The majority of today’s customers prefer self-service over traditional forms of support. In a study conducted by Nuance Enterprise, 67% of respondents stated that they preferred self-service over speaking to a company representative. An investment in a self-service tool enables companies to provide efficient support experiences through improved customer knowledge; individuals can resolve problems at their own speed and learn as much or as little as they want. However, the “build it and they will come” logic is not enough to create successful self-service.
Creating an efficient self-service experience is a three-step process:
Step 1 – Identify User Groups
To deliver an effective support experience, organizations must understand the needs of their customers, but who exactly are the customers? When building a plan for self-service, organizations must first stop and review the diversity amongst their customer base. Criteria such as demographics, use case, skill level, and willingness to use self-service must be considered before a site is designed and content is created.
For example, not every customer has years of experience with your product. Some may be newly acquired customers familiarizing themselves with product capabilities for the first time. Further, within both of these groups, you may have customers who are enthusiastic about self-service, while others may prefer to call and talk to support. In this example, four different groups exist with a mixture of skill level and willingness to use self-support. All will have different needs and questions.
This is a very common obstacle organizations face when implementing customer self-service. To combat this challenge, they must create content that addresses the questions asked by each group. Further, they should actively promote the benefits of their support tool and entice each customer to become a self-service evangelist.
Step 2 – Consider the Customer Journey
In order for self-service to benefit customers, it must be well presented. No one wants to learn how to use a self-service tool; it should be intuitive with simplistic design and straightforward navigation. Further, self-service should not feel separate from the Web experience of your customers, but rather a continuation of it. If not, organizations will be unsuccessful in shifting people away from assisted support. Companies can effectively direct customers to relevant content in a variety of ways – prominently display FAQs on the top navigation of your support site, add a support button or link on relevant pages of your website, spotlight articles voted “most useful” by others, and enable users to narrow down results through advanced search filters.
Also, remember to create awareness for those customers still turning to assisted support. When sending a customer resolution via email or chat, include a link to a relevant article housed within your support database. This not only provides the customer with a valuable resource for later reference, but it also promotes self-service as an alternative for their next support experience.
Step 3 – Evolve with the Customer
Customers drive the evolution of self-service. Needs change, new questions gain prominence, and more user groups materialize. To be effective, organizations must evolve with their customers. A self-service database is an ongoing project; feedback enables companies to identify what content should be updated or added to the database. To do this, it is important to engage with customers. For example, send email surveys regularly to discover issues that could be addressed through self-service. Or, ask for an evaluation at the end of a self-service experience. Let your customers be the voice of your self-service site and guide you as you create a community that is most beneficial to them.
By following this three-step process, companies can meet the needs of their diverse customer base, enable users to easily find relevant content, and incorporate customer feedback to create an efficient self-service experience.