When it comes to crafting a company’s online customer service, we’re all familiar with the argument that we need to cater for users ranging from the tech-savvy, who prefer great self-service, to the less tech-savvy, who prefer human interaction. Often, it’s contended that the younger generation tends to one end of that spectrum and the older generation to the other. While this may hold some truth, but to assume it’s the full story may lead to disastrous consequences. Why do I say this? Well, (without wanting to sound heartless) the older generation represents a diminishing constituency which, given enough time, will become less important.

Paradoxically, recent findings suggest a different relationship between self service and full service. It turns out that, although the ‘born-digitals’ prefer to do everything online, when they get stuck or feel they need to talk to someone, they expect to be able to do so right away and in a manner convenient to themselves.

Simply put, customers increasingly expect both brilliant self-service and brilliant full service. How do we put this into practice? Here’s one practical example of each, to get you started:

SELF-SERVICE: A Help Centre, including Frequently Asked Questions


Often, the heart of online self service is some kind of ‘Help’ tab. We believe the most effective Help areas combine the ability to search by any topic or keyword, with technology that makes most frequently asked queries accessible to the user. FAQ’s sections, in isolation, can frustrate users who don’t find a close match for the query they have. On the other hand, a freeform Help search tool alone doesn’t capitalise on our ability to predict common queries. Disney’s Help area may not be the prettiest, but it’s a great example of getting this balance right.

FULL SERVICE: A prominent homepage Contact button, without Mouseover Quick Guide


Instead of burying your company contact number in the hope of slashing service costs, it pays to do everything you can on the self-service front, as well as doing everything you can to make accessing human help convenient.

As in the example of Masthead above, featuring your ‘Get In Touch’ button prominently is a good start, which is made even better by adding a mouseover Quick Guide to the different options the user has in getting in touch. Some users prefer calling a central number right away, others prefer accessing local contact details. Some users enjoy a Live Chat option, while others prefer to bomb off an email to the right address. Widening the smorgasbord of full service options shows you have an appreciation for the fact that different users have differing communication ‘love languages,’ which earns kudos with customers and prospects alike.