Customer Self Service

Learn from this Sample Customer Journey: Booking a Flight to Boarding the Plane

Today’s customer journey considers the beginning-to-end experience that the user follows to complete a task. Often, the journey involves numerous channels and devices that all must interact with the customer wherever, whenever and however they want.

Air travel can be exhausting, both physically and mentally, especially if the many plans that have to be in place don’t come together. Delayed or canceled flights, difficulty scheduling backup flights, lost luggage and missed connections are just the beginning of the travel headache. Done correctly, the customer journey of a person who’s traveling can be greatly eased with intuitive messaging and thoughtful touch points. Consider this modern customer journey for the traveler:

• Book your flight online well in advance to secure the best ticket price.

• Receive a push notification from the airline’s mobile app that allows you to check-in the night before your flight.

• Choose the way you’d like to receive your boarding pass (saving it to your phone, via email, etc.).

• At the airport, visit a kiosk to scan the boarding pass on your phone and then print your baggage ticket.

• Show security your digital boarding pass.

• Receive immediate flight status updates through your preferred contact method (text message, email, app push notification, etc.).

• While on the flight, go to the airline’s website on your phone, tablet or laptop to watch movies.

Traveling of the past was often rife with long lines to get to an agent at the airport, paper boarding passes that can get easily lost and difficulty keeping up with the latest flight changes. The reason the new, digitally-enhanced customer journey flows so well is because the airline (or booking service) the traveler uses offers online and mobile access; remembers personal information, allowing the company to send customized alerts to individual travelers; has multiple digital options for doing necessary travel tasks, then syncs those options (saving the boarding pass to your phone then scanning it at the luggage tag kiosk); and generally keeps travelers in-the-know regarding their trip. Once on the flight, the company is further able to keep the traveler happy and entertained by offering in-flight Internet service and other types of free entertainment.

This type of customer journey takes into account the cornerstones that customers need: consistent and proactive service, optimized features, collaborative options and seamless transitions.

Live Chat vs. Virtual Agents: A Story of Overcoming the Divide to Work Together in Perfect Harmony

live chat vs virtual agent

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO, Creative Virtual

In the not too distant past it wasn’t uncommon to come across organisations struggling to decide between using live chat or a virtual agent on their website for customer support. The customer service marketplace took a very polarised view of these technologies with proponents of each making strong arguments for why their preferred solution was the best for cutting costs, boosting revenue and bettering the customer experience. Even today, some companies still view this as an either-or decision: either they give customers the option to get support online from human chat agents through live chat or they provide a virtual agent so that customers can self-serve online through automated chat.

However, this view is changing and the divide created by the live chat vs. virtual agent debate is disappearing into a discussion of how to bring these two technologies together to work in perfect harmony. Before going any further, let’s take a quick look at each of these solutions individually:

Live Chat – Live chat, also sometimes referred to as web chat, enables organisations to offer customers and prospective customers a one-on-one conversation with a live chat agent. Initially live chat was just used on websites, but now it is also utilised on other engagement channels such as messaging apps and SMS. In the past, supporters of this technology would often highlight the importance of the human touch provided by live chat as a key argument of its superiority over virtual agents.

Virtual Agents – Over the years these automated conversational systems have been given a variety of names, including virtual agent, chatbot, avatar, virtual customer assistant, bot, virtual assistant and chatterbot. In its infancy this technology was used by organisations as basic FAQ systems on websites, but today’s virtual agents are much more advanced and capable of engaging users in sophisticated natural language conversations across many contact channels. In the live chat vs. virtual agents argument, advocates of virtual agents would draw attention to the significantly lower cost per conversation, consistent responses, the ability to have unlimited concurrent conversations and the 24/7 availability of support.

