Self-Service is Only Part of the Answer…

This blog post is about how self-service has changed our lives and the importance of combining self-service with traditional customer support for the best success.

A conversation I had this week got me thinking a lot about how much self-service has impacted our day-to-day lives. When we need to go to the bank, most people aren’t going to the teller to deposit their checks or withdraw cash – they are using an ATM. When we visit the grocery store for a few extra items on a week night to make dinner, most people aren’t going to get in a line with a store cashier to purchase just a few items – they’re using the self-serve machines. When we need a pick-me-up from a popular coffee chain, we are now given the option to order our coffee from a mobile device and skip to the front of the line. 

Most recently, some convenience stores don’t even have cashiers or checkout lines – you just get what you need and leave! Computers track your every move in the store and complicated algorithms add and remove things from your digital checkout as you add and remove them from your physical shopping cart. This is all in the name of self-service. 

Self-service is great for your average transaction! 

We get what we want, customized exactly to our liking, and we often get it faster than we would have normally. Self-service is certainly the wave of the future and technology has made it easier and faster than ever to complete the most basic transactions that would have otherwise meant wasting your time waiting in a line. 

However, self-service is only part of the answer. When your car breaks down or your bank account gets overdrawn, you can’t and don’t rely on a self-service mechanic or an automated teller machine to fix your problem. 

You see, self-service cannot fulfill all of our needs. The human element is almost a necessary evil at this point in today’s society. We feel that a human on the other end of the phone is better, more calming, and easier to work with than a machine when it comes to dealing with issues or problems. I could not tell you the number of times I have yelled into my phone, “Speak to a representative!” 

We not only crave the connection with other humans, but often humans can explain things in a way that no machine ever could and solve problems that no machine is capable of… yet. We are in the age of self-service, but we are a long ways away from artificial intelligence. 

As a member of the training team for Status Solutions, I see the absolute necessity self-service training presents for our customers and partners every day. 

Our customers are better off when they can serve their own needs on their own time, thus better serving the needs of the patients, students, or staff members in their care. Our partners are better able to support customers and provide technical guidance and assistance when they have the tools they need to succeed in the form of self-service training. 

Self-service training provides a way to learn and be taught subject matter that replicates traditional classroom style training with an instructor and a guide book. But it cannot be looked at as the answer to all of our problems. It can, however, provide significantly better outcomes and significantly better situational awareness for our customers. 

Our strategy around self-service cannot be so short-sighted that we think self-service applications will solve our every problem. But we also cannot be so naïve to think that self-service is just a “fad” that will be replaced in a few years by another craze. It is only with an approach that contains both self-service and traditional customer service with real people that we find the mix that is right for our customers.

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