Peter Honebein is a learning psychologist and instructional designer, together with Roy Cammarano, he has written "Creating Do-It-Yourself Customers: How Great Customer Experiences Build Great Companies." Although the book came out 10 years ago, it speaks clearly to the continued growth of self-service and some of the factors which make it attractive to consumers.
5 Types of Customers
Honebein sees the self-service industry drawing on five types of do-it-yourself customers.
• The first is the transactional customer who is willing to carry out the transaction role of doing business. • The next is the traditional customer; this is the classic DIY kind of person: they fix it, build it and renovate it themselves. • Third is the conventional customer. This customer is the co-creator of product value, where all products are viewed as services and - through use of the product - the customer becomes a co-creator of its applications. • Fourth is the intentional customer who wants to be in on the design phase. This customer shops Build-A-Bear stores, designs his own basketball shoes at NikeID.com or builds her own Barbie online. • Lastly, there's the radical customer. This type discovers new ways to use a product; ways that weren't even intended when it was designed. iPOD is one example; it was intended for music, but those radical customers wanted more, so now we have pod casting.
Why is self-service attractive? In the list below, see if you can find any of your own tendencies:
• More people prefer the isolation of self-service to the interaction of customer service. • Individuals who want more control over the customer experience. DIY fulfills that need. • Some people are just shy. They would rather not deal with a person, when it's so easily avoided. • As our lives have become more hectic, time management becomes another big factor in choosing to just do it yourself. • Customers are seeing no value in being served. The interaction takes time they would rather spend on other activities. They want to get in, get out and get on with their lives.
Obviously, there is a spectrum of customers and their desires range from full serve to self-service. The insurance consumer is no different. Not surprisingly, self-service is now available in more parts of the insurance life cycle than ever before.
The attraction to self-service is not just about time savings or reducing the need to interact with a person. Many insurance consumers would choose to be more involved in “creating” their own insurance product. Self-service also meshes perfectly with the agent who is a high touch and an intentional adviser to their clients. Marketing today seems to be all about personalized content. What could be better than crafting responses to a client based on their self-identified needs which they have communicated via a self-service function?
About the author: Jim Gardner is the CEO of ViewSpection, a self-service loss control platform which allows the policyholder to complete their own inspections on any line of business.