Customer Self-Service Software (CSS) is a combination of customer and service interaction solutions, which are intended to empower customers to provision themselves. CSS solutions consist of Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, mobile self-service, virtual assistants, and e-support (web-based). These solutions empower end users to perform tasks or access data on their own, without the help of any customer service agent. End users can avail the service 24/7/365. Customer Self-Service Software is a subsegment of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and is also used for Employee Relationship Management (ERM).
The vendors have been placed into 4 categories based on their performance in each criterion: visionary leaders, innovators, emerging, and dynamic.
The visionary leaders receive high scores for most of the evaluation criteria. They have an established product portfolio and a very strong market presence.
Innovators have innovative portfolio of services and a strong potential to build robust business strategies for their business growth, to be at par with the Visionary Leaders. Moreover, a strong and dedicated direct and indirect sales channel is one of the key factors influencing the brand position of the firm.
The dynamic differentiators are established vendors with very strong business strategies. However, they have a low product portfolio. They focus on a specific type of technology related to the product.
The emerging companies have niche product offerings and are starting to gain their position in the market. They do not have much strong business strategies as compared to other established vendors. They might be new entrants in the market and require some more time before getting significant traction in the market.
Major Solutions Covered in the Analysis
The CSS solutions are classified into web self-service, mobile self-service, intelligent virtual assistants, social media & community self-service, e-mail management, IVR & ITR, and others such as CSS security and semantic search
The web self-service solution is a digital support mechanism, which enables the customers and employees in an organization to self-assist themselves by providing access to information and perform routine tasks over the internet. Web self-service is increasingly gaining traction and has become an essential part of CRM and ERM in many organizations. Web self-service is a collaborative term, which encompasses several self-service tools such as hybrid chats, instant answers, FAQ web pages, co-browsing, video tutorials, and widgets. Hybrid chats enable customers self-start the conversation with a virtual agent and if they do feel satisfied, they can immediately switch on to a live agent. On the contrary, the instant answers technology suggests content related to the query of the customers and deflects unnecessary tickets by using semantic search, to analyze the user input and directing them to the information they are seeking, thus enabling customers to answer their own questions, rather than sending an email or creating a support ticket.
Mobile self-service is a fast growing mode of CSS due to the increasing proliferation of smartphones across all the regions. The mobile self-service solution includes various tools of customer service, such as SMS, voice, video, and apps. SMS has traditionally been the most preferred mode of CSS due to ease of application for both the customers and organizations. However, these days automated SMS messages are gaining popularity among many organizations as these can be used to send customers simple reminders or updates. Once the customer responds to these messages, the organizations integrate the SMS with text analytics algorithms to understand the context behind customer requests. The analysis of the requests enable them to enhance the overall customer experience. Apart from SMS, mobile apps are also a fast growing trend for CSS. The companies provide their customers specific mobile apps through which they can perform routine activities, such as paying a bill, checking into a flight, booking a healthcare appointment, or booking cabs without any secondary assistance.
INTELLIGENT VIRTUAL ASSISTANTS
Intelligent virtual assistants/virtual customer assistants or chatbots are automated applications, which help in responding to customer queries by simulating a conversation on the web or within a mobile app. Many organizations rely on them as an effective tool to lower their customer support costs by handling common questions and queries before they reach a live agent. Virtual assistants are based on text analytics and Natural Language Processing (NLP) and understand the context of a customer query when it is entered in a text format or spoken by the customer via a mobile app. The query is then analyzed and the nearest possible answer for it is tracked in the knowledgebase. The companies integrate the virtual agents with multiple channels of customer engagement, such as web chat, social media, mobile apps, and FAQ pages.
