Today's busy customers are becoming increasingly willing to find service solutions themselves before contacting an organization for help. This trend not only helps customers get what they want faster, but it's also a plus for organizations, helping them decrease their service costs.

In fact, a report by Mintel analysts identified automated self-service as a growing global trend. "Moving forward, automation is going to be about cutting to the chase, skipping past laborious processes, to get us to the experience or the product more quickly," notes Richard Cope, Mintel's director of insight and trends. In a recent blog post, Forrester analyst Kate Leggett notes that self-service closely follows voice as the primarily used communication channel, and in the past three years there's been a 12 percent rise in the use of web self-service, a 24 percent increase in chat, and a 25 percent increase in community usage for customer service. Survey findings released by Amdocs last month found that 83 percent of customers would be more likely to recommend a company which offered "easy-to-use and consistent" self-service over mobile phones, while Nuance found that 67 percent of people prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative. "Self-service is more effective and convenient for people than human service," notes Robert Weideman, Nuance's executive vice president and general manager.

With this in mind, forward-thinking organizations have been looking for ways to bolster their self-service offerings, allowing customers to get what they want faster and improve the overall experience. Banks, for example, have long been catering to customers' affinity for self-service through automated teller machines, cutting queues inside their branches and allowing customers to withdraw or deposit money at any time of the day. Advances in technology are making it easier for organizations to deliver self-serve solutions to their customers. Elizabeth Cholawsky, Citrix's general manager and vice president of IT support, notes that younger individuals are even more likely to seek self-service. "The generational shift means that workers and consumers expect to be able to help themselves first," she notes. Perse Faily, EMN8's CEO, agrees. "We're seeing that customers, especially the younger ones, have a higher expectation for more self-service," she notes, adding that consumers are recognizing the advantage of self-service. A characteristic of today's customers that is pushing them towards using self-service is their desire to get what they want immediately, notes André Cichowlas, vice president and global practices head at Capgemini's financial services division.