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How far can Self-Service go?


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Balance between Self-Service and Customer Service Agents

In the call center and contact center industry, self-service apps are proliferating. They enable customers to perform more straightforward transactions themselves.

A few key strokes or taps here. A verbal command or two there. And the task is done. Easy-peasy.

Such advances have their advantages, giving customers more immediate control. As Kate Leggett, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester, reports in her blog: “Online Self-Service Dominates Yet Again. Why? It’s an Effortless Way to Get Your Answers.”

Case for More Self-serve

Citing Forrester’s 2015 “Customer Lifecycle Survey,” Leggett calls out statistics, such as:

  • “Web self-service use increased from 67% in 2012 to 76% in 2014.”
  • “Virtual agent use jumped from 28% in 2012 to 58% in 2015.”

Plus, she writes that in 2016 “respondents report using speech self-service 55% of the time.”

Self-service Has Its Limits

Interestingly enough, Leggett ends her blog stating as customers rely more on self-service for routine transactions, they still will “demand a higher caliber of agent for effective issue resolution.”

Said another way: “Not all problems can be resolved easy-peasy.”

As examples, Leggett points to “account closure, booking a complex multi-city set of flights, or an explanation of smart metering billing policies.”

Customer Service Agents Prevail

To address such situations, I find person-to-person prevails—be it a helping hand, calm voice or cool head.

It’s where seasoned service agents perform well. Why? Because their personal experience and insight exceeds any automated bot response or algorithmic-derived decision-making.

This is one of their stories, where a Working Solutions agent’s quick thinking addressed a child’s pressing medical problem.

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Tears, Then Relief

On one of her agent jobs, Annalee referred patients to same-day dental appointments. One morning, a panicked mother called. She was driving around town to find emergency care for her injured daughter.

Annalee could hear the little girl screaming in the background as her mom explained that she had tripped, breaking two front teeth at the gum line.

“The mom was crying, too, and while she told me her situation, I found a dentist within a mile of her location who was able to see her child immediately.”

After a five-minute call, tears turned to relief—and effusive thanks for Annalee’s help.


Related Reads

Could Chat Bots Replace Human Jobs?


The Human Touch of Automation: A Customer Experience Experience


Where machines could replace humans—and where they can’t (yet)


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