Helping Customers Help Themselves: The Era of Self-Service

Next Generation Communications Blog

Helping Customers Help Themselves: The Era of Self-Service

By: Jessica Verbruggen, Integrated Marketing Assistant at Alcatel-Lucent Motive

While the Internet and all of the technologies that have stemmed from its creation have served to make our lives easier in many ways, they can also be very confusing and frustrating at times. In these times, people have traditionally turned to call centers to get customer support. In today’s increasingly digitized world though, fewer people are relying on this form of assisted service. Contacting a call center tends to be time consuming and, often times, frustrating. Traditional customer support is not very well-suited to handling the millions of very specific questions that arise during device usage every day. Enter mobile self-service.

There are few areas of our economy today that haven't been touched by the growing self-service industry. Many, it seems, prefer to resolve their issues themselves. People relish the ability to “do it themselves” because it affords them a certain level of control over their devices and services that was previously not attainable.

 A recent consumer survey commissioned by Nuance Enterprise found that a majority of respondents thought positively about self-service. More specifically, 72% of smartphone users surveyed said that they have a more positive view of a company if they have a mobile self-care app, and 81% will tell others about a positive app experience. In terms of what motivates them to use a mobile app, 35% said that effortless transition to a live agent from a mobile app is the feature most likely to drive usage, while 48% want more functionality.  

It’s not just customers who are embracing self-service though. Many CSPs are hopping on the bandwagon and offering web-based portals and mobile applications that standardize the customer experience across fixed and mobile device platforms. These tools provide customers with a personalized, contextual experience for diagnosing and troubleshooting configuration and performance issues related to access networks, home LANs, devices, applications, and Wi-Fi.

Why are both customers and service providers adopting self-care so enthusiastically? From the customer’s perspective, self-service is valuable because it is convenient and flexible. It provides an “autonomous communications channel enabling customers to obtain ongoing support on an “anytime” basis”[1]. Users are able to address the issue from wherever they are using whatever channel is most convenient for them, whether it be a smartphone, a tablet, a laptop, the Internet, or within a website. This is being enabled by new technologies like WebRTC and VoLTE, which make it easy to strike up a conversation from anywhere. For CSPs, self-service not only reduces the cost of interaction with customers, but also allows them to collect more customer information to deliver a more personalized experience. This, in turn, drives higher customer retention, increases revenues, and positions their brand as being a provider of a comprehensive and personalized customer experience.

It is critical to implement these self-care initiatives without compromising customer satisfaction in return for the cost-savings associated with an automated self-service system. The self-service tools that are provided must be valuable to consumers in order for them to adopt them wholeheartedly. They must empower customers to transact how they want, when they want.

At Motive, self-service is something we have long been interested in. Our dynamic and innovative self-care products, like Motive’s Self-Service Console, empower CSPs to reduce support costs, accelerate problem resolution and exceed customer expectations. These tools also allow customers to pay their bills, access their accounts and schedule maintenance, all without having to involve an intermediary. After making Motive’s self care options available to a large European operator, 88% of customers that used its PC-based troubleshooting application were able to avoid a call to the help desk altogether.

Due to the increasing amount of human-computer interaction in our world today, many people are much more comfortable accessing an account via a self-service portal. Customers feel empowered when they are able to avoid bypass the middleman and just resolve their problems themselves. On the flip side, CSPs are able to cut costs, get a better view of their customers, and provide more personalized service. That’s a win-win if I’ve ever seen one.

[1] Gupta, B., Johnson, R., & Pramidi, S. (2005). The Challenge of Customer Self-Service in Telecom. Infosys.


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