Beyond Self-Service Deflection

Beyond Self-Service Deflection

BLOG

Beyond Self-Service Deflection

The use of deflection as a basis to justify investments in Self-Service fosters an expectation that it is only capable of reducing costs. The fact is that Self-Service delivers more tangible benefits that can strengthen relationships with customers and enhance Support’s ability to fulfill its primary mission to help customers use and apply products.

Beyond Self-Service Deflection

Deflection is a convenient indicator and well aligned to the desire to scale Support and reduce delivery costs. Deflection does not, however, inform about the impact of our Self-Services on strengthening customer relationships.

Why is the technology services industry obsessed with deflection and overly focused on cost reduction as a target benefit?  This is due in part to the legacy of Support and the persistent belief that Support is a necessary evil and a costly burden to the company.

The reality is that Support accounts for the largest single touchpoint with customers and is the cornerstone of any strategy to retain customers.

Deflection does not need to be dropped as a metric. When considering future investments in Support — such as additional staffing or technologies to help scale delivery capacity — look at both the cost reduction and revenue potential.

Making Deflection Savings Real

When 20% of case demand is deflected from assisted support channels, it does not necessarily translate to actual savings until companies take action to reduce the cost of delivering support.

Few companies are likely to reduce Support headcount by 20% due to deflection.  Companies may, however, curtail future Support staff expansion or reallocate some of the hours of existing staff to alternative activities. Deflection of case volume from assisted support channels is real, but the actual savings are seldom reflected in the accounting ledger. Actual savings can only be realized when action is taken to reduce the cost of delivering support.

How to Move Beyond Self-Service Deflection

It is time to move beyond the assumption that avoiding an assisted support interaction is an effective indicator of our ability to scale Support.  We need to know with certainty that the knowledge, self-help, and automation we provide delivers the answers and insights customers need.

To move beyond deflection, we need to reassess the returns we expect from our investments in capturing and sharing knowledge to scale Support.  We should focus on the following tenets of Support performance:

  • Customers receive the information and insights they need to overcome an issue or defect and/or help installing, configuring, using, and applying your products.
  • A quality answer is provided at the lowest possible cost.
  • A quality answer is provided in the fastest possible time.

Scaling Support

Although Self-Service is used widely across the industry, only 20% of companies cite it as a primary factor for reducing support demand. This suggests that even when Self-Service is offered, overall support demand does not decline, although the percent of support demand handled by support staff is likely to be reduced. This is not to suggest that Self-Service is not worthwhile. It cannot, however, be the only investment Support organizations make to reduce demand.

For additional strategies to scale support, get the ServiceXRG whitepaper: Four Imperatives for Scaling Support.

 

Ready to define the strategic role of your self-service initiatives?

We’re here to help you get the answers you need.

Reach out anytime to get answers and insights about the best ways to define and measure the effectiveness of self-service initiatives. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time to talk.

Reduce your Support delivery costs.
Give your high-value customers the attention they deserve.

Exclusive ServiceXRG White Paper:

Self-Service Deflection — Maximizing the Use and Effectiveness of Self-Help and Automation

Download the ServiceXRG whitepaper, "Ensuring a Successful Journey to Customer Success"

Related Articles

Maximizing the Return on Your Support Knowledge Base

The Support organization encompasses extensive experience and expertise about how to use and apply products. Access to this Support knowledge is the primary reason customers contact Support. This article explains how companies can maximize the return on the creation and distribution of Support knowledge.

read more

Beyond Self-Service Deflection

The use of Self-Service deflection as a basis to justify investments in Self-Service fosters an expectation that it is only capable of reducing costs. This article explains why Self-Service is vital to a successful service strategy and delivers benefits well-beyond cost reduction.

read more

Six Steps to Measure Self-Service Deflection

Self-Service deflection is the rate at which self-help and automated resources satisfy customers’ service demands that would otherwise be handled by assisted service staff. This article introduces a concise definition for self-service deflection and lays out six steps to reliably measure this metric.