A view within the marketplace of these two solutions being joined up certainly hasn’t happened overnight. Forward-thinking companies seeing the potential of bringing live chat and virtual agents together have set the stage for this change. For example, back in 2012 Creative Virtual was shortlisted for an Econsultancy Innovation Award in the category of ‘Innovation in Customer & User Experience’. Our entry showcased the integration of the virtual agent we provided for a leading telecommunications company in the UK with the live chat product offered by one of our partners. The integration provided a seamless handover from the virtual agent to a live chat agent within the same template. This handover was also signalled by the virtual agent avatar ‘walking off’ and a different avatar representing the live agent ‘walking on’. At the time, this was an extremely innovative approach to combining self-service with human-assisted service in a way that created an improved user experience. Around the same time another Creative Virtual customer, an online financial services company in the US, deployed a virtual agent in front of their existing live chat offering. Their goal was to reduce repetitive questions being handled by live agents which they easily achieved through an 80% reduction in live chat volumes.

These are just two early success stories that helped to draw attention to the potential benefits of bringing these technologies together. This narrative has also been greatly influenced by the evolution of customer expectations. While customers were once ok with simply having the options to communicate with organisations via multiple channels, now they still want those engagement channel options but with a seamless, omnichannel experience.

Widespread adoption of technology, such as smartphones, along with generational changes are having a big impact on how customers want to engage with brands. The future of the contact centre lies in a combination of virtual and real support. Organisations still viewing live chat and virtual agents as an either-or decision and as stand-alone tools instead of as complementary solutions are going to struggle to provide quality digital support experiences for their customers.

In order for live chat and virtual agents to work together in harmony, they need to be powered by a single knowledgebase and backed by a central knowledge management and workflow platform. This gives organisations the ability to keep information up-to-date and consistent across all self-service and human-assisted support channels which builds confidence with customers. Implementing a feedback loop that’s linked with the centralised knowledgebase and workflow enables live agents to provide real-time feedback on content that can easily be reviewed and used to action updates. Live chat agents become knowledge experts sharing the responsibility of keeping self-service channels up-to-date.

There is no doubt in my mind that the future of customer engagement is a blend of artificial intelligence (AI) and human thought. The combination of virtual agents and live chat powered by a single knowledgebase is defining current best practices and, with continuous innovation, will influence the future of customer engagement for organisations around the world.

Curious about how live chat and virtual agents can work together in perfect harmony for your organisation? Register to join me for CRMXchange’s upcoming Tech Tank – Customer Delight: Live Demonstrations of Breakthrough Innovations.

5 Tips for Improving Your Contact Center’s Virtual Agent

The brand-customer relationship has evolved to now include self-service support and today’s consumers expect it to be available and personalized. The virtual agent (VA) is a form of self-service that allows the customer to interact with an automated system, albeit one that simulates human interaction. Improving your contact center’s VA system will enhance the customer experience.

1. The VA are available around-the-clock. One of self-service’s benefits is that it lets customers find and digest information on their own time and at their own pace. If the customer has a complex issue – which modern VA systems are able to handle – they can sit down to deal with it when they’re best able to.

2. During normal hours when live staff is available, offer the customer the opportunity to speak with a live agent. They should be able to either connect to a live agent in the moment or request a call back instead of having to wait in the queue.

3. Don’t simply send the customer to a list of FAQ based on their keywords. Intelligent VAs can do so much more than crawl for SEO – they can analyze phrasing to truly understand what the customer wants and respond accordingly.

4. Invest in the latest technology. Not every VA will remember personal details about a customer, but companies are coming out with new intelligent assistants that are on the same level as technology like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. Over time, these systems learn customer preferences and continually customize services to meet each customer’s needs.

5. Self-service should always be easy to find and use. For on-site virtual agents, like through live chats, the option should be on every page. When it comes to IVR, menu options should be clear and limited. If you find that people are quickly going from self-service to live support, reassess the self-service options you’re offering.

VAs provide an alternative, helpful service for customers that also lowers the operating cost of the contact center. When a customer can’t or won’t troubleshoot on their own, they turn to channels where they can have their questions answered quickly. Usually, that means interaction with a live agent. With a VA, though, the customer can access the information they need immediately, without waiting on hold for any length of time.

