There was a time when full service was the only option. You’d pull into a gas station and an energetic attendant would rush out to fill your tank and clean your windows. Grocery shopping saw someone else packing your bags and often carrying them out to your car for you. And when it came to banking, a teller was there to help. 

But times have changed. According to a recent customer support survey by Zendesk, over 80% of people would prefer to solve their issues on their own. We are officially in the era of helping ourselves—and loving it. 



What does this mean for banks and credit unions? Shifting your customer support strategy to a predominantly self-service model presents some challenges, but let’s start with the benefits: customer empowerment, lower costs, and a better banking customer experience.


Customer Empowerment

A thoughtful approach to self-service can empower your customers, providing them with the means to learn and understand at their own speed. The experience is pleasant, they find what they need with minimal time spent, and they leave with a positive impression of the interaction.


“69% of customers want to resolve as many issues as possible on their own, and 63% of customers always or almost always start with a search on a company’s online resources when they have an issue.”

Zendesk, 2020


Lower Cost to Serve

A self-service customer journey is far more cost-effective than one that involves interacting with a human agent. Based on a recent report by Gartner, a live channel contact costs on average $8.91, while a self-service contact such as a banking chatbot costs only $0.10—less than 0.01% of the cost of human interaction. 



per contact for live support



per contact for self-service

Source: Gartner


By diverting the majority of inquiries to a predominantly self-service model, you can save money and use your resources more efficiently.

Really Happy Customers

Along with the satisfaction of figuring it out for themselves, your customers will view the interaction as a success. This will be reflected in your C-SAT and Net Promoter scores. Happy customers tend to stick around so this outcome will also have a positive impact on your share of wallet.

Your customers want to help themselves. Embrace this shift in service models. You’re not forcing an inconvenient experience onto them—you’re giving them exactly what they want.



“Taking out operational costs and improving the customer experience become two sides of the same coin. Companies can attain both goals by reducing bad or avoidable volume, such as unnecessary calls to the contact center; offering more self-service options for basic transactions, which customers actually want; and rationalizing the product architecture and mix. These steps lead to a better experience, which accelerates revenues through greater customer loyalty and a larger share of wallet.”

Source: Bain 2019

So…what could go wrong? It turns out there are some important considerations when it comes to shifting to a predominantly self-service model: 


Choice Can Be Expensive and Confusing

Based on what we’ve encountered with our customers, most support models are not simple. Instead, they are a mix of legacy and more modern options that have been bolted together whenever budget and resources were available. 


Today, banks and credit unions support many different service channels including:

  • Phone
  • Web
  • Email
  • SMS
  • Forum
  • Chat
  • App
  • Search
  • Social
  • Other  

This sprawl of channels might make you feel like you have all bases covered. In reality, you’ve created a confusing environment with too many choices. 


Covering all the bases is also expensive. Instead of lowering your cost to serve, you’re increasing it. According to the Gartner guide, as the number of support channels increase, so do the number of contacts made by each customer during their resolution journey. 

The less channels used, the better the overall customer banking experience is.

Source: Gartner


As the number of contacts by each customer goes up, so does the likelihood that some of these interactions will involve a live agent. 


In the Gartner research, about 30% of customers rely on live agents exclusively and 61% use a mix of live and self-service channels. Even though 70% of customers use a self-service channel at some point in their journey, only 9% of them will remain in this lane from start to finish. 


Evolving your support model to lead with self-service means you must simplify it. Don’t confuse your customers with too many options. Keeping it simple allows you to reduce the number of contacts by each customer for a lower cost to serve. 

Change is Inevitable, Embrace It 

To increase self-service journeys and reduce live agent volumes, you’ll have to make adjustments across your entire support environment. These three steps will help you strike a balance between reducing costly agent calls while delivering a positive and satisfying customer experience:


  1. Assess what’s working and what isn’t. As Gartner research shows, customers will use as many lanes as you provide. Simplify wherever possible and eliminate inefficient channels that don’t serve customers who want to resolve their issues on their own. 


2. Right-size your large team of support agents to a smaller, more highly trained team to focus on complex customer issues. 


3. Implement new technology that can pick up the slack without an agent picking up the phone. Our customers rely on Finn AI to deliver this result, providing a conversational banking chatbot that understands 80% of customer queries out of the box. Along with immediate cost-savings, a high volume of calls to the contact center is diverted. This allows their highly trained support teams to focus on more complex customer interactions. 


The best way to serve your customers is to make it as easy as possible for them to serve themselves. We work with mid-sized banks and credit unions to help them achieve this result— leveraging conversational AI banking to simplify self-service interactions. 


Simplicity is key. By paring down how you serve your customers, you can deliver an intuitive, intelligent, and incredibly smooth customer experience at a fraction of the cost. 


Learn more about the journeys we’ve shared with our customers at Fidor Bank, TymeBank, and Banpro.

Access our intelligent AI chatbot from your live-chat platform to automate routine tasks, 24/7 from the comfort of your own home. Contact us.