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Why self-service is the new face of modern customer service

The face of customer service is changing. Today’s customers prefer to find solutions on their own. They choose to have access to self-help resources and sort out their problems themselves.

In fact, 8 out of 10 customers will try to solve their problem themselves before reaching out to a support agent, claims Harvard Business Review. There are many reasons for why this is happening.

Some reasons are socio-cultural, with the generation of millennials simply hating to talk on the phone or via emails (engage in any verbal interaction). Others stem from pure necessity, when people on-the-go need assistance round-the-clock regardless their geographical location, and can’t rely on the working hours of customer support centers.

Yet another reason is as old as the hills – time is money. As our life accelerates at a supersonic speed, customers need answers to their questions right here, right now. Recent studies show that customers now expect businesses to respond to their enquiries in just 1 HOUR, while companies on average respond in 1 DAY (at best).

In fact today’s customers claim that their biggest dissatisfaction with customer experience is slow response times.

Whatever the reasons, one thing is clear – self-service is an increasingly popular trend in customer service!

In fact, it is becoming the preferred method for customer service with 67% of customers claimingthey’d rather use self-service options instead of speaking with a company representative.

Or worse – according to the Aspect Consumer Experience survey, 1/3 of respondents said they’d “rather clean a toilet” than speak with customer service!

Ouch…

What is self-service?

Self-serviceis a type of customer service that allows customers to find the answers to their questions without the need to talk to a customer support representative.

The main objective of self-serviceis to give customers the tools to solve problems and find necessary information.

Fueled by the spread of e-commerce and online communication channels, customer self-service comes in different types: a self-checkout and purchase-tracking portal, a dedicated customer support portal that contains with searchable FAQs, the Knowledge Base – a centralized database (usually comes with a CRM system) with various information about services and products, as well as online discussion forums.

How can you benefit from investing in self-service?

In today’s DIY (do it yourself) age, self-service is no longer a “nice-to-have” option for businesses. It’s a demand!

Over 70% of buyersexpect a company’s website to include a self-service possibility, and 40% of customersprefer self-service to human contact.

But it’s not just the market’s demand that makes self-service so popular. Those the very tangible benefits that any business can enjoy.

Let’s take a look at how your business can benefit from introducing self-service.

Save money by reducing service costs

It’s only logical to start with the most obvious one. Self-service will save you tons of money.

According to Accenture, adding self-service could lead to up to $1-3 millionin annual savings!

It’s rather expensive to hire and train support personnel, make sure all customers receive help in the timely round-the-clock manner, and invest in and maintain the technology that will allow you to service multiple support channels catering to a global customer base.

“The cost of a do-it-yourself transaction is measured in pennies, while the average cost of a live service interaction is […] more than $13 for a B2B company,” statesHarvard Business Review.

So, it’s simply cheaper to have customers solve their own problems, than hire people to do the same thing at a cost.

Become more available

Unlike the traditional human-assisted support, self-service portals are available all day, every day, from anywhere in the world, and on almost any digital device.

This means that your customers are not restricted by your support team’s working hours, and can get help at any time, including weekends and public holidays.

Give your customers freedom and power

The world of business is now dominated by Millennials. According to a CNBS report, they now account for 38%of all workforce and in the next decade they will represent 58%of all working people.

Defining themselves as independent and self-sufficient, Millennials have different expectations when it comes to customer service, preferring speed, versatility and digitalization. To put it simply, when it comes to interaction, Millennials are not exactly the talkative lot.🙄That’s why it’s important to offer them the self-service tools they prefer.

Self-service gives your customers freedom to act when necessary, eliminates time and distance restrictions, and – most importantly – empowers them to solve their own problems, thus strengthening the sense of accomplishment and identification with the brand.

Reduce waiting hours

Time is money. That’s why today’s customers value quick responses to their queries above all.

Research shows that 75%of customers rank “short response times” as number one criterion of a good customer service.

Self-service can help you decrease the number of dissatisfied customers who may feel frustrated or annoyed by having to wait for the support agent on the phone or in the email. It’s more effective to allow customers to “go solo” by searching the database and helping themselves fix simple problems.

