Customer self-service should:
- Provide a low-effort support channel for customers.
- Increase customer loyalty by allowing customers to successfully self-serve.
- Deflect support tickets by providing a guided self-service experience.
- Reduce mean-time-to-resolution by allowing agents to quickly find complex solutions for customers.
- Provide analytical data to leverage in the decision-making process to optimize strategies.
Take inventory of customer support calls
Before creating a plan, identify when and why customers need support. Find out where customers experience the greatest friction in finding solutions and any related obstacles. Encourage your support agents to ask specific questions when on a support call and to record the answers:
- What issue was the customer trying to solve?
- How often did the customer attempt to solve the issue?
- Did the customer attempt to solve the issue through other channels before calling support?
- Where did the customer look for solutions to the issue?
- Where did the customer look first for a solution? (Important!)
- Which channels did the customer use to try to resolve the issue (phone, web, chat, etc.)?
- Which channel would the customer have preferred to use to resolve the issue?
- If the customer looked for solutions via any of your channels, did the customer find a partial solution or a solution addressing a similar issue?
Determine self-service strategy stakeholders
Self-service strategy stakeholders are responsible for identifying the most effective self-service channels and designing strategies for implementing a low-effort self-service experience for your customers. Self-service strategy is a cross-departmental effort that should include subject matter experts such as content strategists, user experience designers, information architects, technical writers, customer success managers, support agents, product managers, and any other expert who will directly or indirectly contribute to content.
Identify your self-service channels
The data gathered during your initial inventory should reveal where your customers prefer to find information. If your customers are a typical representation of customers in general, they likely started their attempt to resolve an issue by searching in Google. Instead of letting your customers find random third-party forums or review sites, your self-service strategy can lead them directly to your help content.
Implement your self-service strategy
The most important component of an effective self-service strategy is to eliminate obstacles for customers.
- From your support call inventory data, review those questions that revealed dead-end or high-effort interactions for customers. Prioritize creating content that could guide customers to a solution.
- Establish an authoring workflow and assign writers, editors and reviewers as necessary to ensure content is vetted by all subject matter experts.
- Eliminate obstacles. The following obstacles will keep your customers from becoming successful product adopters and loyal advocates:
- Content behind logins
- Unstructured content
- Dead-end knowledge base articles or PDFs
- Partial solutions
- Analyze your content. If you have identified the issues your customers are trying to solve most commonly, design linked content paths that guide customers to solving those issues. If necessary, create new content to fill in missing steps. Your self-service content should have the following characteristics:
- Content can be easily found by Google
- Content is web based
- Content is responsive on all devices
- Content can be created as microcontent
- Content can include visual media
- Content can be linked
- Content can be updated real-time
- Content can be measured
- Content is easily navigated
- Content can be easily moved
- Content can live in one place in a hierarchy but be plugged into several procedures
- Create guided paths. Write micro-procedures and combine them with other micro-procedures to create self-service paths your customers can follow with as little effort as possible.
Allow agents to access your self-service content via your CRM
The benefits of an effective self-service strategy extend beyond your customers. If you integrate help content into your ticketing system, your support agents will reap the benefits of immediate access to solutions.
Test and audit your self-service strategies
As with any strategy in place, set up test and audit schedules to ensure that your strategies remain effective while you take action to continuously improve the self-service experience:
- Ask your customers how easy it was to solve a problem on their own and adjust content and as needed.
- Schedule audits to periodically inventory the health of site and content and to measure the effectiveness of your implemented strategies.
- Leverage user event data to better understand your customers’ behaviors. Use MindTouch Reports or business intelligence tools to allow for informed decision-making when iterating and optimizing your self-service strategy.