The new face of customer service has completely evolved from what it used to be a few years back; customers standing in long lines to pay bills, staying on hold over the line to speak to a customer agent and hoping to hear back from an operator within a number of business days.
In this new era of customer service, connectivity and instant response have become the needs of the customers, who have tons of service options to switch between, hence creating cutting throat competition for businesses.
Customers these days treat time as money and are anxious for customer agents to instantly resolve problems at their ends and be solution providers. Self service has many aspects to it that are examples of optimized customer service, which give the customer more control in their hands than ever.
Recently news about Dubai starting self service at the petrol stations has given customer service a new face in UAE and given them an option of filling in their petrol tanks themselves. Enoc stations will be providing self service from midnight till 6 am.
We have been modernizing and updating our systems to facilitate self-service at 10 service stations,” said Burhan Al Hashemi, managing director of Enoc retail. “We will also extend support to customers in the initial days to familiarize them with fuel dispensing.”
This just shows how customer service has started to take its turn towards self service and different markets and cultures have started to implement it. Self service is incorporated by businesses in many ways, from online stores to airports and even the traditional
“brick and mortar” stores.
Let’s have a look at some of the common self service options we get and tend to take them for granted on ignore the real customer service that’s exists behind them.
The numbers of global passengers that will be travelling by 2030 are expected to double, hence creating a customer service challenge in the aviation industry especially. Major airports around the world are now looking into incorporating self-service to great percentage in their services since it will help the operations run more smoothly and passengers will save time and hassle as well, making their experience a comfortable one.
Many companies now have the option of providing customers with self-service, from printing out their boarding pass to even checking out. Kiosks are displayed near different airline counters, where customers can simply enter their code or ticket number and get a boarding pass printed with all their details on it and they are ready to fly, without having to worry about standing in long lines.
“Self-service can play an important role for airports in increasing operational efficiency, while reducing costs and boosting customer satisfaction,” agrees Hani El Assaad, president of SITA Middle East, India & Africa.
“This includes reducing time spent in queues, being provided with up-to-date information on flight and gate changes and personalizing their whole travel experience”, adds Assaad
Research shows that passengers are more likely and happier to use customer service if it provides them with convenience and saves time, in the busy, hustle bustle of the airports and its crowd. SITA conducted two global surveys to observe the keenness of passengers and airports to incorporate the use of self-service- the Passenger Self-Service Survey and the Airport IT Trends Survey. The results of both the surveys showed the keenness of passengers and airports being happy in adopting more self-service
Luggage can also be checked in with entering how many luggage pieces a passenger has on them and their ticket details, to which the kiosks print out their e- tags. This kind of self service is appreciated by the customers who are always on the go and are comfortable with using the self service medium. It saves them time from standing in long lines and waiting for the airline officer to issue them a pass.
It might seem obvious to some viewers that website is self-service already, so how does it optimize customer service in today’s age. Well it saves the customer from the hassle of going to the actual shop and spending so much time.
All the customer has to do is log on to a website, say Amazon, look for what they want and simply purchase it. However along with this, customers now get the option of viewing what other customers are buying and even getting ideas of how to pair their purchase with another item to optimize their service. Customers are given the choice to make their decision by themselves and decide independently; self serving themselves and they simply purchase whatever they are interested in.
Smart phones have added a lot of advantage to the customers getting optimized customer service and even being enabled for self-service. Your smart phone lets you get any information you would like, be it buying the right laptop, buying shares, or even getting the map to get some place yourself and understand your bank statement without having to go to the bank.
This is real self service, where you ticket comes right onto your phone, and so do instructions on how to set up your brand new TV. You don’t need to call the customer service representative any more. All you have to do is go to the website or even find your answers on the internet and you are ready to go.
Not just that you can use your smart phone technology sitting in at your home and book your flights, or even select the meals you want and choose the seat you would like to sit on, all at the touch of a button. These smart phones let you customize your travel, making self-service an extremely convenient and accessible service for everyone.
This is not only useful for the passenger but also useful for airports, since they don’t have to worry about the high number of customer queries or even check-ins and boarding pass problems, since the self-service that is provided through these smart phones let you do a mobile check – in, mobile boarding passes and even inform you of news related to the status of your flight etc.
This might sound ironic, about why does staff need to be trained for customers who are opting self service, because that is the first reason they want it, independence. But the problem can arise when say a customer does not understand how to use the system or need help with it. In situations like these the staff won’t be able to address a solution, or even understand the problem in worst case scenario. So it is necessary that your customer service team is well equipped with answers and tricks on how to go about using the self service medium.
Companies need to understand that providing self service is not where the deal ends, but rather where it starts. Equipping customers with the choice of using customer service, always should remain a choice and sure become compulsory. Customers should have the choice of interchanging between channels and being able to do it smoothly.
Customer should always have the choice of choosing self-service and if unsatisfied, there must be a customer service representative to take care and handle the issue at the customers end. This brings us to the effectible interlinking of mediums.
If a customer is being served through the email, they should be able to take the problem to the website, say talk to a live chat representative or even calling the customer support line.
The customer’s information should be linked with all mediums that he can use to enter the business and they should all be updated on the go so the customer doesn’t have to worry about sharing the whole informational over again and finding shifting lanes a big trouble.
No matter how fancy the business or how well they are doing, in order to provide self service it is extremely necessary that the service is easy to understand and use. The usability of that service needs to be high in comparison to all the extra add-ons it has that come with it. A self service option will not result to be successful if it fails to create convenience for the customer and instead takes up all his or her time in trying to use the service.
There is no way your company will excel if you create a solution of self service and then leave it at that. It is necessary that you constantly keep checking it, focusing on its progress and trying to update it. This will let you sort out any loop holes or glitches that come your way and you can keep tweaking the system till it gets to its maximum best. The goal is to be able to make the customer independent and in control.
Despite the fact that self-service is on a rise and customers are becoming powerful independent actives where there have become their own service provider, there are still many customers who demand the human touch. Multiple customers feel that it is easy to have a person assist you and guide you through in real time, rather than them having to do it for themselves, since they are unsure if they are doing it correctly.
Businesses should keep a close focus on loop holes in the service design, which could make customers unsure about the service, and or demand the help of a sales person or a representative who will be there to assist them on every step.
The basic point is that you should create a self service which empowers your customers to help themselves instead of wanting to get in touch with the team constantly and not being able to make quick solutions or cater to their own needs independently.
What is the point of self service kiosks when the customer has to wait till the representative comes and helps them out how it works? The whole essence is to save time and let the customer assist themselves and get their work going.
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