Wynand Smit, CEO INOVO
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Self-service business solutions allow for organisations to engage and support customers as they face increasingly rigid quarantine restrictions.

There is plenty of research that points to how customers prefer finding alternative solutions before having to pick up the phone to a contact centre agent or go into the store to resolve a problem. In fact, recent research found that kick-ass customer service was defined by its ability to reduce customer friction through seamless self-service. That dialogue hasn’t necessarily changed, but the drive behind it certainly has. The impact of Covid-19, has elevated the role of self-service from playing a part of the omnichannel experience to an essential customer experience tool. 

What the business needs now, however, is a clearly marked route to self-service success. The following steps are designed to help your business make informed choices into omnichannel communication solutions that will help you stay on top of customer engagement during the coronavirus pandemic.

Step 01: Ask what the customer wants

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Self-service has become an important differentiator in a market where customers are struggling with the complexities of self-isolation. As measures become increasingly rigid to prevent the spread of the virus, customers will need the reassurance that organisations can provide them with reliable and efficient self-service tools and systems when they need it. 

Before you even start looking at new solutions and channels, however, examine your existing ones and see how you can layer improvements on top of them. If you need assistance, collaborate with a company that specialises in multichannel integration and understands what your contact centre needs now to make it future proof for tomorrow. 

As a first step, don’t focus on building as many self-service channels as technology and budgets allow, rather focus on what the customer needs from your business and map it back to the technology. Customers get frustrated and rapidly lose interest if systems don’t work or are poorly orchestrated. An example of this could be if a chatbot can only process a few requests, forcing the customer to use other channels and increasing the time spent on solving a query. Figure out what your customers want and then invest in solutions that can fulfill those needs. 

Step 02: Differentiate by design

Self-service needs to be implemented intelligently and part of its success stems from the design. One way to solve the challenges your business may be facing is through journey mapping your existing processes. This can help track and identify the problems customers are currently experiencing across channels and interactions, as well as potential opportunities for improvement. This will help the business to determine how effective these channels are in fulfilling business requirements and if the underlying processes support this sufficiently. If self-service solutions are designed correctly, they can offer stressed customers a measure of relief and control and it can be a point of differentiation rather than a possible point of CX failure.

Step 03: Invest in a multi-channel approach

Once you’ve established a solid foundation, as outlined above, your next step is to look into self-service options that can help you deliver the right type of self-service across multiple channels that offer value to your customers. These channels will be entirely dependent on the business you run and the platforms you already have in place – they should complement them and enhance your ability to engage with your customers. You can implement anything from WhatsApp to web portals to a cloud-based contact centre, so choose the solutions that best fit your customer and demographic.

Self-service not only opens the door for customer engagement when all the other doors have been closed, it also helps your business manage concerns that will arise during the shutdown.