In 2011, Gartner estimated that by 2020, 85% of all customer interactions would be handled without a human agent. And for the most part, they were correct. Most customer service is now handled online. As a customer, you may be curious about how the shift to online service can affect your needs.

Recent advancements in AI technology make it possible to have the best of both worlds, combining aspects from traditional online customer service and self-support tools. The fact is self-service is the future of customer service.

What is self-service?

Man using self-service technology provided by a company

From ATMs and salad bars to self-checkout at the grocery store and ticketing apps, many of our service interactions today are performed by us. Hubspot refers to self-service as “proactive customer service that provides support for customers who want to find their own solutions.” Instead of calling in to talk with a representative, customers troubleshoot and solve issues themselves by using tools provided by the company. Customers have access to resources like chat bots, video guides, and other self-service tools to find the answers they need.

In fact, customers tend to prefer this form of service, since it allows them to solve issues in their own time. It’s typically more efficient and quicker than calling or chatting. Let’s look at some of the other benefits of self-service tools.

The benefits of self-service technology

Woman using self-service kiosk at the airport

There are plenty of benefits and upsides to using self-service technology. Self-service is quick, convenient, and reliable.

  • Quick. In a global survey conducted by PwC, 70% of customers say fast, convenient answers are their top priority when it comes to provider services. Because most self-service tools are self-paced and self-guided, you can answer support questions at your own tempo.
  • Convenient. Holidays and after-hours aren’t blockers with self-service tools. Rather than waiting until a call center is open or until a representative is available, you can work around your own schedule.
  • Reliable. Self-service offers consistent and reliable solutions to common questions through FAQ’s, how-to videos, and step-by-step guides.
  • Why customers love self-service tools

    According to a customer survey conducted by Microsoft, 86% of people expect a self-service option, and two-thirds of people will try a self-service option before contacting a live agent. One of the main reasons customers contact call centers is to find answers quickly. However, self-service eliminates unnecessary wait times, making it a quicker and more efficient service method.

    Customers also love self-service for its empowerment. Instead of feeling stuck with limited options for getting help, you can take matters into your own hands, solving problems with a helpful guide.

    CenturyLink’s self-help tools

    Person using a self-service tool in public

    CenturyLink has plenty of self-help tools to help streamline your customer service experience and put an end to unnecessary wait times. Here are just some of the things you can do using CenturyLink’s self-service tools:

    1. Troubleshoot your phone and internet service

    The Service Troubleshooter is a robust tool that runs diagnostic tests on your CenturyLink line to determine if there are any problems with your phone or internet service. It checks for known outages in your area or detects if the problem is specific to your service, such as a disconnected modem, slow speed troubleshooting tips, or suspended service.

    If the tool can’t diagnose your problem, it will direct you to the right troubleshooting resources and self-help articles. If further help is needed, it allows you to chat with an agent on the spot or schedule a repair request. Before you get started, you’ll need your account number or billing phone number and service zip code. The tool runs several tests and can automatically fix several issues with your account, so it’s a great place to start if you’re having issues with your service.

    2. Check for an outage

    CenturyLink’s Outage tool allows customers to search for an area outage using only an address. If an outage is found, the tool will tell you so, and you will be given the opportunity to receive updates via text, phone or email. If an outage is not detected, you will be directed to the Troubleshooter.

    3. Make payment arrangements

    If you find yourself in a financial pinch or need extra time to pay your bill, you can use the tool to break up your payments into more manageable amounts and schedule them automatically. There are four options to suit your needs and make it easier to make your payments, depending on your cash flow. Whether you choose to pay a past due amount, break up payments, or make an early payment, the Payment Arrangements tool helps you gain some extra time to pay your bill.

    4. Pay your bill online

    Make one-time bill payments online with our Quick Bill Pay tool. No sign-in is required and your information is not stored. Just enter your account number and zip code and pay with a credit card or bank information. It’s quick, easy, and most importantly, secure. Note that to use saved payment information, you need to log in to your account online or in the app and pay from there.

    5. View, schedule, or reschedule appointments

    With the Service Appointment Manager, you gain control of any scheduled service. You can reschedule or cancel service appointments to fit your calendar. Have you recently signed up or changed your service with us? You can view your appointment time window for a technician install, and view your appointment history for any closed or canceled technician visits. Your appointment history is a great way to track what issues you have had in the past, which can be helpful if you’re seeing the same issue again and again.

    6. Run an internet speed test

    Want to check your speed? Run an internet speed test with our free tool. It takes about 30 seconds and helps you check both download and upload speeds. Our test also provides statistics about jitter and ping to help diagnose any issues, in case your internet isn’t running as quickly as it should be. Some variables that can impact the results of an internet speed test include whether you’re connected to the internet via WiFi or Ethernet cable, how far away from the modem you are, and how many devices are currently connected to your WiFi network. To get an accurate picture of internet speed, you should run the test a few times. You should also test your internet speed from one device, preferably connected directly to the modem by Ethernet.

    CenturyLink support center

    The CenturyLink support center is full of support articles, videos, and tools to help you avoid those pesky wait times. Choose from our list of trending help topics, such as finding your username and password or improving the WiFi signal in your home. Download the CenturyLink app to access tools and features from your mobile device, which can be handy if your internet isn’t working. And on the Discover blog, you can explore helpful how-tos and informative topics to enhance your life with technology.

    What self-service tools would you like to see from CenturyLink next? Leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your thoughts!

    Emily Richey is the Content Manager for the CenturyLink and Quantum Fiber blogs. A recent graduate of Pace University NYC, she's an avid reader and writer. She spends most of her free time in bookstores and cafes, seeking the perfect cup of coffee.