Weighing the pros and cons of self-service vs. person to person service and the impact they have on consumers and organizations.
What might be a good customer experience for one person might be very different for another. Where some consumers desire person-to-person service, others prefer to get it done, on their own, on their own terms. Many companies recognize this and so, in order to deliver an experience that will satisfy all of their customers, they offer a choice.
Having this choice can be a good thing and can certainly narrow the gap between desired and delivered experiences. But what kind of impact does self-service vs. person-to-person service have on consumers and on organizations?
First, let’s determine what type of consumer you are.
Are you the type who is willing to stand patiently in the check-out line at the grocery store, trying to remain tolerant of the coupon clipper ahead of you or would you rather take matters into your own hands and check yourself out at the self-serve kiosk?
Now, if you are a Millennial, the DIY method is a no-brainer. In fact, Millennials would strongly consider staying in the comfort of their homes and using their laptops to get what they want. The mere thought of waiting in line is incompatible with their fast-paced, always-on lifestyle. Why waste time and fight the crowds when you can order it online, at any time of day and have it delivered to you with just a few clicks?
As for the Generation X group, though relatively smaller in audience and "sandwiched" between the two larger demographic clusters, Millennials and Baby Boomers, they have been exposed to both earlier and newer ways of servicing the customer. They’ve experienced both methods and tend to be content with opting for either option in order to suit their needs.
Ok, so now let’s talk Baby-Boomers. Do you remember when ATMs (first known in Canada as ‘Green Machines’) were introduced? Banks promised quicker, more efficient service through the introduction of a new self-servicing tool called a “bank machine”. Did you excitedly rush to the bank to create your very own PIN number or did you feel a sense of dread of things to come and opted to stick with what you knew, reluctant to adopt this new concept?
Today’s market is made up of a variety of distinct and diverse consumers that possess a myriad of needs and desires. Offering the choice between self-service and person-to-person service is one of the many ways organizations are working to meet the needs of their customers. But is one better than the other? Does convenience trump personalization or vice versa?
In the end, whether you are a Millennial, Gen X or a Baby-Boomer, as we approach 2017, the reality is that satisfaction is readily available via both methods. According to a Gartner survey, by the year 2020, customers will manage 85% of the relationship with organizations on their own, without human interaction.
Millennials prefer self-service, Gen-Xers accept the inevitable and convert accordingly and Baby-Boomers are trying their best to not be left behind, but everyone has a desire for enjoyable customer experiences.
Choice is a good thing for both for the consumer and the organization. What should be kept in mind is that there are benefits and disadvantages for both self-service and person-to-person service. Providing customers a “Channel of Choice” on how they wish to interact with your organization must be top of mind when reviewing your service strategy.
Dolly Konzelmann is the President of Cutting Edjj Consulting (CEC) and The Customer Service Professionals Network (CSPN). With over 20 years in the customer service industry, CEC and CSPN are considered among the most comprehensive consulting, coaching and training companies in Canada. Providing services to organizations of all sizes and public workshops to individuals, CEC and CSPN use a results-based partnership approach to develop and deliver customized solutions that meet an organization’s unique business needs and resolve their most significant issues, helping them to create a lasting competitive advantage. CEC and CSPN are recognized by the HRPA and they offer an array of services including training, consulting, assessment, conferences, studies, networking events and accredited designation programs governed by the Canadian Council of Professional Certification.