How Customers Move Through the Five Layers of Self-Service

This blog post was co-authored by Genesys technology partner, MindTouch.

The average customer has endless sources of information available to them. That’s why most customers choose self-service first, preferring to find the answer themselves by reaching for the nearest internet-enabled device.

But the starting points for these customer self-service journeys are as infinite as the amount of available information. Regardless of how and when the journey begins, all customers move through the five layers of self-service.

Defining the Five Layers of Self-Service

  1. External Search

The majority of self-service experiences start with a search engine. Eighty-seven percent of smartphone users start with a search. For many, querying a search engine is the fastest way to gain access to a variety of information — from a variety of sources — to quickly answer a question or resolve an issue.

In addition, a search is device-agnostic, meaning users can search Google on a smartphone, laptop, tablet or through a voice assistant. However, many customers abandon these searches when there’s a lack of relevant or branded search results. Or when there’s a presence of superior — or more numerous — search results from competitors and third parties.

  1. Branded Website

The next step is to visit a brand’s website in search of authoritative information. A customer can arrive at a brand’s website from either search engine results or the direct URL. Once on the site, they’ll perform click navigation or site search to locate the information they need.

These users will abandon a brand’s website for three reasons:

  • Poor site speed
  • Poor navigational experience
  • Inability to find content
  1. Chatbots and Conversational Interfaces

A customer service chatbot experience often is the last line of defense before a customer picks up the phone or sends an email. Customers usually initiate a chat once they’re on a branded website. The lack of relevant self-service content in the previous layers makes this step necessary.

But there are three main reasons customers abandon automated chatbot interfaces:

  • Slow, inaccurate responses
  • Irrelevant, impersonal content
  • Being led to “dead ends” that don’t answer a question or provide a solution
  1. Live Chat or Email

A customer might already interact with an automated chatbot that then escalates the case to a live-agent chat. The customer might also initiate a live chat directly. If a live chat isn’t available (if it’s outside of regular businesses hours, for example), the user will send an email.

Customers abandon a live chat when:

  • An agent is unresponsive or lacks knowledge
  • An agent forces the customer to repeat questions or information
  • They’re unable to resolve the issue
  • The customer needs escalation to another tier of service or support
  • Live chat is unavailable, and the customer doesn’t want to write an email
  1. Talking to an Agent

A live call to the contact center is usually the last resort for customers. They call in because the previous layers of self-service failed to resolve their issue or they’ve skipped those layers because of a lack of confidence in their effectiveness.

Customers abandon calls to the contact center for these reasons:

  • Waiting on hold too long
  • Multiple call transfers and escalations
  • Having to repeat information or try resolutions multiple times
  • Lack of agent knowledge

Overcoming Frustrating Self-Service Experiences

The five layers of self-service are ranked in order of effort. Customers only move to the next layer of self-service when absolutely necessary. As customers move through these layers, their effort levels increase. The chance that they’ll abandon the channel — or the journey — also increases. This can be costly to the bottom line, to customer loyalty and to the overall brand perception.

Content — or a lack thereof — is common to each layer. And that specifically includes self-service content. It’s what customers seek each step of the way, whether they know it or not. They want timely and digestible content that’s relevant to their issues. This puts a spotlight on your ability to surface the right content throughout the self-service journey. And knowledge management platforms make this possible.

For more information on Genesys AppFoundry partner MindTouch, visit their app listing on the AppFoundry Marketplace.

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