From Self-Service 1.0 to Self-Service 2.0

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By Lior Arussy:

"when Strativity Group’s 2009 Customer Experience Consumer Study asked 1,994 consumers to identify the drivers of exceptional customer experiences, they pointed to human interactions with their favorite vendors. Such self-service channels as the Web and interactive voice response didn’t show strong correlation to loyalty and future purchases. The consumer verdict was very clear: Exceptional customer experiences are rewarded with premium prices, longer relationships, and larger purchases. These results have been validated in multiple customer experience diagnostics we’ve conducted with clients in the last several years. Although self-service channels are required to be easy to use and intuitive, consumers do not attribute loyalty to interactions through these channels.

I would go a step further to state that by shifting customers to self-service channels, companies are trading cost-savings for loyalty. Following the cost-reduction path comes at a hefty price most companies are not aware of. Consider the following statement: “We can reduce calls into our contact center by 10,000 customers a month. This will result in savings of $30,000 a month. However, such a move will also reduce the likelihood of these customers buying from us again by 45 percent.” How many chief executive officers would approve such a proposal? Yet this is exactly the sort of loss you risk when you don’t measure impact on customer loyalty and fail to view the cost reduction in the context of the complete customer relationship.

On the other hand, our survey respondents ranked traditional human interactions at retail locations and contact centers as having a high degree of correlation with customer loyalty and future purchases. The reason was quite simple: These channels represent experiences in which customers feel that the company served them, added value, and delivered value unique to them.

In Self-Service 1.0, the entire approach was to treat customers as utilitarian. A customer zipped in, conducted business, and exited as quickly as possible: e-commerce as drive-through window. Now, a customer may spend much of her life online, but how much of that time is devoted to your site? Two minutes? One minute? She’ll soon wander off to Facebook and YouTube—where other companies can openly vie for her affections. If she sees no difference between the companies—if you’ve failed to delight her—she’ll take her attention and her business elsewhere." (