Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Realities of Online Self-Service
Forrester Research says that business leaders must dramatically revitalize the self-service experience offered on customer facing websites just to keep pace with evolving consumer expectations. There are key realities of modern online service that expose the gap between customer expectations and website performance, and how you can take steps to close that gap starting now.
1. Customers have grown tired of your old online help tools.
Customer satisfaction with today's most common web self-service features is abysmal and is getting worse. In 2011, only 51% of consumers who used online help sections or FAQs for self-service were satisfied, down from 56% in 2009. As more companies rectify this by deploying next generation self-service solutions and virtual agents, fewer customers will tolerate antiquated self-service help tools online.
2. Customers now expect a superior experience online, not just a good one.
Exceptionally positive online experiences are now setting the bar for what customers expect when they visit virtually any website in search of answers and information. According to Forrester, 70% of online consumers expect businesses to try harder to provide superior online customer service.
3. Consumers arc impatient and protective of their time.
Consumers cite "valuing my time" as the most important thing a company can do to deliver a good online customer experience. Yet most websites are complex, hard to navigate and filled with content that provides multiple possible answers rather than a single, swift path to resolution.
4, Customer service has gone mobile.
Mobile phones are now ubiquitous. Nearly 88% of US adults own them, and 27% of US adults are already considered "super-connected" consumers, using their phones for information. research and commerce. What is more, digital tablet sales are predicted to outpace sales of PCs by 2015. Convenience and ease-of-use are the hallmarks of these mobile form factors. Websites that offer experiences contrary to these attributes will only raise the ire of today's increasingly impatient and unforgiving mobile consumer.
5. Social media is increasingly embraced as a customer service tool.
Back in 2009, just 1% of consumers used Twitter for customer service. This number jumped to 19% in 2011. Delivering a consistent service experience across multiple channels is critical, especially today, as consumers are not shy about using social media sites to publicly complain and vent frustration about any interactions with companies that fail to satisfy.
6. Dissatisfaction online = hijacked revenues.
One of the most appealing benefits of delivering a positive experience in the web channel is the opportunity for organizations to provide information that supports and encourages purchase decisions. Online, the shift from a customer service conversation to a purchase consideration conversation can be a very natural and systematic progression. This progression is thwarted, however, the moment a self-service experience fails to satisfy.
The impact of the self-service experience on revenues should not be underestimated. Fully 45% of US online consumers agree with the statement: "I am very likely to abandon my online purchase if I cannot find a quick answer to my questions."
These trends underline the urgent need to revitalize the online service experience offered by most companies. Online self-service is in need of resuscitation. Useful web self-service and virtual agent technologies that can deliver an enhanced customer experience are currently underutilized.
Where To Go from Here?
What should your organization do as the first step toward improving the online customer experience?
Begin with an honest and objective assessment of the self-service experience your website offers today. Looking at your customer facing website, ask yourself these three questions...
1. Is there a single, highlly visible starting point for self-service activity?
Today's consumers are task oriented when they go online. Your customers want their self-service journey to begin immediately and move swiftly to completion. Looking at your home page or most highly trafficked customer service page, ask yourself if the average customer would be able to identify the clear starting point for any customer service-related task in a matter of seconds. Any required navigation or clicking through to new pages is viewed as time waste and is out of alignment with their expectation.
2. Is issue resolution generally a multi-step or a single-step, activity?
When looking for information online, customers want a single accurate answer that is accessible in one step. Any content page that offers more than one alternative answer or path to an answer, requires your customer to take additional steps for sorling, scanning content and/or comparing answers. On your website, when results are served, is the customer presented with a single answer, or multiple results to sift through?
3. How will you measure how your site is performing?
A quantitative assessment of your self-service performance is the first thing you will need to establish for any improvement to the self-service experience. A free online self-service assessment tool, created by Forrester and InielliResponse, is vendor-agnostic methodology you can use for scoring your site's performance and charring a path for improvement.