How to Improve Your IVR System

In theory, an IVR system is a great idea. Customers can get personalized support without having speaking with a live agent. When you break the cardinal rules of creating a user-friendly IVR system, though, you risk irritating customers and overloading your agents with live calls.

Simplify Options

Too many options are impossible for callers to remember. Menus within menus are confusing and long-winded. Customers will default to speaking with a live agent or choosing options that sound close to what they want just to get on with it.

Name the Department First

The department should always be named before its associated number You may think that a caller will easily remember to “press 1 for sales,” but “for sales, press 1” is much more fool-proof. This makes it easier for the caller to associate the number with the department. Otherwise, they’ll have to repeat the menu or just opt to speak to a live agent.

Allow Extra Time

It’s great when an IVR system can access detailed customer information, like an account number or tracking information. However, it’ll take the customer a moment to jot that number down. Give them a few extra seconds, say the number twice and offer a way for the customer to have the information repeated. If the customer misses the one detail they called in for, the IVR system hasn’t done its job.

Don’t Hang Up

Some IVR systems will automatically disconnect the call if the wait is too long. Even if there’s a lengthy queue and the caller will need to wait for a long time, it can be more frustrating to get hung up on. Some callers prefer waiting instead of having to call back at a future time, even if the wait time will be shorter. Offer a callback option that will hold their place in line and ring them when an agent is available.

Maintain the Same Voice

The same voice – a human voice, not a robot one – should be used throughout the entire IVR system. Switching voices is distracting and the caller may not focus on what is being said as much as the new voice. Maintaining the same voice throughout each menu and option is the most professional option.

AI integrations like IVR can be incredibly helpful for the contact center, so long as they make less work for agents.

A Vision of Seamless, Fully-Integrated, End-to-End Customer Engagement

V-Person Live Chat

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO

Today is a truly momentous day, and a very proud one, for all of us at Creative Virtual. Our vision has always been to offer organisations the technology to enable seamless, fully-integrated, end-to-end customer engagement, and to back that technology with the experience of an expert, knowledgeable team. Once we established ourselves as independently recognised leaders in the virtual customer assistant (VCA) space, we underpinned all our channel support with our critically-acclaimed V-Portal™ (knowledge management, workflow management and business intelligence) platform. Today we realised our vision with the official launch of our newest product: V-Person Live Chat™.

Defining industry best practice

V-Person Live Chat completes our customer engagement jigsaw because it successfully blends virtual and real customer support in a way that no other vendor in the marketplace can provide today. Our many years of experience with integrating our V-Person virtual agent technology with other live chat systems made us realise that there was a huge opportunity for organisations to benefit from a deeper blending of the two technologies. This inspired us to develop our own live chat product which is now defining industry best practice through the tight integration of a single knowledgebase for both virtual and real agents, a unique feedback loop and a customisable workflow provided by V-Portal.

At Creative Virtual we closely monitor developing trends and the evolution of engagement touchpoints in order to provide enterprises with cutting-edge Smart Help solutions. It is clear to us that the contact centre in its current form is finished. As there is a transition to more automation, combining virtual and real customer support with a central knowledge management and workflow platform will be key for organisations. We’ve addressed this contact centre shift with the deep integration of virtual agents and live chat, particularly with our unique feedback loop that allows live chat agents to help keep content accurate for both virtual and real agents just by doing their normal jobs.

creative.virtual.self learning lightbulbA complete approach to learning

Our V-Person technology utilises a hybrid approach of human curation of content and self-learning to give organisations a predictable and reliable customer self-service option. We have developed this approach based on our extensive experience and our partnerships with some of the world’s largest organisations. We understand how enterprises want to use virtual agents and chatbots to deliver effective self-service today and how the customer support landscape is evolving for them in the future.