read more

Self-Service Deflection Performance Trends

Self-Service deflection has averaged 22.2%. In 2020 self-help deflection stood at 19.8%. The industry trend for deflection has sloped down (-.5%) during the last decade. This article provides a historic view of deflection trends from 2010 to 2020.

read more

The State of Self-Service Tech Support

Self-service is essential for companies meet growing support demand but should not be the only strategy companies rely on to scale support delivery. This article assesses the state of self-service tech support and examines the use of self-help and service automation.

read more

Seven Critical Steps for Successful Service Delivery Automation

Seven Critical Steps for Successful Service Delivery Automation

Automation of Technical Support or Customer Success functions may yield great returns, yet some service activities can be difficult to replicate with systems. Automate what you can, but don’t over automate.

Cost Efficiency and Effectiveness Through Automation

The goal of any service organization must be to achieve the optimal balance between cost efficient service transactions and comprehensive customer engagement that drives customer success.  Automation of Technical Support or Customer Success functions may yield great returns, yet some service activities can be difficult to replicate with systems.

The key to achieving this balance is in the approach a service organization takes to truly understand customer needs and formulating the most cost-effective ways to respond.  Effective customer engagement may require a high rate of live assistance (personal-touch). Over time as the knowledge of customer issues is captured and the tools to help customers express their needs are available, service transactions can become increasingly automated (tech-touch).

Seven Critical Steps for Successful Service Delivery Automation

Here are 7 steps to consider for successful service automation:

1.    Define and document key service delivery processes.

Establish which processes are conducive to automation.

2.    Establish the Appropriate Level of Automation

Establish how much automation is appropriate for customer interactions. Factors should include the level of intimacy desired for customer transactions, they ability for customer to use automated systems and the availability of tools to successfully support automation.

3.    Evaluate Available Technologies

Technology is the enabler of service automation. Identify the technologies that can provide the capabilities necessary to deliver a satisfying customer experience.

4.    Focus on Content

Service automation is about understanding what customers need and providing them with an effective solution. Service automation relies on the technologies that facilitate the service delivery processes as well as the underlying knowledge and expertise that customers seek. Content development is a critical factor in service automation success.

5.    Define and Measure Success

Determine how successful automation will be measured.  Are you seeking cost efficiencies, revenue growth, service level performance or a target customer satisfaction rate?  Be clear about your desired outcomes with careful attention to optimizing the right balance between multiple performance objectives.

6.    Treat this as a Journey

Service automation and the creation of self-service offerings is an ongoing effort to identify ways to provide customers with the resources they need quickly and efficiently. An ongoing commitment to analyze performance and allocate resources is essential to maximizing the benefits of automating the service experience.

7.    Don’t Over Automate

Automate service transactions and processes but do not try to use automation as a surrogate for sustaining a customer relationship.  Sometimes direct personal interaction is essential.

Automating Service Delivery

This topic is explored in further detail in the report titled Automating Service Delivery. Log-in to download your copy of this 26-page report.

Relate Articles

GUEST POST: Sell Services Faster and More Accurately

GUEST POST: Sell Services Faster and More Accurately

BLOG

GUEST POST: Sell Services Faster and More Accurately

Company executives understand that selling services alongside core product offerings leads to greater alignment and customer value, while subsequently decreasing the likelihood of customer churn and loss of recurring revenue. 

While products form the basis of a customer-vendor relationship, services are the foundation from which post-sales customer relationships are built and sustained.  Services are a natural extension to core product features and offer access to the expertise, skills, and resources that drive customer value.

By Steve Schneider – Co-Founder, WorkRails

Why selling services can be difficult

Well-defined services and the means to sell them are imperative. so why is selling services so difficult?

The ability of Sales to sell services is often complicated by inadequate systems and manual processes that reduce the speed and accuracy of service discovery, configuration, and quoting. Inhibitors to service sales are often systemic and arise from programs that are disproportionately focused on selling strictly new products.

Services revenue is more important than ever, and companies must make concerted efforts to help their Sales teams sell services more efficiently.

10 ways to help Sales teams sell services

  1. Make Sales aware of available services.

Sales teams may not be familiar with the extent of services available to customers or recent modifications and enhancements to the catalog of available services. Actively promote the availability and value of services to Sales.

