AppointmentPlus Blog

The Psychology of Self-service: What the Customer Wants

In Parts 1 and 2 of this series, we examined the essential business benefits of offering online self-service scheduling. We also talked about the negative impacts of not offering this self-service technology, and the ways in which it can improve business operations.

In part 3, we’ll talk about “the four big questions” customers use to evaluate their first interaction with you. And we’ll explore how online self-service scheduling helps answer those questions in the affirmative.

A recent article in Entrepreneur1 revealed the four questions every customer asks of a business:

  1. Do you like me?
  2. Do you care about me?
  3. Can I trust you?
  4. Do you know what you’re talking about?

As you may have guessed, if the answers are less than satisfactory, your customers will take their business elsewhere.

What do your customers want?

We’re all consumers, so we already know the basics of customer service. We want a reliable product or service at a fair price. And most of us will agree that outstanding customer service goes a long way.

But what about the desires that are harder to quantify? Those intangibles you don’t even know you want until you don’t get them?

Here’s an example:

Dave wants a new set of tires for his SUV. He knows that buying tires can be expensive and time consuming, and he isn’t looking forward to spending his Saturday morning waiting at the tire shop for a sales person, comparing different models, and figuring out which model is the best deal.

There are a couple of ways Dave’s tire-shopping excursion could go.

  1. Scenario 1:

    He decides to call ahead to make an appointment with a salesperson so he’s not stuck waiting at the shop on Saturday. At the tire shop’s website, he finds the phone number for the sales floor. When he calls, he has to wait on hold while the rep helps the customers who are there in the shop.

    When he finally gets to speak to a salesperson, it takes several minutes for the guy to gather Dave’s contact information, the details about his SUV, and the type of tires he’s looking for. After a few attempts, they manage to agree on a time for Dave to bring his car in.

    On the day of the appointment, Dave arrives at the shop on time. The sales floor is full of customers, but he’s confident he won’t have to wait long because he made an appointment, and they already have all the information about his car.

    But when he checks in at the front desk, he finds out that several people have been booked for the same time slot due to a calendar mix-up. In addition, the salesperson messed up Dave’s contact information, so he has to provide it again. And what Dave hoped would be a quick visit to the tire shop ends up taking up his entire Saturday morning, just as he feared.

    While the tire shop in this example may have the best quality tires at really competitive prices, the long wait and confusion at the front desk are all it takes to prevent a customer from ever making a second purchase. And some will leave in frustration without even completing the first.

  2. Scenario 2:

    Dave goes to the tire shop’s website, as in the first scenario. Only this time, he spots a large button that says “Book Now!” He clicks it, enters his contact and vehicle information, the types of tires he’s looking for, and his desired price range. He then selects a date and time, and clicks “Submit.”

    This time, when Dave arrives at the shop, there’s no problem with overbooking, because the time slot became unavailable once it contained the maximum number of appointments. All of Dave’s contact and vehicle information is correct and printed out. The salesperson is expecting him, and greets him by name.

The happy result

Let’s look at how the four big questions were answered for Dave in each scenario:


It doesn’t take a Mensa member to figure out which scenario is preferable all the way around. In the second scenario, the shop has done everything right. As long as they do a good job of installing Dave’s tires — or promptly take care of any problems — Dave will be back.

And he’ll send more business their way.

In Part 4 of our series, we’ll examine the reasons customers will avoid making appointments with a company that has an outdated scheduling process, and how to turn the tables in your favor.

If you’re just joining our blog series on customer self-service technology, you can catch up on our earlier posts here:
Part 1: Trends in Self-service
Part 2: The Benefits of Self-service Technology

Or, continue on to Part 4, “Why Self-service Technology Is the New Business Differentiator.”

1Tom Borg, “The 4 Things Your Customers Really Want.” Entrepreneur, October 14, 2014.