• December 8, 2023

For Younger Consumers, It’s Self-Service or Nothing

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Thirty-eight percent of Gen Z and Millennial consumers say they are likely to give up on customer service issues if they can’t resolve them in self-service, according to a survey by Gartner.

This is in stark contrast to Gen X and Baby Boomers, who are likely to contact an agent if self-service fails. Just 11 percent of Baby Boomers will give up if they can’t resolve their issue in self-service, and 55 percent of Baby Boomers said they’d give up only after contacting multiple people and still not getting a resolution, compared with just 31 percent of Gen Z.

This mindset of younger generations has far-reaching implications for businesses, with Gen Z and Millennial customers saying that if they could not resolve their issues in self-service the following consequences would happen:

• they would use the service or product less (55 percent);

• they wouldn’t buy from that company again in the future (52 percent); and

• they would say negative things about the company or product (44 percent).

Gartner says it’s time for companies to take notice, pointing out that as younger generations make up an increasingly larger proportion of the customer base, the impact of failing to address their customer service preferences and expectations could directly affect companies’ bottom lines.

Michael Rendelman, senior research specialist in the Gartner Customer Service and Support Practice, advises customer service and support leaders to identify the most common issues that customers want to resolve themselves and allow them to provide feedback when they can’t find what they want. This can be done, he says, by identifying common search terms used by customers navigating self-service and using product telemetry to identify the most common error messages.

Gartner’s research also found that 88 percent of all customer service interactions that start in self-service touch multiple channels, including phone, live chat, and email.

And while it would seem ideal to enable customers to self-serve as much as possible, some self-service interactions will inevitably fail, and when they do, it’s better to help customers switch to assisted service than to let them give up entirely, according to Rendelman. Many younger customers won’t make that switch on their own, so service leaders should look for ways to promote the switch for key issue types, he states.

As an example, Rendelman says that if a customer appears to be struggling in self-service, the options to begin a live chat or call an agent might pop up. This proactive approach prevents the customer from abandoning the issue, helping to improve customer satisfaction, he says.

And then it’s equally important to make switching between channels as seamless as possible, he adds.

The survey found that customers who experienced a seamless transition are 74 percent more likely to start in self-service the next time they have an issue.

And finally, it’s also important that reps are provided with all of the context gathered from self-service channels to avoid customers having to repeat information, which only creates unwanted friction, Rendelman concluded.

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