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.
Most customers prefer to solve issues themselves rather than call support. When a question arises, they will attempt to self-serve in a variety of channels, including Google, in-product, chatbot interfaces, virtual assistants, and support sites. Most will start with the easiest channel available and only move to the next layer of self-service if they absolutely have to. The easier it is to use these channels, the more likely customers are to handle issues on their own.
As customers move through these layers, their effort level increases alongside the chances they will abandon the channel—or the journey— altogether.
Reasons for abandonment per channel:
- External search - Lack of relevant, branded search results, or too much content from competitors and other SERP hijackers.
- Branded webiste - Poor navigational experience, content gaps, and lack of personalization.
- Chatbot - Slow, inaccurate responses, irrelevant content, and “dead ends.”
- Live chat - Having to repeat oneself, lack of agent knowledge, or improper routing.
How to improve self-service experience
Take inventory of customer support calls
Identify when and why customers need support. Find out where customers experience the greatest friction in finding solutions and any related obstacles.
- 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?
- Which channels did the customer use to try to resolve the issue (phone, web, chat, etc.)?
- Which channel would the customer prefer to use to resolve the issue?
Optimize content experience
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. Self-service content should have the following characteristics:
- Easily found by Google
- Responsive on all devices
- Created as microcontent
- Include visuals or media where helpful
- Ability to update real-time
Allow agents to access 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 benefit from efficient access to solutions.