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Self-Service Requires People To Deliver Full Benefit

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Convenience is a major reason why people use the Web. It’s faster and more efficient than getting in the car or picking up the phone. Many organizations see the Web as a self-service environment where labor costs can be reduced. Self-service and convenience are not always in sync. Where that happens, nobody benefits.

The Web has often been described as the world’s greatest library. It has also been described as a giant library with all the books on the floor and the lights turned out. Here lies one of the great contradictions of the modern age.

It used to be that people felt they were not getting enough information. Now, an increasing number of people feel that they are getting too much. This problem is compounded by the fact that much information is poorly written and organized.

Many organizations who have embraced the Web have not fully understood its core strengths and weaknesses. They have thus created websites that have poor content that is poorly organized.

Where’s the benefit? In fact, many websites damage the reputation of the organization. It would be better to have no website than a bad one.

Think about a library for a moment. What are its core components? It has books and other media that are organized using a classification system. It also has librarians. Librarians are there to guide people, to help them when they get confused.

When someone first visits a library, they may require a lot of help from the librarian. They may ask where this and that section is. Over time, they will get used to how the library works.

The librarian is also there to deal with special circumstances. If, for example, the library doesn’t have a particular book, the librarian can order it. If the visitor has only a vague idea of what they’re looking for, the librarian can talk them through the issues, and guide them in the right direction.

I remember talking to a banker around 1996 about online banking. He was very excited. The transaction cost of someone coming into a bank was high. The transaction cost of someone using the Web to bank was very low. Online banking was convenient. It was a win-win situation.

Over time, the best banks have learned valuable lessons. These include the following:

1) You can’t simply offer online banking and all of a sudden everyone will be using it. Training and marketing are required. Quality banks now send people out to the homes of their customers to train and motivate them. They explain and sell the various features. In the initial stages, they ring up the customer every couple of months to see how they are getting on.

2) Human interaction has a lot of costs, but it also has a lot of hidden value. If you move your customer into self-service, where is the opportunity to develop a relationship, deepen loyalty, sell-on new services? Quality banks invite customers in for a chat at least once a year. You get a bit of care and attention; a friendly handshake, a cup of coffee.

Self-service rarely means 100 percent self-service. If at some point in the process you don’t have people interacting with people, then your customer is essentially doing business with a piece of software. Where’s the competitive advantage in that?

For your web content management solution, contact Gerry McGovern http://www.gerrymcgovern.com

Subscribe to his New Thinking Newsletter: subscribe@gerrymcgovern.mailer1.net

Self-Service Requires People To Deliver Full Benefit
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This entry was posted in Business.
About Gerry McGovern
For your web content management solution, contact Gerry McGovern http://www.gerrymcgovern.com

Subscribe to his New Thinking Newsletter: subscribe@gerrymcgovern.mailer1.net WebProNews Writer
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