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Build More Intuitive Self-Service

Posted by: Today's Tip Contributor on June 24, 2011

Organizations across industries continue to encourage and deliver more self-service options via websites, kiosks, and automated phone systems in order to cut live-support costs and give consumers more control over their experiences. However, many are failing to design systems and processes with the customer in mind. That translates to increased operations costs and customer frustration and dissatisfaction.

One of the most common pitfalls lies in the most important and basic step in the self-service process: customer identification (or authentication). When customers aren’t recognized by automated phone systems in particular, they are forced to abandon self-service and must find alternate ways to complete their transactions, which typically requires costly, live, customer-service support. When we recently analyzed behaviors in authentication during the automated self-service process for more than 300 million individuals in the financial services, telecom, cable, utility, and insurance industries, we discovered that on average, 10 percent who call into an automated phone system will reach a customer service representative because of a failed authentication attempt. Unidentified callers are 30 percent more likely than identified callers to be transferred to a second customer service representative. The analysis also revealed that customers who speak to more than one agent during the call were 12 percent less satisfied as a whole.

How can companies deliver self-service processes that get customers in and out efficiently and effectively?

1. Use a dialed-from number when possible. By identifying customers as soon as they call in with the phone number on file, organizations can immediately recognize the customer and quickly pull up account or service information, with little to no effort on the customer’s part.

2. Keep it simple. Organizations should ask for personal identifiers that are easy to recall (such as a phone number or date of birth) rather than such difficult proprietary information as PIN and account numbers, which aren’t always readily accessible.

3. Make it easy for customers to retrieve or reset information. This is particularly important in the Web channel, where forgotten passwords account for a significant portion of failures and subsequent calls to representatives. Customers who are offered the option of answering a security question rather than providing an account number are more than 30 percent more likely to be successful.

By applying these proven best practices to the self-service process, organizations can not only cut unnecessary costs and drive higher satisfaction. They will also effectively drive higher adoption rates, simultaneously balancing the goals of the organization and needs of the customer.

Marco Pacelli
Chief Executive Officer

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