Develop a comprehensive catalog of service programs with up-to-date program descriptions and critical details. Make the service program catalog available digitally in a single, easy-to-find location like a CRM.  Keep Sales up-to-date about enhancements to the service catalog.

  1. Make it easy for Sales to align customer needs with available programs.

The existence of a service catalog does not mean that Sales will know how to align customer needs to available services. Help Sales recognize service opportunities and provide the tools to match needs to available services.

Provide Sales with digital customer journeys, use case examples, and service configuration guidance (configurators). Consider creating predefined service-outcome-based journeys that package multiple service programs to deliver specific customer outcomes, but also support custom SOWs.

  1. Justify service value.

Every service program and service bundle will have an associated price, even if it is discounted. Customers will want to understand the benefits of service offers for the price paid. Be prepared to help Sales justify service value. Establish guidance to suggest the tangible benefits customers can expect, including faster time to benefit; lower costs to implement and maintain; and the attainment of business performance objectives.

Provide Sales with cases studies and quantification tools to help justify the cost of services.

  1. Simplify service configuration.

Some service programs will provide standard deliverables and resources, other services must be customized to meet specific customer needs. Make it possible for Sales to customize and configure services to meet the specific scale and scope of customer needs. Integrate configuration tools with the ability to create customized service quotes.

Provide Sales with access to easy-to-use sales enablement and on-line configuration tools to capture required information needed to customize service quotes.

  1. Streamline proposal creation.

Creating a service proposal should not be complicated. To simplify service proposal creation, use configured services information to automatically build proposals with up-to-date program descriptions, terms, and conditions. Provide the means to pull information from existing systems and integrate customer-specific configuration inputs to create customized service proposals.

Provide Sales with the proposal-generating tools necessary to generate customer-ready documentation quickly and easily.

  1. Digitize pricing, discounting, and Sales policies.

Pricing should not be a mystery and Sales should not have to hunt for quotes. Provide a digital experience for Sales and Service team members to dynamically create quotes based on customer needs. Add pricing and sales policies to your services catalog and keep all data up to date and relevant in one central repository. Assure that pricing and sales policies are clearly delineated by regions.

Provide Sales with a digital platform to generate quotes on demand based on customer requirements.

  1. Automate approval workflows.

Take the guesswork out of pricing and discounting by establishing clear sales policies and approval guidelines. Automated, end-to-end service sales workflows and approvals assure that proposals are aligned with current sales policies.

Provide Sales with clearly defined sales policies related to pricing discount and approvals. Provide digitally enabled processes for creating and routing new proposals to the appropriate internal resources for approval—deal desks or executives— with the ability to capture customer approvals digitally.

  1. Seamless system integration

Selling services should not require extraordinary efforts by Sales. Disparate systems that require time and effort to keep up to date can increase the time to close new service deals and lead to errors and inaccuracies.  implify the service sales process by integrating Customer Relationship Management (CRM),  Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Professional Services Automation (PSA), and other back-end systems that enable service sales actions such as configuration, pricing, quoting, booking, and scheduling new services.

Remove the burden on Sales teams to update multiple disparate systems by providing seamless system integration across the end-to-end service sales process.

  1. Incent action.

Streamlining and simplifying the end-to-end service sales process will help Sales sell services, but it may not be enough. If you want Sales to take an interest and commit time and efforts to selling services recognize and incent action. Structure compensation, goals and KPIs to properly align products and services.

Incent Sales to sell the right services to the right customers and adhere to established service sales policies and guidelines.

  1. Measure and improve.

Monitor the effectiveness of service sales actions to identify which service programs are most often purchased and w messaging and sales resources are most useful for closing service deals. Evaluate the effectiveness of selling platforms and processes to further streamline the service sales process.

Continually monitor service sales performance and engage with Sales teams to assure that service offers are aligned with current customer needs; sales resources are effective; and that systems and processes are streamlined.

Help your Sales team sell services.

