Let’s consider two scenarios: In the first one, which takes place in the Stone Age, a customer has a problem with your widget. She dials your toll-free number on her stone phone, and the call center rep (who’s wearing a loincloth because it’s casual Friday) spends valuable time walking the customer through the process of hooking up the widget.
In the second scenario, you have a customer who has a problem with your widget. She surfs over to your Web site and clicks on the FAQ section located in a prominent place on your home-page. The first few FAQs in the list are the most common ones, and she finds her answer there. But she still doesn’t quite understand the widget hooking-up procedure (you can tell because she’s reloaded the FAQ page several times), so one of your contact center reps initiates a quick Web-based chat.
Welcome to the modern world of Web self-service, where your customers and prospects get all the product and troubleshooting information they need right on your Web site without having to pick up the phone. Companies institute Web self-service for any of three reasons:
1. To enhance customer service. Many customers don’t want to spend time waiting on hold and then trying to describe their problem to a stranger who may or may not have the answer. They would rather go to your Web site and quickly find the solution to their problem.
2. To save money. It’s simple: When a customer is serving himself, you don’t have to pay someone else to do it.
3. To make money. “I found that if you look at the typical customer life cycle in the B-to-B world, you go from marketing to sales to service,” says John Ragsdale, vice president of the Service & Support Professionals Association. “But in the consumer world, it’s different: It goes from marketing to service to sales. With Web self-service, you’re helping consumers get the information they need to close the deal.”