Is Your Digital Customer Service Strategy Counterproductive?

Under pressure to meet customer expectations and outpace the competition, many business leaders are turning to additional digital channels to create a better customer service experience. According to Gartner, this approach is not delivering the expected results.

Is Your Digital Customer Service Strategy Counterproductive?

In the post-pandemic era, companies have been adding channels like social media, chatbots and live chats to their digital customer service strategy in the hope that they will meet their customer needs more effectively and reduce call centre costs. Devin Poole, Senior Director – Advisory at Gartner, sums up the thinking:

“There’s been a constant drumbeat across service organisations: If you want to keep up, keep adding.”

However, Gartner’s research shows that providing customers with more digital channels unintentionally makes matters worse. 


More channels create complexity and hurt the bottom line

Contrary to expectations, additional channels are not improving customer experience, reducing live call volumes or minimising issue resolution costs. When we think about our own digital experiences, we shouldn’t be surprised. We’ve all been there – trying to resolve a simple problem with a company, only to be shunted from one digital channel to the next until you end up on hold with their call centre. From the customer’s perspective, the system is broken. The frustration from these fragmented digital experiences damages customer satisfaction and loyalty and fuels customer service delivery costs. According to Gartner, live channels, such as phone, live chat and email, cost $8.01 per contact, making them significantly more expensive than self-service channels, such as company-run websites and mobile apps, which cost just $0.10 per contact. 

Limited adoption of self-service

Despite self-service presenting a more cost-effective option, Gartner’s research found that it was only partially adopted by many companies. While 70% of customers use a self-service channel during their resolution journey, only 9% of customer interactions are wholly contained within self-service channels. This a curious finding when most service leaders believe they could resolve nearly 20% to 40% of their live volume customer contact in self-service channels.

So why are companies finding it hard to achieve
a self-service dominant approach?

Roadblocks to self-service

Many companies have learned the hard way that developing self-service functionalities using traditional technologies can be challenging, expensive and time-consuming, with integration proving particularly complex and the user experience (UX) underwhelming. 

These roadblocks were experienced by one of our customers, Pepper Money, an award-winning non-bank lender. The company had attempted to create a self-service portal for their customers by extending their commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) CRM. They soon discovered it lacked the functionalities and UX to fulfil their vision. As a result, Pepper Money was forced to build three customer portals for their three main product lines – personal, car and home loans. Each portal required a separate sign-in and offered limited capabilities, which was far from ideal for their customers. Pepper Money next explored using their BPM platform to create their self-service portal. Once again, the company was frustrated when it couldn’t achieve the sleek UX they required. The company recognised that the technologies they were using were holding them back.

How to make comprehensive self-service a reality

While comprehensive self-service might seem challenging to achieve, it doesn’t have to be when you have the right technology and partner. Committed to realising their self-service strategy, Pepper Money continued their search for the best technology solution. They discovered OutSystems, a high-performance low-code platform that can deliver at speed, achieve pixel-perfect UX and handle extensive system integrations and data synchronisations.

By partnering with PhoenixDX, Pepper Money was able to build a unified customer service portal with a polished UX in just 4 months.

We looked at the SaaS products available, including vendor and hosted solutions. None of them allowed us to innovate the ‘Pepper Money way’. We didn’t have the developers to build a unified portal ourselves. PhoenixDX and the OutSystems low-code platform stood out because they could deliver the key things we wanted to achieve – the ability to develop the universal customer portal, transform our digital self-serve capabilities and go mobile.

The company was delighted with the outcome. Accessible via a single sign-in, the portal dashboard gives their customers clear visibility across all three loan types, unparalleled self-service functionality and an appealing and intuitive UX, making it easier than ever to manage and control their personal finances from desktop or mobile. It also integrates, in real-time, with more than a dozen systems running across the lender’s backend platforms.

In the months following its release, the customer self-service portal reduced customer preference to use the call centre by 29%, increased customers’ likelihood to go online to access their products by 10% and increased satisfaction across digital channels by 17%. 

The way forward

Customers are crying out for unified self-service channels that work. They want the ability to resolve their issues quickly, easily and independently within a single customer journey. 

Companies wishing to remain competitive in this environment must focus on developing a self-service dominant customer service strategy. Rather than waste precious resources creating costly digital channels that fragment the customer experience, IT leaders can use OutSystems to take the pain out of developing a self-service approach. The platform allows companies to develop an application with robust and comprehensive self-service capabilities quickly and easily. Leading-edge technology supports easy integration with underlying systems and provides a modern and intuitive UX that delivers a truly unified customer experience across desktop and mobile devices. 

Fast and cost-effective, this approach to customer service delivery enables organisations to overcome complexity, significantly reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction. 

It’s time to give customers what they really want – comprehensive self-service. We can help you make this happen.

Learn more about Pepper Money’s self-service journey with OutSystems and PhoenixDX.