15 Self-Service Mistakes Guaranteed to Drive Your Customers Away!


Our panel of experts share the self-service and automation mistakes that will cost you your customers.

Mistake 1 – Rolling out your self-service options and forgetting about them

Many businesses deploy their self-service systems, breathe a sigh of relief and then forget all about them. It’s a big mistake, as customer behaviour changes all the time and businesses evolve continuously.

You need to track and monitor your self-service platforms; look not only at where in the process people are using them intensively and generating positive results, but also at those points where people are getting frustrated and abandoning the self-service process altogether.

Mistake 2 – Directing customers to complicated or unclear instructions

If a message contains an instruction to do something, it is important that it is easy for the customer to follow through with that action.

For example, an outbound text message sent to a customer advising them to top up their electricity payment should include details of the telephone number they will need to dial – and even a link to a web app that will allow them to instantly log in and make a payment.

Mistake 3 – Penalising customers for going down the self-service route

Sometimes a customer will try to self-serve but will then have to talk to an agent.

Don’t penalise them and put them to the back of the queue just because they have tried to self-serve.

Instead, take account of when their interaction first started and how long they have been waiting and use that to bias their call waiting time.

Mistake 4 – Too many menu options in your IVR

Anthony Stephenson

Anthony Stephenson

Lots of businesses make the mistake of providing too many menus and options in their interactive voice response (IVR) solution, possibly in a misguided effort to keep customers away from calling agents directly.

Often, the tactic backfires as complex IVRs inevitably end up confusing customers – and result in them calling in to resolve their issue or concern.

Keep the menus and options as simple as possible.

With thanks to Anthony Stephenson at Enghouse Interactive

Mistake 5 – Losing sight of the value humans bring to customer interactions

Sarah Quennell

Sarah Quennell

Allowing customers to check balances, make payments, and add/remove services via their online account, SMS or social media can save the customer a great deal of time.

However, there can sometimes be a tipping point where the service must be handed over to a live human agent.

Businesses shouldn’t overlook the value of human contact for complicated issues. For now, humans are still far better problem solvers and empathisers than any automated system can be.

With thanks to Sarah Quennell at Aspect Software

Mistake 6 – Leaving your agents out of your design and testing team

The best way of getting feedback on how a self-service project may be successful is to involve frontline agents as testers and contributors to the design.

They live and breathe the customer experience every day and their feedback will fast-track the customer uptake rates.

Do not make the mistake of leaving your agents out of your design and testing team.

Mistake 7 – Not measuring how many customers drop out of the self-service process


An area with a lot of problems is how many customers “start” a self-service effort, then bail out midstream and end up calling the contact centre instead to complete the original intended transaction.

You need to have the correct KPIs to measure the success of the initiative by measuring how many customers fully complete the self-service process. Speech analytics can also help you understand the root cause of the failure-to-complete % of the self-service transaction.

Otherwise, you will have disgruntled customers contacting your agents and increasing the contact time (thus lowering your capacity) by starting off complaining about how rubbish the self-service technology is.

Mistake 8 – Developing self-service options in silos

Valur Svansson

Valur Svansson

A lot of the time self-service applications are developed in silos by technical members of the business – without regard to them having a full understanding (and appreciation) of the customer journey or the downstream impact of a poorly designed user interface.

Make sure your technical team members are full members of the operations teams that map the customer journey from beginning to end.

Do not make the mistake of just giving them a requirements list!

With thanks to Valur Svansson at IP Integration

Mistake 9 – Being vague about whether a human will be involved

Make sure you make it crystal clear to the customer that they are embarking on a self-serve option.

Do not imply that there is a human at the end of the choice.

Mistake 10 – Thinking your AHT will reduce once you roll out self-service

Phil Anderson

Phil Anderson

When you remove transactions with self-service options you will notice a change in workload, but you will also notice a difference in your Average Handling Time (AHT).

Simple transactions are typically quicker transactions, therefore the workload that is left will typically take longer; this will mean an increase in AHT.

This needs to be considered, as more complex workloads change both the working dynamic for the agent (no simple tasks, everything is complex) and staffing requirements (higher handle times, potentially lower occupancy, and more wait time to support the service level).

With thanks to Phil Anderson at The Forum

Mistake 11 – Not really understanding who your users are

Far too many self-service deployments – from apps, to virtual assistants – still don’t make the right judgement call on the tone of language, and fail to deliver on personalisation.

Getting the language right, delivering the right functionality, and designing conversations aimed specifically at your users, can make a real difference in terms of actual interaction outcomes.

Mistake 12 – Overlooking the need for a consistent persona that reflects your brand

Even though it’s automated, conversational speech self-service still needs to be a social interaction.

You need to establish a clear persona for your self-service application, and then make sure the language and voice you use match up.

If you don’t, your self-service channel can quickly become inconsistent, and will begin to project a persona that won’t typically match your brand ambitions.

Mistake 13 – Cutting corners when it comes to the talent for your voice recording


Always use professional voice talent! Given the pressure to optimise the performance of self-service applications, it’s surprising how many organisations overlook this when it comes to actually recording self-service voice content.

Having the right, professional sound is important, especially for the component elements of the interaction, where numbers, times or amounts need to be repeated back to the customer.

Mistake 14 – Bombarding users with robotic repetition instead of a range of recorded replies

Self-service applications frequently require an element of repetition to confirm customer choices correctly. However, repetition itself can be frustrating for listeners.

To get round this, you need to have a range of recorded replies that are consistent but not uniform, so that customers enjoy a less jarring experience.

Dan Whaley

Dan Whaley

Mistake 15 – Blaming your users when things don’t go to plan

Customers may not get their self-service responses exactly right, but that’s no reason to blame them.

Instead of berating customers with comments such as ‘that is incorrect’ or ‘you said it wrong’, user experience (UX) designers should aim to be polite – telling a customer it’s their fault will make them give up on the channel quickly!

With thanks to Dan Whaley at Sabio

Author: Megan Jones

Published On: 20th Jul 2016 - Last modified: 24th Apr 2024
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