Self-service May Not Meet Your Customer’s Needs

Dateline: October 9, 2015

Welcome to our Friday WRAP – one thought-provoking idea to think about over the weekend.

Today’s thought comes from a recent article published at Sloan Management Review about self-service technologies.  The article, How Customers View Self-Service Technologies, written by Professors Sheryl E. Kimes (Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration) and Joel E. Collier (College of Business at Mississippi State University), suggests that self-service is not always the right answer for customer engagement.  This is a particularly interesting topic to me as I’ve written about how your relationship with your customer may be your only sustainable competitive advantage.  In this article, they surveyed customers and managers and found some significant differences in the way these two groups viewed self-service technologies.  They write,

In general, the differences between what customers want and what managers think customers want in a self-service experience were enlightening. Managers saw little need for employee assistance, underestimated the importance of convenience, and ultimately undervalued the speed of transaction. These three areas have a tremendous impact on the implementation of a self-service technology and might explain why some self-service applications have received a lukewarm reception. Managers must understand that even tech-savvy customers may initially need employee assistance when using new technologies. After customers become familiar with the technology, the need for employees to be present may be substantially reduced.

As you review the way your customers interact with your company, where is self-service the right answer and where is it necessary to insert employees to serve customers?

That’s a WRAP!  Have a great weekend!

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