Services and the means to sell them are imperative. With the right resources Sales can quickly and accurately discover, understand, configure, price, and quote services. Effective service sales capabilities create opportunities for recurring revenue retention and growth. Help your Sales team sell services by providing the information, systems, and processes they need.

Service sales can be complex and time consuming, but it doesn’t have to be.

 

About WorkRails

WorkRails has reinvented how software companies sell services to their customers.  With over $700 billion a year spent on technology services, we were shocked to see the most advanced companies relying on old documents, spreadsheets and predominantly manual processes to drive such an important part of their business.

Through automation, WorkRails makes selling services easy, fast and more accurate for our clients, saving them time and money.  Our SaaS solution powers an e-commerce experience for services employees, clients and partners that increases adoption and reduces errors.  Our clients include some of the top software companies in the world.

Learn More about WorkRails at https://www.workrails.com/

 

Match Customers with the right services.
Close more deals faster.

On-Demand Webinar:

Sell Services Faster and More Accurately

co-presented by ServiceXRG and WorkRails

 

How to Sell Services Faster and More Accurately, from ServiceXRG and WorkRails

Take These Proven Actions to Scale Support Delivery

Take These Proven Actions to Scale Support Delivery

BLOG

Take These Proven Actions to Scale Support Delivery

The future success of your Customer Support organization relies on your ability to scale Support delivery. By taking these five actions, you can effectively scale Support delivery to not only meet the expected demand growth, but also fulfill an expanded, Success-focused mission.

When you can scale Support delivery, your team can add more value.

I recently blogged about my POV regarding Support demand in 2021 and beyond (spoiler alert: Support demand will increase). While increased demand presents an opportunity for Support to take on more high-value customer engagement activities, it first requires increases investment in diversified, targeted actions that will enable Support delivery at scale. Focus on these five action areas that have been proven to drive results.

  1. Prevention – Support must take the lead in identifying the root causes of support demand and aggressively advocate for mitigation of these circumstances. Support must work with Engineering groups to improve product performance and usability issues and work across the company to promote effective customer onboarding and skills development activities.
  2. Self-Help – Support teams represent a repository of product expertise and must work to make their knowledge available to customers. Many new support cases can be avoided if customers are able to access the knowledge and expertise of Support. Transferring knowledge to customers to help them become more self-sufficient should be high on the list of strategic imperatives for all Support organizations. Read more about Self-Service and Knowledge management.
  3. Proficiency – Companies need to look beyond just helping customers help themselves and consider how they can build customers expertise so they can use and apply products more competently. Proficiency will require companies to move beyond a reliance on self-help-focused strategies and invest in building the foundational technical and business skills customers need to apply products successfully.  For a great example of building customer proficiency, read our article about Salesforce Trailhead.
  4. Automation – Support has always been a labor-intensive function that relies on the skills of product experts. Support cannot scale based solely on human power. Read 6 Ways to Apply AI to Technical Support

 

 

Want to better understand Support demand trends? Download our research.

Are you ready for the challenges your Support organization will face in the year ahead?  Are you ready to capitalize on new opportunities?  How will you scale and transform Support?

For insights about how Support is changing and the opportunities and imperatives for 2021, download ServiceXRG’s latest study: Support Transformation: The Guide to Essential Practices and Metrics. It examines current trends in Support delivery and offers tangible guidance for Support, Success and Service professionals to meet growing expectations of both customers and company executives. Download your copy now.

Make your plan to meet the Support demand in your organization—we can help.

ServiceXRG provides coaching and guidance to help companies maximize customer value through better Support performance. Contact us anytime to set up an initial assessment of your Support planning needs. Use the chat button at bottom right, send an e-mail, or click on my calendar to schedule a specific time.

 

Support demand is on the rise. What’s your response plan?

Exclusive ServiceXRG White Paper:

Four Imperatives for Scaling Support

Download the ServiceXRG whitepaper, "Ensuring a Successful Journey to Customer Success"

Scaling Support Delivery Through Digital Transformation

Scaling Support Delivery Through Digital Transformation

BLOG

Scaling Support Delivery Through Digital Transformation

Scaling Support Delivery requires the digital transformation of support and an increased use of digital technologies to improve and extend core support processes and enable new service capabilities. Digital transformation includes human-assisted, self-assisted and fully automated support transactions. This article defines and introduces key characteristics of the digital transformation to scale support delivery.