Use your support team more efficiently

Most of the time, customer support teams are swamped with smaller, repetitive tasks of (usually) minor importance, such as (for example) resetting passwords and changing their account info.

What if, instead of repeating the same phrases and handling the same trivial requests, your support team could focus on dealing with more complex and urgent cases that require expertise, attention and time?

In the end, if you manage to quickly resolve business-critical complex issues, it will have a more significant impact on your customer satisfaction levels, don’t you think?

And that is exactly what self-service does – it takes a huge load off your team’s shoulders.

But what makes self-service great? There are many tips that could help you better define your self-service offering.  

6 tips to make your self-service offering great

To offer good quality self-service resources to customers, you need to create a web-based self-service portal(akaHelp Center) that could be either integrated into your public website or into a public customer community, or built separately.

Here are just a few best practice tips that will make your self-service resources work effectively.

1.Make self-service visible and mobile

If you want your customers to use self-service support channels, make sure they can easily find them.

Whether it’s a dedicated self-service portal, a section on your website, or a link to the Knowledge base in an email, they have to be clearly visible and recognizable as places where customers can find help and solve their problems.

Also, self-help resources should be available on all platforms and devices, especially today – when people spend most of their time on mobile phones and on the go. And even research proves that 60%of customers have a more favorable view of the business, if their self-service offering is mobile-responsive.

2.Improve search options

One of the key areas when designing a self-service channel is the search option.

It must be easy to find and render very specific results. So, make sure that next to a basic search you have advanced filters and tags that will help customers narrow down their search and find the right content for the issue they have.

The ease and precision of search is extremely important as it is directly related to customer satisfaction: the quicker a customer finds the right answer, the better.

And – I guess it goes without saying – make sure all the links work! 😉

3.Categorize information and offer style consistency

Self-service resources should have a clear logical structure that is easy to navigate. Categorize FAQs, articles, videos, and whatever other types of content you have by topics, types of questions, customer types, complexity levels, technical vs user questions, etc.  

Another tip is to stay consistent. Your customers want to receive seamless and uniform experience in all customer service channels. So, choose your style, tone of voice, screenshot view, numbering, etc. and stick to them throughout all content in your self-service portal. It’s also important to maintain the “look & feel” of your company in self-service.

4.Update content regularly

Just like current news, your content should be fresh and up-to-date.

Make sure your FAQs describe the most typical situations (popular requests) and offer the most recent and clear ways to solve problems. And if you had a system update or a design makeover, you need to make sure that your self-service content reflects the new software or design version.

Also, keep an eye on the new trending topics and update those regularly.

5.Vary information formats

FAQs are by far the most common type of self-help materials. But they shouldn’t be the only one.

Since 90% of the informationprocessed by the brain is visual, it’s only natural that today’s customers prefer visual (video & graphic) content. You must have noticed that yourself; today, when people look for information on how to perform an action or resolve a problem, they tend to (first of all) search for “how-to” videos!

Not surprisingly, the “how-to” videos have become the fastest growing category on YouTube. Videos are perfect for a quick and efficient self-help, as the brain processes visual information 60,000 times faster than text!

Make sure you add video, audio and graphic content to your self-service resources. And, of course, don’t forget to add good-quality screenshots that tell the story much better than lengthy paragraphs of text.

6.Back up with a live chat or a chatbot

There will always be people who won’t find answers to their questions in self-help support centers. This means they will want to contact you for help.

Make sure you offer a variety of contact channels for customers. Including the traditional ones.

However, to reduce costs of phone calls and speed up email communication, you may use live chats or chatbot technology to back up your self-service resources.

Chatbots can quickly respond to customer inquiries, offer links, or even escalate customer requests if necessary and reroute to the live agent.

Self-service is a part of the bigger picture

Self-service is indeed the new face of modern customer service.

It’s not only an option that is demanded by customers, but also a wise investment choice made by businesses. Self-service tools help you offer instant, round-the-clock support at a fraction of the cost.

However, no matter how great your self-service offering is, it cannot replace skilled human personnel that delivers great support, sales and communication experiences.

Customer service comprises of many factors that should complement each other in order to offer a truly seamless and rewarding customer experience that will keep your customers happy and loyal.


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