst using the machine, you are then left with the challenge of trying to obtain the attention of a member of staff.

The pros over at Team Support, while applauding self-service options for customers, note that it’s about offering a complete package. Don’t offer self-service options if they have gaps in them, and make it easy for the self-servicing individuals to do it all on their own. The gaps will only lead to more headaches for the customer and, in turn, obstacles for your staff. This means frustrated customers who are not likely to do repeat business with you.

While self-service systems free up human resources departments from doing transactional work, reduced HR staff also means less experts in certain areas. Overall it comes down to personal preference, and striking a balance. 

Edited by Alisen Downey
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