It is not unusual to hear companies speak of their desire to provide excellence in customer service. However, the emerging trend in customer service is having you do it yourself! Self-service (also called CX) is an emerging trend in the customer service realm (Shaping Tomorrow). Consider whether you have used any of these self-service options recently:
- Reserve your own ride-time at Disneyland using Fastpass. While you may feel like you are doing this as a means to manage your time, you are actually providing your own services via a digital interface. You are also helping Disney manage their attraction line-ups!
- Check out of your hotel via your television. Many hotels allow you to check-out and review your bill in your own room which allows you to bypass the busy front desk when you leave.
- Check into your flight on-line and print your own boarding pass. While this helps you secure the seat you want, it also helps airlines anticipate no-show rates on high demand flights.
- Rent a movie through your TV remote from your cable service provider.
On a recent trip to Europe, I experienced a few interesting twists on CX:
- Paying for my excess baggage fees prior to my flight. While I could have done so at the airport, I learned that I would save $10 per bag if I did it myself. This is an example of incentivized CX.
- Pre-clearing customs. Our trip through US Immigration & Customs in Chicago began by being directed to a machine. There, I swiped my passport, scanned my fingerprints on a touchpad (no, I am not a criminal!) and declared my goods purchases. I received a printed receipt which was then presented to the traditional customs official. After I cleared customs, I asked him what I should do with the unused blue customs declaration card we filled out on our flight. His reply was, “Throw it away – we don’t ‘use those anymore”.
- Booking our airport taxi using an on-line app. This story did not have a happy ending as the self-service app failed to be able to interact with non-European phone numbers and we had to hail our own taxi in the morning (a great reminder of the dangers of CX!).
Expect significant growth in the CX industry in the next decade. In fact, Shaping Tomorrow states that 70% of us already expect web sites to have self-service functionality (business tip – how often have you experienced frustration searching for this on a web site? How easy is it to find on your site?). Already, over 60% of customers use self-service for their baggage at airports and over 200,000 terminals support ApplePay.
Self-service can make our lives a lot easier. Sometimes!
There is a time and place when we really like self-service (like the hotel key drop-box when we are leaving our hotel in a hurry). There is also times when it can be incredibly frustrating (can you recall the 15 minute phone calls where you press 1 and 2 repeatedly to try to find the service you need?). I believe that successful self-service is based on a simple principle – making your customers life easier or more convenient! In contrast, when self-service is driven by the need to make a company’s life easier I believe it will be prone to fail.
However, when it provides you with an advantage, you will use it. After all, spending less time with an immigration agent is a good thing, isn’t it!?!
Postscript: An hour after posting this I read a related article titled, The UK Wants Nationwide Contactless Travel by 2022. It embodies this concept very well!
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Jeff Suderman is a futurist, professor, consultant and pracademic who works in the field of organizational development. He works with clients to improve leadership, teamwork, organizational alignment, strategy and organizational FutureReadiness. He resides in Palm Desert, California. Twitter: @jlsuderman. Email: email@example.com
Help yourself in the future. Shaping Tomorrow. Retrieved from http://www.shapingtomorrow.com/home/alert/1270950
Photo Source: PBS http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/next/tech/biometrics-and-the-future-of-identification/