The unveiling of Amazon Go to Seattle in 2016 opened up a new vista in the customer-centric shopping experience. Their mantra, “No lines, no checkout – just grab and go” set an unprecedented trend for self-service that grabbed customer delight like never before.

Self-service capabilities first made an appearance in 1917 in physical retail stores in the United States. The owner of Piggly Wiggly, now an American supermarket chain, Clarence Saunders received patents for the idea of a self-serving grocery store back in the day. Though self-service has been around for some time, in the 21st century it’s certainly pushing the envelope in terms of its digital capabilities.

In this disruptive age, smartphones have become a digital extension of the human mind. Apps and ease of mobile availability have made it easier for single point data convergence for the new-age user, who is a customer on-the-go. With the rise of social media connectivity, users have evolved into fiercely independent individuals who demand instantaneous solutions. Being accustomed to the online medium and automated systems all around them, today’s consumers have little time on their hands to keep waiting for the IVR menu or even speak to dedicated human agents as far as customer service is concerned. Moreover, appeasing the customer via telemarketing tactics, and encroaching their online space with targeted ads has often backfired for many brands. Disgruntled customers usually take to social media in the new age to cite their woes publicly, expecting instant answers. Customer experience has gradually shaped up to be one where the customer is in control of expectation and delivery both. In a bid to appease, retain and attract a substantial customer base, companies are heavily invested in observing customer preference and deriving their customer experience strategy from it.

Is self-service emerging as a customer preference?

The answer is, yes. According to research, 81 percent of customers today prefer an attempt at resolution without human contact. In fact, for the year 2020, which is just around the corner, Gartner predicts customers will prefer managing 85 percent of their relationship with a business without any human interaction. Customers find panacea in shopping and maintain a rigorous online presence to remain updated with market trends. Rising aspiration has lowered speculation time and patience for the customer who is on an omnichannel journey to stay ahead of the curve. In an on-demand economy, customers are not willing to put up with long pauses and being put on hold. A gap has emerged between spiraling customer expectation and lack of adequate training of human agents who remain overwhelmed with the bulk of resolution to manage. Smart businesses have endeavored to bridge this gap by introducing self-service options led by tech innovation.

Which technologies have contributed to the self-service growth?

Customer experience growth has proliferated multifold due to fast-paced connectivity, pushing the growth of self-service along with it. Consumers are engaging with self-service at most of the touchpoints, be it the web, smartphones or physical stores. Self-service technology or SST is ubiquitous in the digital age and modern life. Demonetization in India brought in a huge spurt in digitization and self-service promotion for customers in the banking and services sector. SSTs have replaced face-to-face interaction to a large extent in order to foster accuracy and convenience for the customer. Some technologies contributing to the self-service trend are –

  • Touchscreen
  • Kiosks
  • Websites
  • Mobile Apps
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Cloud

How is self-service helping businesses?

By integrating self-service in their customer experience, a smart business will send out a strong message of “I Value Your Time” to their customers. This approach sets the tone for experience differentiation between two competing brands. A well-thought-out self-service interface connects the customer to the product of their choice in no time, with a seamless experience and customer support adding to customer delight. A resulting rise in customer retention and loyalty numbers fulfills a coveted goal for most brands. Another key benefit is the cost savings from self-service which is higher than in the case of hiring human agents. Hiring and training costs can be saved and maintenance and hardware costs can be lowered to negligible with on-cloud migration and software installation. Increase in customer personalization and virtual activity of the customer helps businesses to capture more data that can contribute to ongoing and agile customer experience strategies.

TeleApps has been helping businesses and contact centers evolve their strategies aligned with disruptive trends in the customer experience realm. With TeleApps, you can redefine your business growth with customized products that address specific business needs and provide clear business outcomes. With a strong consultative and customer solution-centric approach, TeleApps assists businesses to make the most of their technology. TeleApps’ IVR Rule Engine, a self-service platform focused on graphical interface is geared for an organization’s application administrators and business stakeholders to quickly modify their existing IVR. Read more about TeleApps here.

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