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Is Customer Self-Service a Field of Dreams?

Successful customer self-service strategies require an understanding of both the ever-shifting technology curve, as well as the timeless funadamentals which motivate human behavior.

A recent study by Limebridge, an Australian provider of customer experience solutions, highlights both cornerstones to self service success. Limebridge asked 143 cross-industry participants “to assess their delivery and support of self service functions for customers”.

In the key findings, I found a great deal to validate what I’ve been hearing from my colleagues as part of my ongoing indoctrination into the world of push vs. pull delivery of digital documents.  You can read the full report here (24 pages - link removed but quick search will pull it up), or just check out my top takeaways, paraphrased-where-not-quoted for the time-crunched (who’s not?).

The majority of organizations have not:

  • “removed the process barriers that make it hard for customers to use self service."
  • embraced customer interaction mechanisms to support and enhance self-service

To succeed, not only in portal adoption, but also to simultaneously enhance customer experience, organizations:

  • must make “customer adoption easy by reducing the effort for customers in registering for and adopting self-service mechanisms”
  • design self service from the perspective of customer usability
  • “turn on…SMS, email and click-to-chat to enable customers to interact in ways that they expect".

Overall, the study focuses on ease and convenience of use as the key drivers for successful self service initiatives. It recommends eliminating adoption “barriers such as passwords and registration” by leveraging inexpensive and ubiquitous SMS and email channels, which are, as many studies have shown, preferred by customers.

I think this explains why “portal projects” often fail to achieve adoption targets: processes are built to deliver required functionality, with an “if we build it, they will come” mentality that delivered great profits for the aptly named 1989 blockbuster, “Field of Dreams”, but has proved a path of great resistance for today’s über-busy customer.

Organizations should meet customers on their own ground (email inbox) and make the portal journey effortless by removing registration and password requirements. This creates a customer experience that is seamlessly woven into the fabric of customer daily habits. Using a multichannel strategy that maps to customer behavior can turbo charge any self-service initiative.

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This post is from a series of posts in the group:

Innovation in Financial Services

A discussion of trends in innovation management within financial institutions, and the key processes, technology and cultural shifts driving innovation.


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