15 September 2020

Self-Serve Strategy: Before, During and After A Crisis

Frost & Sullivan recently hosted a Webinar Week Series featuring leading solution providers sharing insights and use cases of organizations taking on the very real challenges we are facing at this moment in time.

We were fortunate to have the opportunity to share a session focused on self-service strategies with Brent Sparks of PayPal, one of PTP’s long-standing clients.


The COVID-19 crisis has challenged us in many ways, but it also has given us an opportunity to re-examine the way we do business. Our old self-service strategy was upended, and we have done our best to react to the dramatically and rapidly changing environment. Now that we (hopefully) are approaching a new normal, what are we going to keep doing? Stop doing? Start doing? 

Recovery is critical to adapt to the new normal. 


Even before COVID-19, PayPal was moving toward automating many self-service tasks. PayPal understands that bots can make customer experience (CX) more dynamic and efficient. PayPal was focused on improving operational efficiencies by providing more accurate routing, with the end goal of creating a “frictionless experience” for customers. Using technology to identify where the customer is in the journey is another goal for PayPal. 

As the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, self-service options became a necessity for many of PayPal’s customers. (In fact, their automation rates have risen by more than 10% since the pandemic began.) As call volume and customer requests spiked  and the ability to provide phone support was not at full capacity  the company needed to accelerate and push more messaging to customers.

They reconfigured how various contact channels were presented and added new service routing options to take advantage of global support availability. The company deployed chatbot technologies and additional help center features, providing important information right up front based on the country, situation, and other customer specifics.


A definite acceleration of digital self-service options occurred, which helped customers in crisis. Yet it was also noted that, given the situation, some people really wanted to talk to a live agent, not just self-serve. To help address this, PayPal added scheduled call-back capabilities to their tech stack. PayPal also reconfigured operations so chatbots could help direct callers to the right place, such as sales or the contact center.

We always advise our clients to assess their current tech stack to ensure they are getting the best return and/or to make changes to accommodate the “new normal” in our COVID-19 world. And PayPal’s tech stack evaluation and smart re-configurations helped them maximize global support. An important lesson learned was the need for agility and easy configurability in deploying different technology functions.  

Companies need to always be aware of evolving customer needs, and build in the technology and processes to accommodate them.  It’s also important to keep your employees’ need in mind, especially in times of crisis.


PayPal’s customer requests and support needs shifted as a result of the pandemic. Many businesses had to make a quick move from a “brick and mortar” model to an online business model.

This required customer support and assistance in the form of discussing and setting up options for a business to make and receive online payments, for example. Although many customer questions were previously transactional, this changed during the pandemic; customer requests grew in complexity.

Overall, the company saw a definite shift to online business models supported by their systems.

PayPal, like so many others, will not return to business the way it was before. Moving forward, they will continue to think about customer needs and the functions that will support them.

All organizations should think about their channel mix, and examine if what works today will be necessary tomorrow. Creating and working with cross-functional organizational teams is now more critical than ever. Breaking down siloes between departments often creates the best CX. Customers do not want or need to understand your organizational structure; they just want their questions or issues addressed effectively and efficiently.


A “new normal” in the customer contact industry – and most industries – will keep unfolding. Smart organizations should continue to get customer and employee feedback and go where the data takes them. New technology and solutions, especially self-service options, will continue to evolve and become more efficient. Bringing an AI-driven higher level of intelligence to customer self-service can help.

Remember to balance technology with a human touch, especially when the customer requires it, like in times like these where uncertainty and emotions are heightened.

Watch the PayPal Webinar Session


I invite you to watch the 30-minute session here to get Brent’s story and hear our tips for ensuring you’re evolving with your customer’s needs to deliver the best CX possible. After you watch, please reach out if you have questions or want to talk more about what is emerging as the CX new normal.  

Reach out if you want to continue this conversation or learn about more ways PTP can help you adapt to what will be the “new normal.”

Authored bY

Crystal Collier

Crystal Collier is an Executive Customer Experience (CX) Consultant with PTP. In her notable career, she has been a pioneer in employee engagement to enhance a company’s CX. She is devoted to transforming CX by improving the interaction between employees and customers in a variety of industries, including interactive entertainment, insurance, automotive, retail, internet and multi-level marketing. She is a featured speaker on customer experience and employee engagement.


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