Last time you went to the supermarket, how did you buy your groceries? Did an employee scan each of your items and ask you for paper or plastic? Or did you use the self-checkout option instead? Whatever your answer, you can’t deny that self-service is everywhere now. Though grocery stores aren’t likely to go the way of the gas station, customers everywhere are taking advantage when they can of self-service.

According to Gartner, the year 2020 will see customers managing 85 percent of their relationship with a company without any human interaction. That doesn’t mean that they’re working with robots instead; customers are just becoming more independent. Surveys find that 50 percent of customers want to solve product or service issues themselves, and 70 percent now expect self-service applications on a company’s website. Why this trend, and how can you take advantage of it? Read on.

Why Self-Service

Today’s customer is busy. Once it was acceptable to be placed on hold while trying to buy airline tickets over the phone. Now, any time spent on hold or waiting feels like an eternity.

With the rise of apps and social media, the rising generation is simply accustomed to performing tasks without human support. “Customers aren’t just embracing the do-it-yourself model of customer support. They are demanding it,” says Don Brown, CEO of Interactive Intelligence. “Younger people are used to dealing with automated systems and less inclined to need to talk to a human being. Smart companies see this as an opportunity to create a better customer experience.”

Helping Customers Help Themselves

Self-service doesn’t mean less work on your part—only different. You still need to put in a lot of research, planning, and design to make the self-service experience as easy as possible for your customers.

Have you ever tried buying produce at the supermarket’s self-checkout? How instinctive was that process? Between weighing potatoes and looking up serial numbers, how long does it take for you to get frustrated with the whole thing and wish you’d gotten in the traditional checkout lane? Compare that experience with the last time you pumped gas into your car. How many steps were involved then? Swipe your card, select the gas, insert the nozzle, put it back, and drive away. Each step flows naturally into the next. Is it any wonder that self-service has become the default at gas stations while only an option at the supermarket?

Showing Them How It’s Done

Just because customers don’t want to interact with a human doesn’t mean they won’t benefit from watching or listening to one. Four times as many consumers prefer watching videos about products to reading about them, and 25 percent of consumers lose interest when a company doesn’t have video. Multimedia will be your most powerful tool in ensuring that your customers understand and use your product properly.

Consider moving all of your customer onboarding, FAQs, and product tutorials to video. Services like OneMob allow you to create short, customizable videos for your clients and track user engagement. Record your CEO speaking directly to the customer; make a video answering a specific question that comes up all the time; walk customers through the buying or using process step by step. Your goal should be to give customers enough information that they never feel the need to actually call in for help.

Self-service is a fine line you need to learn to walk: trusting customers to make all their own decisions and actions but holding their hands every step of the way. It isn’t about removing human interaction from the equation—only changing the way that interaction takes place. Empower your customers, and they will reward you with greater business.


Sati Hillyer is the founder and CEO of OneMob, Inc. Before starting OneMob, he spent 8 years at, where he built and grew the AppExchange from an idea to 2000 apps. OneMob is an App Innovation Partner on the AppExchange where they make recording, sharing and tracking video easy for any professional. Companies like Cisco, LinkedIn, Zoom, Sacramento Kings and more use OneMob to engage with their customers and employees in a more personal and effective way. Learn more at