It’s funny how the line between innovation and convention blurs over time. What was once a creative outside-the-box solution often becomes an everyday expectation. Such is the case with customer service. Brought on by larger organizations, the convenience of self-service options for clientele is now an expected part of the consumer experience across industries such as retail, banks, communication and travel, just to name a few. Originally intended to increase sales and streamline billing cycles - the convenience of online self-service activities such as purchasing products, paying invoices, scheduling an appointment, etc., at any time is now a prerequisite for businesses to remain competitive and profitable. So what’s the takeaway for small businesses?
Today it is more important than ever for small businesses to fully explore the benefits and understand the value of online self-service to their customers as well as their bottom line. Some segments – such as retail – have been able to successfully adopt these capabilities, resulting in the ability for even the smallest of shops to expand their business nationwide while allowing customers to use their websites to purchase products and serve themselves when needed. However, for those in other verticals where self-service solutions are not yet mainstream, there are a number of ways to start embracing this transition, get ahead of the game, generate business and increase customer loyalty. It reminds me of the “credit card payment adoption,” which many small businesses at one point resisted. Large enterprises have already set the tone for easy online self-service options, and competitors lagging behind will alienate themselves from today’s ‘instant gratification’ consumers.
Online self-service capabilities vary in both functionality and complexity. Fortunately, these capabilities can be adopted in small steps and in ways that cause minimal disruption for the business. Here are a few great places to start for those who are not sure where to begin:
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Written Ran Oelgiesser, CMO of vCita