8 Reasons Why You Need Better Online Self-Service in 2012

June 21, 2012

Is 2012 the year that virtual assistant technology and other forms of next generation self-service dominate the customer service landscape? Here are 8 reasons why we think it’s time for online self-service to shine… 

1 Your customers PREFER to self-serve, despite what you might think

In their February 2012 article for Forbes.com(1), Harvard Business Review Press authors Frances Frei and Anne Morriss said it best:

“Excellence is being great at the things your customers value most.”

When it comes to online customer service, what customers value most is the ability to self-serve for quick answers to their questions and move on. The preference for self- reliance is strong, and proven.

Corporate Executive Board says 60.4% of surveyed customers attempt to use a company’s web self-service as the first method for resolving their customer service issue.(2) Forrester Research pegs the percentage even higher, at 72%.(3)

[graphic caption] Up to 72% of consumers prefer to go online first to resolve customer service issues(3)

2 You can seriously differentiate your brand with great self-service  

90% of companies surveyed by Forrester Research say that customer service is important to their business, yet only 34% of brands deliver a “good” customer experience.(4)

The vast canyon between what companies say versus what they actually do to provide a positive customer experience is a significant “rhetoric gap.” It’s a tremendous opportunity for companies to leverage online self-service as a differentiation play.

[graphic caption] Approximately 2 out of 3 brands fail to deliver a “good” customer experience(4)

3 The Status Quo Sucks: Most online self-service features just don’t cut it

Diane Clarkson, Analyst, eBusiness and Channel Strategy at Forrester Research, describes the typical online self-service experience as being “too often a barrage of irrelevant information” which customers are forced to navigate, begrudgingly.

Clarkson says the information customers are seeking is usually located somewhere on a web site, but it’s not often easy to find.

Case in point: traditional web site FAQ and Help pages. Forrester Research indicates just 51% of consumers are ultimately satisfied when using these tools.(4)

[graphic caption] FAQ and Help tools fail to satisfy 49% of consumers online(4)

4 Other service channels are just plain expensive

Corporate Executive Board’s position is that there are huge cost savings in building out web self-service. It’s a position that’s impossible to argue against, given the generally accepted numbers. On average, a web self-service transaction cost $0.10 per transaction, while a live call can cost $7.50 and beyond.(2)

In addition to the direct costs, however, is the opportunity cost of lost revenue when your online self-service lets a customer down.

[graphic caption] Web self-service costs $0.10 per transaction versus $7.50 for a live support call(2)

 5 Poor online experiences cause customers to defect – and take revenue dollars with them

On the Internet, where alternatives and competitors are always just one click away, a poor self-service experience also impacts top line revenue.

A significant portion of customers – as much as 25%, according to Forrester Research – will simply abandon a web site or find another solution if they can’t find what they are looking for.(5)

[graphic caption] 1 in 4 frustrated customers abandon or defect(5)

6 Thanks to social media, customers can publically expose your online service shortcomings in seconds

With social media, it’s now easy, tempting, and increasingly common for customers to publically flame organizations that let them down.

A survey conducted in 2011 by NM Incite (a Neilson/McKinsey company) found that 51% of social media users post negative feedback.(6)

Interestingly, social media expert Jay Baer points out that public gripes tend to be about the experience with the particular customer service channel. “In almost every case, the people complaining on Twitter are doing so because your company already failed to satisfy them in one or more traditional customer service channels,” Baer explains.

[graphic caption] 51% of social media users post negative feedback(6)

7 A satisfied customer is more likely to be a loyal customer – so its time to get self-service right

Kate Legget, Senior Analyst, Business Process at Forrester Research, says a satisfied customer correlates to a loyal customer, and this correlation can have a direct impact on the bottom line for your company.

“Loyal customers are more likely to stay true to your brand and more likely to recommend your company to friends and colleagues,” Legget explained in the March 29, 2012 IntelliResponse webinar, The New Way to Measure Online Self-Service. “And a loyal customer ends up spending a larger wallet share over their engagement lifetime with a company.”

[graphic caption] Customer satisfaction positively impacts loyalty and wallet share (4)

8 The rise of mobile devices means self-service is more important than ever to consumers

Consumer desire to stay connected has reached epic proportions. More than three quarters of the world’s population (5.3 Billion people) are mobile subscribers.(7)

Non-Internet enabled phones have all but disappeared in developed countries. And the surging popularity of digital tablet devices are predicted to outpace PC sales by 2015.(8)

[graphic caption] 77% of the world’s population are mobile subscribers(7)

Is Your Online Self-Service Up to Par?

All 8 of these reasons point to one truth: your company’s success in terms of the customer experience will be largely won or lost online. Effective web self-service is the cornerstone of these online service interactions.

How does your web site measure up? Find out by taking the Forrester/IntelliResponse Online Self-Service Assessment Survey. To get started, book your FREE evaluation of your organization’s web self-service capabilities by sending an email to eval@intelliresponse.com


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1 http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesleadershipforum/2012/03/02/to-offer-great-customer-service-dare-to-be-bad/

2 http://cccbuzz.exbdblogs.com/2012/03/13/three-reasons-to-show-your-support-page-a-little-love/
3 “Selecting Online Customer Service Channels To Satisfy Customers And Reduce Costs”, Forrester Research Inc., June 25, 2010, 4 “The New Way to Measure Online Self-Service,” Forrester Research Inc.-IntelliResponse (Webinar), March 29, 2012
5 “Web Sites That Don’t Support Customers’ Goals Waste Millions”, Forrester Research Inc., February 17, 2010
6 http://www.nmincite.com/?p=6051
7 http://www.onlinemarketing-trends.com/2011/12/53-billion-mobile-users-reach-77-of.html
8 http://techcrunch.com/2010/06/17/forrester-tablets-outsell-netbooks/


About IntelliResponse Systems

IntelliResponse enhances the multi-channel sales and customer service capabilities of hundreds of enterprise businesses and financial institutions. The company’s Answer Suite technology is an award-winning On Demand software platform that allows customers and service agents to ask questions in natural language, and get one right answer – regardless of the hundreds of ways the question may be asked.

With more than 500 live customer-facing implementations answering 100 million+ questions, IntelliResponse is the gold standard in first line customer experience management. With the IntelliResponse Answer Suite, your company web site, mobile application, social media channels and agent desktop can all be transformed by an engaging virtual concierge, empowering customers to ask questions using normal, conversational language. The correct and complete answer is then instantly served to them in a variety of engaging ways.

For more information about IntelliResponse, visit www.IntelliResponse.com.

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