What are some best practices for deploying online self-service technology effectively? How can we use self-service technology to improve the customer experience?

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Back in 1979 the trade press was full of dire predictions about how automatic teller machines (ATMs) were never going to fly, because people wouldn't want to interact with a kiosk when they could choose to have a teller. But of course, people love ATMs. Why? Because they can be everywhere, not just in bank branches. They're available at all times of the day, wherever, whenever you need them. Normally, you don't even have to stand in line to use one.

People love serving themselves rather than waiting for someone to serve them, and they actually see an improvement in their own customer experience. So, when we look at some best practices for deploying customer self-service technology, in every case, take the customer's point of view into consideration. Imagine yourself in their shoes and say to yourself, what will it take for this to work better for the customer? The answer is always going to be in terms of speed, convenience, ease of use and not having to do the same thing twice -- making it easier for them to do it for themselves than it would be for them to be taken care of by a live person.

I'd also like to suggest that when customers take care of themselves and provide their own self-service, they're giving us a ton of information. For example, some banks just swallow the information received through the ATM and simply serve people right away without taking any note of what a customer is teaching. Or, you could do what ING Europe does. If someone asks for cash but they are short the cash in the account, that person is a perfect candidate for a line of credit offer. So, the ATM checks the credit rating of that customer and automatically sends that person an offer for a line of credit. In that way, they get a better than 50% positive response rate. So, not only is that person able to get good self-service at the ATM, but the bank is able to learn things to help them provide even better service for the customer and greater profitability for the bank.


Hear more in Creating Customer Value, a SearchCRM.com monthly podcast series with Peppers and Rogers.

This was first published in May 2009

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