Odds are that your company has some form of self-service support in place. Hope so! By some estimates, 71% of customers prefer to solve customer service issues on their own. And a failure to deliver on that preference can be costly.

The question is, why do customers prefer self-service? What is it about low-effort self-service that’s so attractive to consumers? And what motivates customers to use or lose customer self-service channels?

Customers prefer self-service because: ice cream

Access to smartphones has fundamentally changed our relationships with information and companies. Once upon a time, information and answers resided solely in the hands of companies. Now, everything we need is in our pockets—any time, anywhere.

By some estimates, more than 60% of searches now come from mobile devices. What is it about this kind of snap-of-the-fingers self-service customers seem to fancy?

The answer is in the ice cream. Think about it: people don’t want to wait ten minutes in the hot hot sun for the ice cream man to dole out a single scoop of half-melted vanilla. They want to be able to walk up to an all-you-can-eat ice cream dispenser whenever they want, however many times they want and pull whatever flavor they want.

Like the advent of self-serve ice cream (a miracle!), our smartphones have trained us to expect three things in life: timeliness, convenience, and control. And it’s these expectations that explain the growing preference for customer self-service.

Driving Better CX with Knowledge Management

Learn how an organization’s content propels better customer self-service.

1. Timeliness

Soon just takes too long these days. This attitude extends beyond teens and twenty-somethings: as consumers grow more accustomed to just-in-time information, they will continue to expect everything in life to be fast and immediate.

Which would you choose: phone and email support that might take an hour or online self-service that might take a few minutes? More often than not, the choice is clear, and customers will choose the lowest-effort self-service options with extreme prejudice.

2. Convenience

Customers now expect support around the clock. Why be beholden to a company’s operating hours when online self-service is just a Google search away? And why pick up the phone or craft an email when I can holler “Hey Alexa” and get an answer in seconds?

3. Control

With email and phone support, the customer gives up some control to the company. Let’s face it: who knows how long a call will take, or how many times you’ll be transferred or have to repeat yourself? With self-service, customers have options. They could watch a video, read a short knowledge base article, or even query an automated chatbot. Point is: self-service puts customers in the driver’s seat.

RELATEDHow Customers Move Through the Five Layers of Self-Service

Online self-service is the gift that keeps on giving

The shift towards online self-service should have companies celebrating in the streets. Unlike call centers and email support, doing online self-service well transforms support and product knowledge into a gift that keeps on giving to you and your customers.

Customers prefer self-service because they would rather take support into their own hands than spend time on a phone call. Most questions don’t justify the time spent waiting on the phone or for email when a quick Google search could answer it. By creating the best possible online self-service experience, one that is built for how customers interact with information, you’re setting your company and your customers up for success.

Additional categories: Customer Experience, Customer Support