BT Technology Journal - Archive

Commemorating 25 years of publication

Self-service - but is it good to talk?

T Alcock and N Millard

Drives to increase the volume of customers who use self-service channels are a common strategic goal. The promise of significant cost reduction is a tempting carrot. Couple this with the vision of customers benefiting from quick, effective and usable contact channels, avoiding human error (except perhaps their own!) or potential frustration at being passed around to an appropriate´ contact centre advisor is a very worthy vision ... but is it as simple as this? In this discussion paper the authors speculate that self-service, while potentially being a revenue-saving opportunity, could also erode customer satisfaction and loyalty. Self-service doubtless appeals to some customers, but is it what all customers want? Do organisations understand enough about customer experience to enable them to build successful self-service channels, i.e. those that are useful, usable and used by customers? Do businesses really want to lose the opportunity to actually talk to customers and gain insight and knowledge about them? What impact will increased levels of self-service have on more traditional channels, such as customer contact centres? This paper also discusses evidence that self-service can actually serve to increase communication between organisations and customers across multiple channels. For many organisations, the Internet has actually resulted in more calls to the contact centre, not less. The seductive promise of self-service to cut costs through reducing call volumes may be an empty one.

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