February 22, 2018
The End of Customer Service is the Beginning of Customer Self-Service

Esteban Kolsky is a well-known customer experience analyst who has worked in and studied the CX industry for many years. In a recent Bluewolf "Beyond the Hype" video series, he talked about the end of customer experience and what needs to change.

You Can't Keep Customers Happy All the Time 

"You can never make customers happy no matter what you try."

Kolsky said that yes, you could make them happy once or twice, or maybe many times, but it only takes one bad experience to destroy all those good experiences. And it will happen, you can make your customers happy all the time.

If you don't focus your efforts on making them happy, then what do you focus on he was asked. "Customer independence." Kolsky said you need to give them the ability to do what they want when they want it, how they want it. If you give them a platform where they never have to engage directly with you, you'll never let them down.

In 2016 Kolsky said that by 2025 customer experience will no longer exist. He is a big proponent of providing customers with the tools they need to self-service. In this video, he talked about how customer service traditionally focused on servicing exceptions only, but with the advent of the service economy, customer service became the go-to response for everything.

When asked why customers expect them to give them the answers they need, Kolsky countered that wasn't what the customer wanted. "They expect the company to help them find the answers." This requires automation, self-service, communities and social networks. That is a big shift in how many companies work today.

What should companies focus their efforts on? Collaborating with customers to give them the products they want and give them access to the information they need to serve themselves.

Providing Self-Service Through the Customer Support Portal 

While we’re not completely sure customer service will be dead in six years, we do understand that changes are happening to the way customers want to interact with companies. They don’t want to spend hours on the phone or wait for emails to answer their questions. They also aren’t afraid to look for their own answers – the Internet has made us all better at finding things.

We see one of the best tools a company can offer its customers is a support portal. Not just any support portal though. Every company has different support processes, runs one or more backend support system and manages product knowledge in different repositories. An out of the box solution isn’t going to work for most companies.

Each company needs to collaborate with its customers to understand how they want their support and service needs met. The company needs to understand how customers search for information, what kinds of support tools they want to use and how they need to work. Introducing customer communities into the mix is also an effective way for customers to get information, interacting with other product users.

Something to keep in mind is that opening the knowledge base to customers isn’t always straightforward. The terminology a customer might use to explain a problem is often different from the terminology the technical or documentation team uses. How content is structured, and how metadata is applied becomes very important, as does the way search both indexes and applies search queries. The knowledge repository (repositories) are often the last thing companies think need work before exposing them to customers, but it can be the most useful self-service tool.

All these tools and knowledge repositories can come together in a customer support portal providing customers one place to go to get the self-service they want. The support portal doesn’t mean customer service goes away; it’s still there to support bigger issues or handle exceptions. But we suspect, and Kolsky certainly is confirming it, that self-service is the right answer for most customers.

Want to learn more about the advantages of customer support portals? Download our Solution Guide for Customer Portals.

Posted by Barb Mosher Zinck
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