Customer Service Channel Usage Highlights the Importance of Good Self-Service

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Customers are using more communication channels for customer service than ever before. They are also contacting customer service organizations more frequently. Companies are rising to this challenge as overall satisfaction with the quality of service communication channels is trending upwards.
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Customers are using more communication channels for customer service than ever before. They are also contacting customer service organizations more frequently. Companies are rising to this challenge as overall satisfaction with the quality of service communication channels is trending upwards.

Moreover, customers have little appetite for long or difficult service interactions, including navigating arduous IVR menus to connect with an agent or waiting in queues to be connected to a phone agent; and are increasingly turning to self-service as the easiest path to service resolution. Here are some key takeaways from our latest consumer survey about channel usage for customer service.

For the first time in the history of our survey, respondents reported using the FAQ pages on a company's website more often than speaking with an agent over the phone. Use of the help/FAQ pages on a company's website for customer service increased from 67 percent in 2012 to 76 percent in 2014, while phone interactions have remained constant at a 73 percent usage rate.

Other self-service channels also see increased usage since 2012. For example, use of communities and virtual agents jumped by more than 10 percentage points each. We also see robust uptake of speech and mobile self-service channels.
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Self-service adoption increased across all generations from 2012 to 2014, with the largest increases attributable to older boomers (ages 59-69) and the golden generation (ages 70+).

Online chat adoption continues to rise--from 38 percent in 2009 to 43 percent in 2012 to 58 percent in 2014. Screensharing, co-browsing and SMS are other channels that are increasing in popularity among the young and old alike.

Companies must continue to meet their customers' expectations for good service and continue to invest in modern technologies and streamlined business processes to help connect customers with the right agent for optimal outcomes. Explore decisoning engines and real-time speech analytics to monitor customer sentiment, and recommend the next best step in a conversation. Look at using more pervasive quality monitoring and customer feedback to identify gaps in agent knowledge, and address these gaps with targeted training. Look at using modern knowledge solutions to reduce the manual overhead of keeping content fresh.

About the Author: Kate Leggett is a VP and Principal Analyst at at Forrester Research.

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