What’s beyond self-service? Welcome to ‘selfie-service‘

“I use self-service in McDonalds so that I don’t have to talk to anyone or take off my headphones"

The digital age has transformed the way customer interact with businesses. Consumers are now sporting personal networks of connected devices including a plethora of home technologies an indication that they are more inclined to try new experiences more often. As devices become more ingrained in people’s lives, the gap between digital and physical experiences has narrowed as consumers are more sophisticated and empowered. In fact, with streams of information at their fingertips, they’re not only consuming information.

98% of today’s consumers are omnichannel users, taking advantage, on average, of 7 different channels to connect with organizations. The digital revolution is creating consumers that are much more connected, knowledgeable and have more power than ever before.

Millennials will soon be entering peak earning and spending years, and they have very high expectations from services providers about the type of customer service they receive, how and when it should be delivered to them.

All this is creating a shift in what matters for consumers – brand loyalty, especially for large traditional consumer institutions, is often replaced with suspicion and mistrust. We’re seeing a rise in importance of a mix of old and new values: “transparency”, "value for money", "saving" and "stability“, family, friends, home, environment and local communities.

By 2025, three key concepts will come together to create a new customer paradigm. The first is the demand for personalization, which will evolve into contextualization, adding the dimensions of place and time to data about an individual. This addresses the needs of the me-culture – the desire for the digital world to tailor itself to the needs of the individual. Beyond contextualization lies idiosyncrasy which adds authentic, quirky and unique experience elements.

The second key concept is the increasing demand – especially from younger people – to do more things for themselves, a need for digital autonomy that expands beyond self-service to embrace self-care, self-provisioning, self-bundling, and digital creation.

This latter factor is very powerful because it is effectively the mechanism for self-personalization and fulfils the emerging need for customers to build, personalize, create and share. Younger customers in particular want to be treated as individuals but they also want to do things for themselves.

Customers will also desire a high level of control over their digital lives and they are becoming increasingly suspicious of being exploited. Thus privacy and usage controls, along with security, are becoming extremely important to customers.

The third key concept is social consumption, which builds on group behavior such as sharing thoughts and insights with friends and strangers, and consuming goods and services both ‘noisily’ (ie creating a social commentary around their consumption) and visually (sharing pictures and videos of their experiences).

The combination of these three elements of personalization, self-service and social consumption creates a phenomenon called ‘selfie-service’. This represents an evolution of self-service because it doesn’t just enable a customer to serve themselves, but also to create their own service paradigm, tailor their experience, and be more creative. It embraces the concept that the customer wants more control and may wish to support, recommend, interact or otherwise document their experiences. In selfie-service, co-creation becomes the norm and an emerging but fundamental need is addressed - the wish of the customer to be in total control of the experience, in order to build, appraise and innovate it.

In this paradigm, formal customer support might become simply another service element to be utilized or not

What this means for the contact center

  1. Digital Autonomy is not just important for customers! Attracting Generation Z employees means giving them the creative tools to do their job
  2. Support for the generation that doesn’t sleep will kill the notion of office hours
  3. New forms of communication will evolve and need to be utilized authentically

Companies need to embed themselves far more within social conversations, and use customers’ wish for autonomy to educate them​ as to how they can support themselves. This is another key role the contact center will assume – as a training or educating center for customers.