Human curation of content allows organisations to be absolutely sure that their VCA is responding to users in a predictable way. At any point in time, designated content editors have full access to the knowledgebase to make updates that can be deployed instantly to the virtual agent. Organisations never need to wait for the system to ‘re-learn’ the new information. This human element is combined with the virtual agent’s ability to become more intelligent and adapt through self-learning.

V-Person’s statistical algorithm processes user journeys to return a list of related questions that is a true reflection of how users asking for similar information engaged with the virtual agent. Organisations also benefit from our statistical approach to self-learning with tightly integrated business intelligence reporting. V-Portal brings together voice of the customer feedback and user surveys with conversational data in real-time, actionable analytics that are directly linked to the virtual assistant’s knowledgebase.

Now with V-Person Live Chat, we are able to complete our approach to learning with our unique feedback loops. V-Portal enables enterprises to implement feedback loops that allow live agents to provide real-time comments and suggestions on content so that they can improve the virtual agent just by doing their normal job.

This hybrid approach to learning enables V-Person implementations to adapt in a very predictable way. The combination of human and self-learning is important for continually improving the system while also enabling enterprises to maintain control over the reliability of the VCA responses.

Where we go from here

Seeing our vision of seamless, fully-integrated, end-to-end customer engagement come to fruition is an important milestone, but certainly not the end of the roadmap for us. We are looking forward to rolling out our new live chat product to our customer organisations and experiencing with them new levels of customer engagement success. By continuing our collaboration with them, we will look to make new updates to our workflow and do more development around the self-learning aspects of our technology. Our roadmap is all about combining best practices around knowledge curation and self-learning, and integrating V-Person with best-of-breed technologies to provide a world leading enterprise level end-to-end digital customer engagement platform.

Whether you are currently using live chat and/or a virtual agent to support customers or just starting to think about implementing these tools, the best way to see how V-Person Live Chat can benefit your organisation is by requesting a personalised demo.

You can also read more about how we are combining virtual and real support with a live chat solution that is defining industry best practice in our V-Person Live Chat Overview.

Consumers “unfriend” social media for customer service, new survey finds

Consumers “unfriend” social media for customer service, new survey finds

By Micha Catran

If you’ve spent any time on social media – Twitter and Facebook especially – you’ve likely seen posts from consumers less than happy with their recent customer experience. And sometimes a social post can be the quickest way to get a response from a company.

Yet, surprisingly, social media is among the last places consumers want to go for customer service, according to a new survey commissioned by NICE and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The NICE/BCG 2016 Consumer Experience Report offers a snapshot into the attitudes and behaviors of more than 1,700 consumers between the ages of 18 and 65 across the U.S., the U.K., the Netherlands, France, and Australia.

And the decline of social media wasn’t the only note worth taking for brands looking to improve their customer service. Let’s look at some of the major findings and what they mean for customer service in 2016 and beyond.

Social media customer service drops off

Daily, weekly, and monthly use of social media channels doubled between 2011 and 2013, yet those same categories declined between 2013 and 2015. At the same time, the number of respondents who never use or are not offered social media customer service rose from 58 percent in 2013 to 65 percent in 2015.

Respondents who do not use social media cited a number of reasons why: It takes too long to address issues, said 33 percent. It has limited functionality, reported 32 percent. It isn’t feasible for complex tasks, according to 30 percent. Social media was the channel with the highest percentage of abandons in both 2013 and 2015, with the number rising from 32 percent to 42 percent over that period.

Americans have low customer service expectations compared to the rest of the world

The survey asked respondents to rank 25 customer service factors as essential, non-essential, or exceeds expectations. Australians and Europeans thought it essential that they be automatically routed to the correct customer service agent without being transferred multiple times, and that their service provider rep be aware of their past three to five interactions with the company to tailor service to their needs. Americans, on the other hand, said all of those actions would “exceed expectations.”

In total, Americans surveyed ranked only 15 out of 25 factors as essential, while other countries’ respondents expected anywhere from 21 to all 25 attributes.

While American respondents don’t seem to mind waiting for multiple call transfers or repeating their information, having issues resolved immediately was cited by other countries and all industries, genders, and ages as the top factor in a perfect experience, valued by 51 percent of respondents.

