Web-based customer service channels which allow customers to bypass talking to people and, in some cases, to settle problems themselves are proving popular and having an impact on call centre volumes, says new research.
The survey was carried out by CRM Magazine and asked 520 call centre and CRM professionals about the growth of self-service online help.
B2B Web self-service is growing
Nearly half of respondents reported their business used self-service channels in their CRM, and they expected it to grow in importance. Six out of 10 of the managers were adding a mobile element to their CRM too. However, many of these self-service facilities were fairly limited – often just FAQs and a search system – and were essentially a slimmed-down version of what customer service operators use when working with customers.
It does work, though. Around 50% of those CRM managers with self-service channels reported that phone and e-mail enquiries went down as a result. Self-service also drives sales, with more than half of respondents reporting increased sales via self-service. Cross- and up-selling will only boost this.
Self-service often means websites become more complex, and care needs to be taken to integrate self-service with serviced customer care operations. But freeing up time allows customer service staff to become more specialised and expert.
The data generated by self-service web help is not yet being exploited according to the survey, though this important source of customer information will surely be used soon.
Taking B2B Web self-service seriously
Self-service must also become more sophisticated if it is to provide a realistic alternative to speaking to real members of staff. Videos, social media, forums and chat are all being explored.
Web self-service has one huge advantage for the customer. It’s almost always instant. Long phone waits are high on the list of call centre complaints and customers will go elsewhere if they are frustrated in this way, even if they end up with the answers they sought.
According to the survey, self-service is cheaper and can offer a better customer experience. Understanding what customers want – at a quite deep level – is vital to survival these days.
While this looks like a sheer positive for self-service customer service, it should be noted that the company which carried out the research for CRM Magazine – IntelliResponse – are in the business of supplying solutions in this area themselves.
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