Support Digital Transformation

The digital transformation of support is enabled by customers desire to help themselves and their broad access to digital devices and platforms from which support may be requested and delivered.

The use of digital technologies in support is not new, but the rate of adoption by service providers and acceptance by customers has accelerated digitization.  Today most support transactions are digitally enabled, many do not involve direct support assistance or human interaction.

Support Digital Transformation

Support Digital Transformation

Some unique characteristics of Support Digital Transformation are noted below.

Support Delivery and Interaction

Support Digital Transformation enhances companies’ ability to engaged and interact with customers through assisted, automated and self-help service delivery channels.

Self-Help

Self-help tools and content allow customers to access information and resources they need to resolve their own issues.  Access to self-help is primarily facilitated through web support sites accessed from desktop computers and mobile devices.

Read more articles about self-help

https://www.servicexrg.com/blog/self-help/

Automated

Intelligent automation increasingly supplements delivery of some services freeing humans to focus on tasks not suitable to automation (yet).  Automated support includes unassisted transactions such as chat-bots, renewal notification, monitoring and alerting.

Read more articles about tools and support automation

https://www.servicexrg.com/blog/tools-and-automation/

Human Assisted

Digital support platforms enable humans to perform service and support transactions efficiently.  Ticket tracking and management, access to customer data and the ability to collaborate with customers through remote tools enhance assisted support transactions.

Technology Enabled

Support Digital Transformation leverages digital technologies to achieve predictable outcomes and enhanced efficiencies by leveraging customer data and organizational knowledge.

Process Efficiency

Vital support processes such as case submission, entitlement validation, escalation, and the interaction between support experts and customers are digitally enabled through, CRM, case tracking, escalation and bug tracking and customer success management platforms.  Support today cannot operate efficiently without extensive use of technology to enable core support processes.

Data Driven

Digitally enabled support processes assure that what is known about a customer and the products they use can help streamline, personalize and automate customer interactions.  Collection, storage and access to customer data including user preferences, usage behaviors, skill level, and previous interactions establishes a foundation to enhanced future interactions.

Customer data can be supplemented with product data including, configuration, health, and performance. Data access can help anticipate and respond to customer needs and monitor relationship health.

Knowledge Enabled

Customers have more options for access to support knowledge.  Well documented domain knowledge enables searchable knowledge access, just-in-time training, on-demand coaching and guided assistance (human and automated) delivering the answers customers need quickly.

Read more about support knowledge management

https://www.servicexrg.com/blog/self-help/

Additional Benefits

Support Digital Transformation offers the following additional benefits.

Expanded Channels

Digital technologies make access to support easier.  Customer can seek support assistance from mobile devices, the web, and directly though product interfaces.

New Service Value

Digital technologies extend support beyond its traditional boundaries.  Self-help, peer-to-peer communities, just-in-time learning, and ever-increasingly sophisticated automation assume a greater burden for overall support delivery.

Proactive

Digital capabilities introduce the means to deliver services before they are requested by customers.  Monitoring and analysis of data helps to anticipate customer needs and provide solutions before they are requested by customers.

The Digital Transformation of Support

The Digital Transformation of Support

The Digital Transformation of Support

The digital transformation of support is defined by an increased use of digital technologies to improve and extend core support processes and enable new service capabilities. Digital transformation includes human-assisted, self-assisted and fully automated support transactions.

Support Digital Transformation

The digital transformation of support is enabled by customers desire to help themselves and their broad access to digital devices and platforms from which support may be requested and delivered.

The use of digital technologies in support is not new, but the rate of adoption by service providers and acceptance by customers has accelerated digitization.  Today most support transactions are digitally enabled, many do not involve direct support assistance or human interaction.

Support Digital Transformation

Some unique characteristics of Support Digital Transformation are noted below.