Other important factors include reps knowing what consumers need and providing an immediate solution, forwarding information and actions from department to department, and knowing what consumers already did through a self-service channel.

Other customer service findings of interest

Respondents expressed decreased satisfaction and success since 2013 across the board with all contact channels (except for mobile apps), particularly Interactive Voice Response (IVR) (down 20 percent) and social media (down 23 percent).

Churn rates vary amongst different age groups. While 78 percent of baby boomers will leave a provider due to a customer service issue, only 54 percent of millennials will do so.

There was a sharp increase in customer skepticism about the effects of their feedback, with only 25 percent believing that service providers took action based on their feedback, down from 40 percent in 2012.

What the results mean for brands looking to improve customer service

This year’s survey provides further proof that customer service is becoming more complex and more critical for a company’s success. When an organization can create a perfect experience, there are many dividends. As the report’s findings make clear, ample room for improvement creates many opportunities for businesses to set themselves apart.

Every day, we see companies adopting technology to better anticipate their customers’ journey. By leveraging advanced analytics to better understand customers both as individuals and as a collective, they can align their service organization with customer expectations in order to really make a difference.

Micha Catran, Global Vice President and General Manager at NICE, has expertise in portfolio management and new product development across analytics, customer experience, customer journey solutions for the telecommunications, banking, insurance, health care and hospitality markets.

Mr. Catran is responsible for growing NICE Customer Journey and Voice of the Customer market-leading position and ensuring continuous innovation and agility to meet the needs of customer experience and service firms around the world. Before joining NICE, he was a Director of Contact Centers in a leading Telco in Israel. Mr. Catran holds a L.L.B in Law and B.A. in Economics from Haifa University in Israel.

Traditional Web Self-Service Databases vs. Virtual Agents


According to research from Forrester, a majority of customers prefer to use a brand’s website in order to have their questions answered before they choose to call or email customer service. Web self-service should be a component of every contact center’s customer service strategy. Virtual agents are being used by brands who want to provide a personalized self-service experience instead of simply directing customers to an extensive FAQ database.

Most companies that offer web self-service centers have something simple like a FAQ website page or the ability to search their website for a keyword or phrase. This means that the customer has to figure out where to find the answer to their question, if the answer even exists on the website at all. Then, once the customer does find information about their topic, they have to translate the information into something that they can understand and then determine if it applies to their specific situation.

While this type of self-service tells the customer where they might be able to find the answer, it doesn’t provide an actual concise answer to their specific question. Customers get frustrated with this type of online help because it can make even more work for them. Not only does it take effort to locate and translate the answer, but if they can’t find what they need, they’ll have to take even more time to contact customer service in another way.

Today’s web self-service tools aim to solve this problem. Customers can talk to a smart virtual agent who will engage in a two-way conversation with them in order to understand and answer the customer’s query. Customers get relevant, accurate and personalized responses from the online concierge.

Instead of just pointing you to where the answer might be on the website, virtual agents consider the context of the question to provide the most relevant answer. They take into account subtle differences between similar questions to determine precisely what you’re asking. For example, the question, “Where can I buy a cup of coffee?” means that the customer wants to purchase a cup of coffee from the company. The question, “Where do you get your coffee?” means that the customer wants to know where the company’s coffee is sourced. These are two very different questions, though they sound the same, and a virtual agent will be able to tell the difference between the two questions and answer yours accurately.

Virtual agents are also able to utilize customer information to further personalize an answer. For example, if a customer has recently purchased a coffeemaker and they ask the virtual agent, “What’s your return policy?” the virtual agent can answer the customer about how to return their most recent purchase. They can also determine the customer’s location to tell the customer exactly where they can return the item at the store that’s closest to them.

Online self-service goes above and beyond deflecting customer service phone calls and emails. It serves the customer in the way they want to be served. Virtual agents make it simple for customers to quickly find an answer to their question without having to scroll through a bulk of information on a FAQ page.

