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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) is the world’s leading research and advisory company and a member of the S&P 500. We equip business leaders with indispensable insights, advice and tools to achieve their mission-critical priorities today and build the successful organizations of tomorrow.

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