Self-Help and Automation – Risks and Rewards

by | Feb 24, 2020 | AI, Article, Automation, Self-Help

Self-service and support automation are not simply a means to save money – each interaction is an opportunity to reinforce a customer relationship and sustain loyalty.  The burden of delivering a positive experience now lies with the tools and content we offer.

Self-Help and Automation

Web-based activities have become a significant factor in shaping customer experience and influencing the perceptions customers have about companies and their products.  The majority of on-line interactions are unassisted, where customers are encouraged to serve themselves.

As self-service and automated transactions supplement personal interactions, the ability to shape the customer experience depends on the on-line and automation tools and content provided. Poor content or an unnavigable site quickly undermines a business’s ability to deliver a positive experience. 

There is a profound difference between personal interactions and self-service transactions. The factors that influence the customer experience in personal interactions — an agent’s listening skills, empathy, knowledge, etc. — are replaced by an overriding factor: whether the customer can quickly find relevant information. In our effort to encourage customers to serve themselves, we have removed the human factor from the on-line experience. The burden for delivering a positive experience now lies with the tools and content we offer and their relevance in helping customers achieve their objectives.


High Stakes

Self-help and automated services provide a means for companies to continue to engage with their customers in a low-cost manner. However, self-service is not simply a means to save money: Each interaction is an opportunity to reinforce the relationship and sustain customer loyalty. Though there’s a significant temptation to undertake web-based services as a low-cost alternative to customer engagement through interactive channels, it must not come at the expense of delivering an experience that strengthens relationships with customers.

Self-service and support automation are not simply a means to save money – each interaction is an opportunity to reinforce the relationship and sustain customer loyalty.

Companies have a lot at stake when they move interactions to the web.  Once on-line, their customers are just one Google search away from a variety of alternative sources of information and resources to help them satisfy their needs. Brand awareness and affinity can be undermined in an instant. Creating a positive customer experience has never been more important.  It’s also never been more challenging.

When customers actively seek assistance, technology vendors are presented with an opportunity to satisfy the customer’s needs.  This in turn creates an opportunity to positively influence the customer’s perception of the technology vendor helping to create satisfied and loyal customers.  The alternative is that when a customer that needs help but does not get it, can be left with an issue that inhibit their ability to use the vendor’s product.  This lack of service can potentially diminish customers’ perception of that vendor.

At Risk

Vendor web sites have become a secondary resource to general web searches when customers need help.  Historically customers have rated the quality and effectiveness of information found on non-vendor web sites very low, but this trend has shifted with more customers indicting that the information they find through general web searches to be relevant and effective in satisfying their needs.

Vendors risk losing the advantage they once had in retaining control of the on-line service experience.

When customers find information on other – non-vendor sites, it diminishes a company’s ability to leverage the service interaction to strengthen its relationship with customers.  Without a concerted effort to expand and improve the quality, relevance and findability of the right services content through the support web site vendors risk losing the advantage they once had in retaining control of the on-line service experience.

Why NPS is Not Enough for Support and Success

Support and Success must be focused on the attainment of tangible business objectives.  For the customer, this implies that Support or Success interactions must help the customer apply a product successfully.  For the business, providing these services must contribute to retaining relationships with hopes of expanding their value.

Attainment of high Net Promoter Scores, while positive, is not enough to indicate that “promoters” will correlate to the positive outcomes the business expects.  The measure of Support and Success must be tangible and focused on “end game” results such as:

  • Can the customer use the product?
  • Can customers achieve tangible business outcomes by using the product?
  • Did support or success services help the customer attain their goals?
  • How will the customers’ ability to achieve their desired outcomes influence their ongoing relationship?

The Right Metrics for Support and Success

What is the primary reason for offering Support and Success services?  In most cases these organizations are aligned to help customers adopt and apply products successfully. The rationale is if customer can use and apply products successfully, you will increase the likelihood that you can retain and expand these relationships.  A single, simple measure such as NPS cannot provide sufficient insight to indicate that Support and Success efforts are resulting in tangible business benefit.

Consider the following eight metrics for determining the impact of your post sales services.



1. Onboard
The percent on that new customers have received formal onboarding guidance.
2. Adoption
The rate that customers have met adoption milestones.
3. Success
The percent of customer that have reached established performance goals or milestones on defined journey map.
4. Availability
The rate that customers business operations have not be interrupted due to downtime or outages.
5. Engagement Quality
The percent of all customer engagements that result in positive outcomes.
6. Retention
The percent of active customers that have committed to renew an existing relationship.
7. Health
The relative health of a customer relationship based on the composite rates of adoption, success, retention, and recurring revenue rates.
8. Net Recurring Revenue
The net growth or contraction of the total recurring revenue relationship value. See How to Measure Net Recurring Revenue

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