Today's consumers shudder at the thought of speaking to a customer service representative. In fact, 89 percent of consumers go directly to business websites or turn to Google, Bing or another search engine to find information on products, services, or businesses before they take part in any sort of human interaction.
Across all industries, consumers prefer self-service when possible to human interaction. Fifty-six percent say that a lack of online information about products or services will cause them to abandon a website. So, our need for self-service is actually driving us to turn to whichever companies offer it. We'd rather just "Google It."
It's time for businesses to learn from the online consumers' expectations and desires. Use your customers' Google-it attitudes to your advantage, by making your web and mobile sites answer-seeker ready.
Three Little Words: Just Google It
The three little words "just Google it" have forever changed customer service. Not only do consumers prefer to find answers themselves, but they want to be the first to find them, as well as the first to share them with others via social media channels. With an understanding that 75 percent of consumers prefer using online support if it provides accurate information, shouldn't live person and search engine technology across web and mobile properties be top priority?
The round-the-clock convenience of search engines like Google has increased the demand for self-service content like FAQs, downloadable documents, and how-to videos. Try making this information as "searchable" as possible on your website. Your customers are also looking for speedy answers to questions, so information should never be buried among other web content.
In a perfect world, every organization would have a tool bar on its website where customers could search and find answers to every question. However, as customer service professionals can attest, there is no end to the situations and questions customers present, and search tools will not always provide the right answers.
Consumers are revealing the answer to our very own customer service conundrum -the easier it is to find answers across all channels, the more likely customers are to stay on your website and make purchases.
Connecting with the Self-Service Customer
It's challenging enough to offer self-service options across your web and mobile sites, yet alone on every communication channel. Yet the easier it is to find answers or receive a prompt response across all channels, the more likely you are to connect with your customers and make them feel valued. A 2013 Forrester Research report revealed that customers want more information across multiple channels, but more importantly, they want companies to value their time in making it readily available. Seventy-one percent of survey respondents said that valuing their time is the most important thing a company can do to provide them with good service.
In addition to driving the need for self-service across multiple channels, the just-Google-it generation is using more channels than ever before to access information, share, and talk about your brand. From social media channels like Twitter and Facebook, to online forums like Yelp, customers have been given a platform on which to speak, and it's your job to respond appropriately.
Begin by viewing all the channels you've set up for your customers as equal playing fields. Be sure to have a team member responding, in the same voice, to questions and complaints across all platforms. Understand that for this generation, self-service not only means quick Google searches, but real-time responses across multiple channels.
The Future of Self-Service
In the future, self-service will not only drive the types of technologies organizations are adopting to handle customer service, but also change expectations for instantaneous customer service. In The Real Self-Service Economy, 40 percent of approximately 3,000 consumers in a global survey said they prefer self-service to human contact for their future contact with companies, and 70 percent expect a company website to include a self-service application.
The just Google-it generation is driving the future of customer service. Customers who want to access information will access it when they want it, how they want it. The challenge will be making answers and information as easy as possible to find, and enabling the self-service customer across every channel.