The Glory of Empowered Customers and the Potential Nightmare of Self-Service Offerings

By: Clarabridge Team

August 18, 2015

Customer Engagement
customer experience
customer experience management
Customer Feedback

Self-scan checkouts at a grocery store are both a godsend and my greatest source of frustration. Sure, when I’m in a hurry and checkout lines at the till are 8 people deep, the self-scan kiosks are a blessing. That is, until I’m mid-way through my scanning process. Invariably, that’s when the machine thinks I have forgotten to bag something, I accidentally take too long trying to scan the barcode, or I’m frantically trying to open up a new plastic bag. The gut-wrenching error alert pops up on the screen, the little light over me blinks a deathly red, and I have to try to flag down the one attendant on duty.  Cue the sighs of deep frustration.

How to plan for self-service offerings

Thankfully, not all self-service experiences lead to an emotional rollercoaster. Especially in today’s world, where many customers want a quick, hassle-free, convenient and efficient service experience, self-service options can be right on point. But when the service is poorly managed, it can be almost as harmful as not even providing the option in the first place.

When considering whether to offer self-service capabilities, there are three key questions every business needs to ask itself:

  • What do your customers want from each touchpoint? Self-Service offerings are meant to improve the customer experience and give your customers the empowerment, convenience, and flexibility they crave. The only way to do this is to understand what your customers actually want. Achieve this by asking your customers, analyzing their feedback, and truly understanding their wants and needs.
  • How do your customers complete their tasks? In order to make changes, you need to take stock of the current situation. What are the different ways that your customers interact with you at each touchpoint? By benchmarking your current offering, you can build out a smart, informed strategy on where you need to go.
  • What is driving your customers’ frustrations? To fix a problem, you have to understand not only what the problem is, but also why it exists, what’s driving it, and why it is a point of fixation for your customers. Knowing the why behind a customer feedback trend, such as a decline in customer satisfaction, gives you clues about what makes your customers happy and how to alleviate their frustrations.

Autodesk uses customer feedback to drive self-service options

Take the example of Autodesk, a world leader in 3D design software for entertainment, natural resources, manufacturing, engineering, construction, and civil infrastructure.

Autodesk’s customer experience management journey started a few years ago at the onset of a business model transition. As the company changed the way they sold their products, it became necessary to understand how their customers felt about the shift and make sure their needs were being met. And so Autodesk’s Customer Insights team was created.

Autodesk found that the success of their support interactions largely determined the relationship they had with their customers. In order to make sure customer support was delivering on customer needs, Autodesk has put significant effort into understanding that part of the customer journey. They use web intercept surveys to measure satisfaction on their website and Community sites, as well as Customer Support Interaction Surveys via email.

Based on customer insights, Autodesk overhauled and improved their web-based support and learning resources. The company focused largely on empowering their customers to self-serve, and solve many of their questions without having to call into their Support Center. Autodesk achieved this by improving the content provided online.

Customers have loved the robust library of learning resources and support, and there has been a 34% increase in unique visitors to these online sections. Moreover, Autodesk saw a decrease in support cases by 9% compared to the previous years. The subsequent yearly savings from reducing case handling are estimated to be in the millions of dollars.

The takeaway

Self-service offerings may not be for every business—you have to understand how and where your customers interact with you to determine if you should be offering self-service options. Building a journey map is a good place to start, and make sure to analyze and use customer insights to guide innovation and strategy. Customers will love you for streamlining a service they find cumbersome and frustrating. As long as it’s done right.

Serina Aswani is Manager of Content Marketing and EMEA Marketing at Clarabridge. As part of her responsibilities, Serina serves as the voice of Clarabridge’s customers, highlighting customer stories and sharing proven best practices for implementing successful Customer Experience Management programs. Serina also oversees content marketing strategy and PR for the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) region. She is responsible for establishing Clarabridge’s position as an industry thought leader across EMEA. Serina holds a M.S. in Commerce, specializing in Marketing and Management, as well as a B.A in French and Studio Arts, from the University of Virginia. Read more from Serina on Twitter at @SerinaAswani