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STAMFORD, Conn., November 17, 2020

Gartner Identifies Three Self-Service Failure Points That Customer Service and Support Leaders Must Address

Research Shows How Customer Service and Support Leaders Can Improve Self-Service Containment and Reduce High-Effort Customer Experiences

Despite increased investments in a range of digital self-service capabilities, customer service and support (CSS) leaders continue to struggle with three failure points⁠ with self-service containment, according to Gartner, Inc. These failure points include external search, site navigation and self-service capabilities⁠ (see Figure 1).

“These three failure points are all part of a typical customer search journey in the digital age,” said Philip Jenkins, senior research director in the Gartner Customer Service & Support practice. “They create avenues for customers to bypass self-service, contribute to high-effort customer experiences and impact self-service containment by guiding customers to channels ill-suited to their issue.”

Figure 1: The Three Failure Points Responsible for Self-Service Failure

Source: Gartner (November 2020)

The 2020 Gartner Loyalty Through Customer Service and Support Survey of over 6,000 customers revealed that only 13% of customers found resolution wholly within self-service, the rest interacted with a service rep at some point in their service journey. Gartner analysts said this suggests self-service still has much room for improvement. Eighty-two percent of CSS leaders reported they prioritize optimizing self-service capabilities as the best way to reduce assisted-service contact volume. However, this solution only addresses one problem driving self-service failure.

“While CSS leaders should address these three failure points as a whole, every organization should conduct a thorough assessment of its performance in each area to determine which needs the most focus,” said Connor Seidenschwarz, research principal in the Gartner Customer Service & Support practice.

To do this, Gartner recommends that CSS leaders take the following steps:

  • Reevaluate self-service strategy by assessing the potential impact of external search and site navigation, not just self-service capabilities, on self-service containment.
  • Reduce assisted-service contact volume by using search engine optimization to remove or limit access to assisted-service channels in external searches and create a clear pathway to organization-owned customer service pages.
  • Simplify the digital customer journey on the organization’s website by directing customers to relevant self-service capabilities and limiting, or reorganizing, access to assisted-service channels.
  • Reallocate digital self-service investments toward improvements that facilitate external search and site navigation, guide customers to relevant self-service content and, where appropriate, route them to assisted service.

Gartner Customer Service and Support Leaders clients can learn more in the report "Improving Self-Service Containment From Search to Resolution".

About Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders

The customer service and support function is vital to maintaining customer loyalty and influencing brand perceptions. Gartner for Customer Service & Support Leaders provides indispensable insights, advice and tools needed to achieve service and support leaders’ mission-critical priorities, specifically improving the customer experience while managing costs. Gartner’s research, advice and best practices equip customer service and support leaders to design an optimal service channel strategy; measure and reduce customer effort; and hire, develop and retain high-potential frontline talent.

About Gartner

Gartner, Inc. (NYSE: IT) delivers actionable, objective insight to executives and their teams. Our expert guidance and tools enable faster, smarter decisions and stronger performance on an organization’s mission critical priorities. To learn more, visit