Support Delivery and Interaction

Support Digital Transformation enhances companies’ ability to engaged and interact with customers through assisted, automated and self-help service delivery channels.

Self-Help

Self-help tools and content allow customers to access information and resources they need to resolve their own issues.  Access to self-help is primarily facilitated through web support sites accessed from desktop computers and mobile devices.

Read more articles about self-help

Automated

Intelligent automation increasingly supplements delivery of some services freeing humans to focus on tasks not suitable to automation (yet).  Automated support includes unassisted transactions such as chat-bots, renewal notification, monitoring and alerting.

Read more articles about tools and support automation

Human Assisted

Digital support platforms enable humans to perform service and support transactions efficiently.  Ticket tracking and management, access to customer data and the ability to collaborate with customers through remote tools enhance assisted support transactions.

Technology Enabled

Support Digital Transformation leverages digital technologies to achieve predictable outcomes and enhanced efficiencies by leveraging customer data and organizational knowledge.

Process Efficiency

Vital support processes such as case submission, entitlement validation, escalation, and the interaction between support experts and customers are digitally enabled through, CRM, case tracking, escalation and bug tracking and customer success management platforms.  Support today cannot operate efficiently without extensive use of technology to enable core support processes.

Data Driven

Digitally enabled support processes assure that what is known about a customer and the products they use can help streamline, personalize and automate customer interactions.  Collection, storage and access to customer data including user preferences, usage behaviors, skill level, and previous interactions establishes a foundation to enhanced future interactions.

Customer data can be supplemented with product data including, configuration, health, and performance. Data access can help anticipate and respond to customer needs and monitor relationship health.

Knowledge Enabled

Customers have more options for access to support knowledge.  Well documented domain knowledge enables searchable knowledge access, just-in-time training, on-demand coaching and guided assistance (human and automated) delivering the answers customers need quickly.

Read more about support knowledge management

Additional Benefits

Support Digital Transformation offers the following additional benefits.

Expanded Channels

Digital technologies make access to support easier.  Customer can seek support assistance from mobile devices, the web, and directly though product interfaces.

New Service Value

Digital technologies extend support beyond its traditional boundaries.  Self-help, peer-to-peer communities, just-in-time learning, and ever-increasingly sophisticated automation assume a greater burden for overall support delivery.

Proactive

Digital capabilities introduce the means to deliver services before they are requested by customers.  Monitoring and analysis of data helps to anticipate customer needs and provide solutions before they are requested by customers.

Featured: Featured: Digital Transformation Through Support Web Site Design

The digital transformation of support is defined by an increased use of digital technologies to improve and extend core support processes and enable new service capabilities. Self-help tools and content provided through the web are fundamental to support’s successful digital transformation.  This Playbook outlines the five elements of well-designed support web sites.

Log-in to get your copy.

Related Articles

Maximizing the Return on Your Support Knowledge Base

The Support organization encompasses extensive experience and expertise about how to use and apply products. Access to this Support knowledge is the primary reason customers contact Support. This article explains how companies can maximize the return on the creation and distribution of Support knowledge.

read more

Beyond Self-Service Deflection

The use of Self-Service deflection as a basis to justify investments in Self-Service fosters an expectation that it is only capable of reducing costs. This article explains why Self-Service is vital to a successful service strategy and delivers benefits well-beyond cost reduction.

read more

Six Steps to Measure Self-Service Deflection

Self-Service deflection is the rate at which self-help and automated resources satisfy customers’ service demands that would otherwise be handled by assisted service staff. This article introduces a concise definition for self-service deflection and lays out six steps to reliably measure this metric.

read more

Self-Service Deflection Performance Trends

Self-Service deflection has averaged 22.2%. In 2020 self-help deflection stood at 19.8%. The industry trend for deflection has sloped down (-.5%) during the last decade. This article provides a historic view of deflection trends from 2010 to 2020.

read more

The State of Self-Service Tech Support

Self-service is essential for companies meet growing support demand but should not be the only strategy companies rely on to scale support delivery. This article assesses the state of self-service tech support and examines the use of self-help and service automation.

read more

Pin It on Pinterest