How Self-service Tools Affect CRM
As technology continues to progress, customers are following suit and are more educated and savvy in terms of the technology they utilize. For this reason, many customers seek and prefer self-service options. While the enthusiasm for technology is great for business, how does this do-it-yourself (DIY) approach affect customer relationships and loyalty?
I think self-service options can be great for your customers and for business. Clients always appreciate having choices, especially when an alternative meets or exceeds the performance of a fully-managed selection.
If your company is considering adding a self-service tool to its portfolio, it must meet the following criteria in order to sustain successful client relationships:
- Easy-to-use – The self-service product must be a tool that users find simple to use. If customers have difficulty with navigation or access, they are more likely to switch providers all together than revert back to a fully-managed option. Therefore, don’t introduce a self-service tool to customers until you are confident that it is user-friendly.
- Cost effective – If customers will be operating with less support, they will be expecting this decrease in customer service to be reflected in the cost. Since cost savings is one of the main factors for companies to switch to self-service, ensure that customers receive some type of price reduction or incentive to drive self-service adoption and maintain customer loyalty.
- Consistent user experience – In conjunction with the product being easy-to-use, it must uphold the same user experience as the fully customer supported platform. Like the cost reduction incentive, there must be a reason to choose self-service so increased convenience, satisfaction and a consistent (if not better) user experience is required. If customers feel like they are missing components of the fully-managed option, you will certainly lose credibility with your clients.
- Customer support - Customers that are nervous about venturing from fully-managed services should know that just because a tool is “DIY” or “self-service,” it does not mean that there is no customer service. Provide customers with easy-to-access self-service customer support options like an online knowledge base, customer support chat feature or customer call line, so that clients don’t feel like they are left without help.
Now that your self-service tool is set to go, do you think your clients are ready? It’s important not to jump the gun on introducing a self-service product to clients who may not be, have anxiety with regard to using technology or whose business is not suited for self service. Long-standing clients and clients who have more experience with your product or service might find the do-it-yourself option appealing. New customers or those that are not as familiar with your brand may have a more difficult time using a self-service tool.
Many of our clients utilize the self-service option for frequent online communication efforts, both internal and external. Clients also tend to utilize self-service when the event isn’t overly complex and they need a quick, easy-to-use tool. For highly confidential or important events like global CEO addresses, clients often feel more comfortable having a little extra hand-holding and the fully-managed option works better.
This is not to say that self-service can’t be used for significant online events or that fully-managed options aren’t easy-to-use. It really comes down to the technology provided, the ease-of-use with the interface and the client’s comfort with your company and the product or service offered.
Customers want to conduct business with companies they feel like they can trust and that offer them personalized attention. Self-service offerings should not change any of this. The self-service solution should act as another way to better serve your clients, not eliminate customer communication and service.
Focus on delivering the ultimate customer experience and showing your clients how the technology can benefit their business (and bottom line), and you’ll see that self-service selections will only enhance your customer relationships.