SOCIAL MEDIA AND COMMUNITY SELF-SERVICE
Social media and community self-service is a budding concept in CRM and CSS. A majority of the companies providing CRM suites also provide self-service tools such as social media communities and forums. Most of the companies are rapidly switching to social media by forming peer-to-peer support communities and discussion forums for reducing customer support costs. The social media is an apt platform through which the companies can better connect with their customers, create a better brand value, and also analyze the perception about their offerings among the customers. The peer-to-peer support community software helps in engaging, supporting, and managing the online customer community by identifying their issues and resolving them instantly. The companies are also creating social business pages dedicated to their loyal customers wherein they can assist and self-serve themselves by viewing answers and resolutions from within the social network. Innovative companies such as Aspect Software and Inbenta provide self-service tools to their customers, which results in multi-lingual, natural language, self-service interface on social media channels, such as Facebook and Twitter with proper agent backup.
The email management solution necessarily constitutes Email Response Management System (ERMS), which enables CSS by handling customer mails automatically. In an ERMS, the email operator has access to the knowledgebase of the organization. The ERMS first parses the mail and reads its content through OCR technologies. Then, by keyword analysis, it tries to find the best possible solution for the customer query from the linked knowledgebase. Accordingly, automated responses are generated based on the knowledgebase self-service and are sent back to the customers in the form of mails. The ERMS has various components such as email ticketing system, email receipt module, spam filters, data enhancement module, and intelligent analysis module. This solution also helps organizations in email archiving, through which they can protect their critical customer information and can use it in future for processes, such as e-discovery.
INTERACTIVE VOICE RESPONSE AND INTERACTIVE TEXT RESPONSE
IVR is a technology that enables the human-machine interaction through voice and Dual-Tone Multi- Frequency (DTMF) signaling inputs, whereas ITR is a technology that involves providing service to the customers via text-based communication channels, such as SMS, social media platforms, web chats, and Over the Top (OTT) messaging. IVR was the most commonly used self-service tool till recent times, but due to certain limitations, it is losing its sheen and will soon be overtaken by ITR as a more favored self-service tool popular among the organizations. The major limitation of IVR is that it is less user friendly and its focus is majorly on cost reduction, rather than query resolution of customers. Gradually, there have been modifications in this solution and visual IVR is a better solution with enhanced user friendliness. ITR on the other hand is more preferred among customers for self-service, because it provides them with a flexible platform for outbound notifications and reminders, and ensures that the interaction is in the form of a two-way automated conversation, not just a one-way notification.
Customer Self-Service Software Quadrant
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- Support Services
- Level of Support Services
- Customer Feedback
- Pre Sales Support
- Software Requirement Specification (SRS)
- Product Demos
- Proof of Concept
- Dedicated Account Manager (DAM)
- Preferred support services delivery
- On-Site Support
- Remote Support
- Frequency of Support Service
- Frequency of Support Service - Monthly
- Frequency of Support Service - Annually
- Frequency of Support Service - Others
- Product Features and Functionality
- Features Offered
- Hybrid Chats & Instant Answers
- FAQ Web Pages
- Video Tutorials
- Mobile Apps
- Community Platforms
- Social Forums
- APIs for developing Self-Service Apps
- Automated Ticketing
- Helpdesk Automation
- Predictive Self-Service
- Deployment Mode
- Hosted / On-Cloud
- Preffered Delivery
- Full Time Equivalent
- Subscription / Licensing
- End-users catered
- CRM Software Vendors
- IT Service Providers
- Telecom Service Providers
- Companies/organizations/enterprises/ customers
- Delivery - Direct
- Delivery - Through Partners / Third-Party Vendors
- Breadth and Depth of Product Offerings
- Product/Solution Offered
- Software Offered
- Web Self-Service
- Mobile Self-Service
- Intelligent Virtual Assistants
- Social Media and Community Self-Service
- E-mail Management
- Interactive Voice Response & Interactive Text Response
- Customer Self-Service Security
- Semantic Search
- Other Software Offered
- Services Offered
- Integration & Deployment
- Education & Training
- Support & Maintenance
- Consulting Services
- Managed Services