Self-Service Raising Bar on Customer Service Speed, Customer Expectations

Self-service through automation is speeding up customer service. And the faster customer service gets, the faster customers expect it to be. It’s kind of a Catch-22 or self-fulfilling prophecy of our own creation.

Self-service is everywhere now, and we all benefit from it. We don’t have to physically go to the bank or chit-chat on the phone with a call center agent to get our account balances (by chit-chat, I really mean deflect sales pitches). We don’t have to write out and mail checks to pay our bills.

IVR systems and automated bill pay make these things instantaneous, which is why automated voice systems have become increasingly popular and mobile bill pay is growing leaps and bounds. (I think I probably spend 10 minutes on bills these days. Click-click-click. Done.)

I mean, when was the last time you saw a full-service gas station? Unless you live in New Jersey or Oregon with their full-service-only laws, it’s probably been a while. Years. A couple decades, even.

Last year, a Seattle-based insurer surveyed drivers in the Pacific Northwest about state prohibitions on self-service gas stations. According to the Portland Business Journal, more than a third of Oregon drivers said they were against the state’s law and would like to see self-service stations.

It’s a telling stat coming from a state where full-service stations are tradition, just part of life. Next door, two-thirds of Washington State drivers oppose laws like ones Oregon and New Jersey have on the books. And half of drivers in Oregon said they might change if it meant slightly cheaper gas (by 5 cents per gallon).

Catch-22. Self-fulfilling prophecy. Whatever you want to call it, by exceeding our customers’ expectations, we’re continuously creating higher customer expectations. And the trend doesn’t look to be slowing.

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