E-Handbook: Advanced self-service platforms open new customer frontiers Article 1 of 4

Self-service can be a godsend but also frustrating

There's nothing worse than realizing late at night that you have a credit card payment due, and if payment isn't made by the stroke of midnight, you may suffer the consequences of penalty fees and higher interest rates. Of course, billing offices typically close after 5 p.m., but thankfully self-service payment options are possible online or by phone. Crisis averted.

But then there are other times when self-service is less of a panacea and more of a frustrating experience. Perhaps you'd rather speak to a live agent at the first moment of contact but end up getting lost in the maze of an interactive voice response system. And by the time you actually can talk with a human, you're not in a very good frame of mind.

Self-service platforms are efficient when it comes to simple transactions, such as bill paying, frequently asked questions and password resets, but there are situations that call for a little empathy and the human touch.

Amid predictions by Gartner that 15% of all customer service interactions by 2021 will be handled completely by AI, service and business leaders feel the pressure to adopt digital technology -- including self-service platforms -- to scale resources and enhance the customer experience, according to the Gartner 2019 Agenda Poll. Yet many respondents to the poll also reported difficulty with managing AI technologies.

The three features in this handbook examine the benefits and drawbacks of customer service AI and other self-service platforms. We'll explore what works, why self-service options can fail and where improvements need to be made on the road to providing a more fulfilling customer experience.