CRM Self-Service: Tips for Creating an Interactive Knowledge Base

Self-service lets customers access information and perform tasks without needing agent interaction. There are two types of self-service: employee self-service (ESS) and customer self-service (CSS). Both types offer around-the-clock help without requiring someone on the other end. The more quality information that’s available, the more successful self-service will be.

Self-service keeps your customers happy while cutting down on support tickets. Support agents are a limited resource that you shouldn’t overtax; they should be available to focus on more elaborate customer service issues. Self-service options also cost much less than email and telephone support. According to, self-service can reduce support costs by as much as 70 percent.

Creating a Help Center for Customers

When you setup a Help Center for your customers, they can access answers whenever they need to. A knowledge base provides customized customer service even during non-work hours. Customers aren’t the only ones who use the Help Center, either. Your employees will also use the knowledge base when they need to find an answer fast. Here are a few things to keep in mind when setting up a customer service Help Center:

Make It Easy to Find

Customers will only opt for self-service if they know it exists. Make sure to link to the Help Center from your website and mobile app. Your contact center agents should send customers links to articles that will be helpful. You can also include links to the Help Center in your social media posts and on digital products. If the Help Center is not easy to find, your agents will continue to be bogged down by support tickets and communication.

Include the Most Valuable Information

Make sure the right information is available. Only include the information that your customers actually need. Analyze support tickets to determine the most common questions and problems your customers face. Put those queries front-and-center on the Help Center’s front page. For example, include a list of the “Top 5 Most Common Questions” about your service or product.

Add Different Types of Media

Don’t just include a list of FAQ. Written content is valuable, but so are other types of media, like videos and photos. A screenshot with explanatory arrows may be more helpful than a text-only guide. If a product is difficult to setup, a video tutorial will help more than a pamphlet.

Incorporate Helpful Extras

Your Help Center should be searchable and answers should be interactive. After a solution to a question, the system should ask the customer if that solves their problem. If it doesn’t, provide links to other helpful solutions. You can also offer useful downloads or diagnostic tools. Give customers a way to make suggestions when they can’t find what they’re looking for. Provide links to social media and live chat support in case the customers needs to switch to live help.

Does Self-Service Make a Company Less Devoted to Their Customers?

Not at all! Instead, it’s a way to better assist your customers based on their preferences. Customers love self-service options, like how-to videos, FAQs and forums. They can get answers right away without having to speak with a live support agent. Self-service can provide a quicker solution and the opportunity to multi-task. According to, 91% of customers prefer pleasant self-service experiences to live support.

On the other hand, some customers have in-depth questions and need human help no matter what. Self-service puts less pressure on agents to field calls, emails and repetitive tasks, freeing them up to focus on more difficult inquiries.

Digital Strategy Sit Rep

By Reagan Miller, Vice President of Chat Agent Services

I was never an actual member of the armed forces, but my Father was a Lt. Colonel in the Army, so I was “sort of” in the Army too. Among the many colorful words and acronyms, there was one in particular that proved to be highly valuable; it was “sit rep”, short for Situational Report. When my Dad asked for a sit rep, it meant I needed to state my objective, observe my surroundings, assess my location, determine my operational status, assess any threats, determine a recommended course of action, and communicate all of this as accurately and concisely as possible to my commander.

The idea of the sit rep is also useful for the savvy business person. In fact it’s something we do rather instinctively, although we sometimes do not deploy a disciplined approach to the task, and for my military Dad, that’s just not up to spec (specifications for you non-military types). So how does all of this relate to my organization’s digital interaction strategy?

Well, let’s take a moment and “sit rep” it. Before you start to conduct such an analysis, you’ll need a way to gauge your surroundings and look into the future. For this purpose I’d like to propose a Digital Channels Maturity Framework.

