Self-Service: Customers Demand It, But Should Your Company Allow It?

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Earthlink’s Michael Haisten will be presenting on customer self-service at this year’s Customer Insight Week!  Time is running out—make sure to register now for the September 26-28 event!

Like customer self-service skeptics, including CMIQ contributor Tripp Babbitt, Michael Haisten, Earthlink’s senior manager of self help and call deflection, realizes that cost-cutting is a huge—if not definitive--driver behind the strategy.

As Haisten explains in an exclusive podcast with, “Web self-service is cheaper than a call with a live agent, [and it is] especially more cost-effective for those companies that have domestic-based call centers.”

But unlike detractors, Haisten is unwilling to vilify customer self-service, mainly because of his firm confidence that audiences are demanding it.

“Customers are demanding it,” says Haisten.  “Customers want information readily available in the quickest channel possible, and that might not always be a live call.”

As younger customers gain more market saturation in the market, “customer experience--to a person who would rather be on the web--would be degraded if you required that person to call.”

In fact, whereas some criticize companies for thinking too much about their bottom line when shifting customers to self-service channels, Haisten accepts a criticism that reducing the amount of live calls will limit the opportunity to build lucrative relationships with customers.

Live agents, after all, are in a better position to upsell than automated web tools and pages.

In typically allowing customers to choose their preferred channel, Earthlink risks losing the CRM and upsale opportunities of such calls—“those are definitely legitimate concerns,” explains Haisten.

At the same time, Haisten believes companies can tailor their increasingly-mandatory self-service offering well enough to minimize the risk and maximize the reward.  How does he do it?  Listen above to learn Michael Haisten’s insights on maximizing the value of a self-service rollout.

He also shares the measures Earthlink uses to define a successful customer self-service implementation.

Check out the newest edition of Customer Management IQ’s Customer Creation podcast series to learn Earthlink’s valuable insights.  And, if you like what you hear, join Michael Haisten and many other leading customer-facing professionals at the Customer Insight Week!

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