Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Effectiveness of Self-service: Are you lovin' it?

Theme: Self-service has traditionally had a major impact on the business efficiency (by reducing costs). But now it is being widely adopted by businesses as a means to increase the effectiveness, by enhancing the user experience. Learn what has been happening and some useful information in the notes below.

When I first heard the term Self-service, the vision that popped-up in my mind was that of the Big M. Que-up, pay for the goodies, pick up the tray, lug it across to a table (if you can find one), and don't forget to dump the tray in the bin when done....

This vision sure has E F F I C I E N C Y ..written all across it. Efficiency for the Big M. Convenience? Sure, convenient for me to some extent. It's fast, isn't it? Else who would call it fast food? Gives me loads of pleasure going through the exercise? Umm... not really.
So the message is - if there is no other choice, if I want convenience right now, because [I'm in a hurry] [I'm not really hungry] [My wallet is screaming..time for refill] (pick your choice), then Big M is the choice.

Else what? What if I'm looking for effectiveness? Like impressing my girlfriend, taking a business contact out for lunch, trying to multi-task my lunch through that business report... then Big M will miss me.

In Customer Interactions, Self-service comes up either in Web transactions (Net banking, E-tickets, FAQs..); or Voice transactions - the classic DTMF IVR that everyone knows and has endured. Equate the Customer Interaction Center to the McCustomer IC; and all the corresponding scenarios will again have the same 10 alphabets written across them, in bold .. Please don't consume my Call Center Agents Mr. Customer, fumble your way through the Web and/or IVR Mr. Customer, and we will reward you with some extra [Frequent Flier miles] [Credit Card reward points] [A surprise gift?] [..], because you saved us some money.

What about effectiveness? What if businesses gave an overwhelming experience to their Customers ? That of doing transactions for which they earlier required live agents? But transactions they can now effect through Self-service, without waiting in a que listening to promotional messages, and getting irritated in the process? Processes that the Customers will cherish for their Effectiveness...

Think again. The E-ticket example I quoted under Efficiency was actually the wrong'un, and my compliments if you - the alert reader - spotted the Effectiveness part of it. E-ticketing is convenient AND effective for me. For one, in these days of 128 bit encryption security, I'm not allowing any human to read my Credit Card details, and I'm getting the E-ticket right here, ready to be printed. Makes me want to do it with loads of pleasure - my definition of effectiveness.

Sample the following similar processes you can create on the IVR to have "effective" voice Self-service:

  • Reset password
  • Lodge Insurance claims
  • Effect address change
  • Mobile phone activation (Remember the "Lara" persona of Vodafone in Customer Interaction Center: Business context)
  • Obtain stock quotes
  • Trade stocks
  • Pay bills
  • Fill up forms
  • Schedule appointments
  • ...... (Continue creating your own list)

Three to five years back, I would have been conferred the Man Booker Prize for creating the above fictional points. Today with the power of Speech Recognition, many more in addition to the above, have become solid reality.

The reality of creating a true Win-Win situation. The reality that affords the Businesses to create the Efficiency-Effectiveness balance. The reality to create The Effective Experience (TEE).

[Even managed to add effectiveness in my experience...(well, for my daughter really... so naturally even I'm lovin' it). The ambience / play-land / Ronald / McToys.... are all TEE for my daughter, and compels us to visit the Big M.] (Tip: Simply enabling old processes with Self-service is not TEE. TEE needs to be created afresh).

Which processes are you going to create afresh and put on your speech enabled Self-service? TEE off in the right direction... The course begins.

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3 comments:

Sam Aparicio said...

I agree with much of what you say. In my experience, approaching the "what should I implement as self-service" question from a cost savings perspective only leads to bad results.

It's about creating a different (and better) experience, one that is driven by one of these factors:

* An IVR can do it better: for example, if you're calling a company to change your address, it is much more likely that an agent will get the address wrong than if the address is based on a lookup and online validation while the customer is on the call.

* The customer would rather not talk to an agent: for example, they are asking for something embarrassing, or are self-aware of their language skills, or simply don't want to be bothered. In this post I talk about that phenomenon in the context of AOL account cancellation

* The task is one that could not be executed on a timely manner by a human. For example, call me at 4am to let me know that my 6am flight is delayed due to bad weather.

The key here is also that you don't really know unless you try. Who would have thought that we would agree to carry our own trays to the trash after the McD meal? But we do.

Rajas said...

Sam:

Thank you so much for your apt comments. I see that you have most insightful observations both on my post, and more so on your own blog.

I assure you that you will see more of me on your site, and hopefully make appropriate noises (read comments!)..

Hope to see you around, and enlighten us with your pertinent comments.

-- Rajas

Rajas said...

Sam:

Thank you so much for your apt comments. I see that you have most insightful observations both on my post, and more so on your own blog.

I assure you that you will see more of me on your site, and hopefully make appropriate noises (read comments!)..

Hope to see you around, and enlighten us with your pertinent comments.

-- Rajas