Self Service vs Talking to a Live Agent: The Pros and Cons of Customer Service Options

By Monica Kohn   |   September 19, 2017
Self Service vs Talking to a Live Agent The Pros and Cons of Customer Service Options
Self-service customer service options can be efficient and beneficial for your company and your customers. Customers find resolutions to issues quickly without waiting for a live agent and your company realizes cost savings. However, should self-service replace the option of talking to a live agent?

There are times when a live agent can produce greater results. All customer service options have pros and cons.

Designing Efficient Customer Service Options

Designing an appropriate self-service system takes knowledge and skill to deliver a satisfying customer experience. You must ensure the system is designed to produce quick, accurate responses, which will improve your first interaction resolution (FIR) rates. You will need a deep analysis of your customer’s needs and wants to achieve the right channels to offer your customers: IVR, live chat, dynamic FAQs, SMS, and more.

For instance, if asking for directions is the most common request, then obviously this option should be high on the IVR menu. If your customer base is weighted heavily with the mobile savvy generation who prefer to use their smartphone or tablet, messaging may be the efficient choice. But, if your customer has a more complex issue, talking to a live agent is the appropriate option and you risk having an unhappy customer if they become trapped in an automated loop.

The Importance of Live Representatives

A customer with a complex issue will need a live agent who has access to a well-designed system that intuitively provides information that will help resolve the issue quickly.

Along with a highly innovative call center system, agent training should focus on how to identify and resolve customer problems efficiently. This is where a live agent can easily outperform self-service options. With comprehensive knowledge of your company’s products and services, the agent can hone in on the correct resolution promptly.

Intelligent routing can be a helpful feature, although it also has the potential to negatively impact customer service ratings. When designed well, your customer will be connected to the correct agent to deal with the issue. When designed poorly, your customer may not understand the options, become frustrated and simply press zero to get any representative. You want them to reach a skilled agent ready to address their specific problem, not get transferred between departments.

Another key feature of a well-designed system is the CRM connectors that provide agents with a customer’s transaction history and other past data. This saves time on both ends and leads to a more personalized approach.

As self-service options improve with innovative technology, your customers may embrace those choices more frequently. However, many consumers simply prefer to have a live agent regardless of the issue. Intelligently balancing self-service channels with live representative engagement will improve your overall customer service metrics.