Pointing customers towards a Self-Service option can result in a speedy service and satisfied customer, but breaching a tipping point will result in chaos for customers.
Efforts to automate customer support mean that many Service Desks have made the process of gaining help painful. It starts with the website which forces customers to scan through a long menu of common questions before even offering a phone number. It continues with the complex phone menu trying to direct people to either a recorded solution or perhaps a different department. Even when the call is connected, the customer is greeted by a scripted “hello” which tries to pre-empt the problem by asking a series of leading questions before the customer has a chance to speak.
At this point, the interaction is too long and loaded. A simple “how can I help” is not only refreshing for the customer, it is often the fastest way to resolve the issue. Service Desk staff are happier because they are not forced to work in an automated way and feel trusted to deliver support. Customers are more relaxed because they are able to simply ask the question, which will mean they are more likely to engage in a conversation which allows the Service Desk to deliver other services and support.
Automation and Self-Service are essential for any Service Desk because they perform the dual role of reducing the support burden while offering a rapid solution to customer problems. But a line must be drawn to ensure that service doesn’t become too impersonal and the customer left in chaos.