This framework will help you:

– Understand the current consumer digital interactions landscape

– Assess your current state relative to a defined maturity model

– Gain insight on what the future holds for digital channels and how you can adapt or perhaps lead among your competitors

– Develop a forward-looking capability roadmap

– Build a business plan for future investment

Digital Channel Maturity

There framework consists of four maturity levels; Siloed, Distributed, Connected and Federated. Each level in the model can be classified using a few essential descriptors:

Level 1 – Siloed: Few channels, consumer initiated, limited availability, not personalized, undetermined value

Level 2 – Distributed: Some channels, initiated by rules, availability inconsistent, not personalized, unclear value

Level 3 – Connected: Many channels, sophisticated targeting, right time, right reason, personalized with journey context, defined value

Level 4 – Federated: All channels, always on, context and personalization is persistent, all text based channels, cross channel / channel pairing, value is determined at journey level

In our engagements with some of the world’s leading consumer brands, we found that they are in very different positions along the maturity continuum. This is often a result of the speed of change in consumer expectations, fast emerging technologies and disjointed strategies coupled with reactionary mandates to provide service in new channels. However, there are more than a few companies who seem to have performed their sit rep, driven by a groundswell of new leadership that are making bold moves to unify their digital channels strategy.

So what’s next? Now that you have a framework for your sit rep, it’s time to act. Brush up on those acronyms, get your war paint on, be ready to be brutally honest with yourself and your team and most importantly be ready to reshape your thinking.

[24]7 offers a workshop during which we share the 20+ key factors that define your digital maturity. We can help your team develop an understanding of the complete model and facilitate an open dialogue among your team to develop a path forward. As I sit in my chair at my desk, I can almost hear my Father now with that stern voice saying something like “Do you know where you are and where you’re going? No? Alright then, I need your sit rep . . . on the double.”

Contributing Editor: Genia Stevens

Improving Customer Experience with Self-Service Options

Self-service options give customers the chance to fulfill their needs through their preferred channel. According to, 60% of customers will change their contact channel based on what they’re doing and where they are. Consumers who would normally call for help may opt for self-service troubleshooting if they’re watching TV or at work, for example. Thanks to location features, language can be adjusted to suit the user’s geographical area, making self-service solutions even more user-friendly.

Benefits to the Contact Center

While self-service is more experience-focused than cost-focused, it still reduces contact center costs and can even help meet financial objectives. Providing customers with self-service solutions gives the brand a competitive edge. Promotional materials can be shown to the customer while they’re searching for information. Cross-selling and up-selling opportunities are optimized. Also, while customers are finding solutions on their own, agents can field high-priority calls.

Self-Service Solutions

1. Community-Shared Information

Customers can see what others are saying and help each other. Apple is known for providing forums for its customers. While paying for Apple support is still an option, a lot of answers can be found in the community forums, even for in-depth issues. This helps customers troubleshoot on their own, without paying any money and without requiring a support agent.

2. Support Ticket Access

The customer can find out the status of their support issue by providing customer information and a ticket number. They can check up on their issue at any time of the day or night.

3. External Knowledge Database

A database of knowledge can product information, FAQs, and manuals. American Express does this by letting customers login to see their personal and account information, as well as tips and strategies for growing a startup.

4. Guided Tours

Tip balloons can walk people through a series of steps. Apps often use this to show new users how to use the app. Icons can be added to the website to direct visitors to use the walk-through guide, and the directions can also be embedded in social media posts, e-mails, and chat sessions. With auto-play features, the guides can start automatically when certain criteria is met. For example, if someone is visiting the website for the first time, they’ll immediately be shown a guided tour.

5. IVR Self-Service

Interactive Voice Response direct callers and capture information used to route calls and present data to agents. A well-scripted IVR) system can provide benefits to customers by offering services, 24/7.  It can also can help to handle high call volumes and enable customers to handle their own simple operations over the phone.

6. Virtual Agents

Virtual Agents empower customers through their journey by simplifying the process of delivering information across multiple interaction channels. Virtual agent technology can be used on an organization’s website, social media presence or mobile platforms.