Customer service has long been an industry heavily reliant on interactions between customers and a company representative or contact center agent. But with the right resources in place, great customer service can also take place without an agent through customer self-service.
There will always be customers who want verbal interactions, and telephone customer service remains an important part of customer experience offerings. But as the demand for customer self-service rises, businesses must adapt.
Ideal customer self-service can be a time-saving, cost-saving, easy way to provide customers with the solutions they need. But a simple FAQ page and search box are not nearly enough. Today’s customers expect answers at their fingertips, and customer self-service is a great way to maximize your resources.
Why You Need Customer Self-Service
Customer self-service empowers customers to find answers and resolve concerns on their own with tutorials, FAQs, automated handling of basic tasks, and other support material — without the need for a contact center agent. It’s a smart strategy for organizations of any size.
Clients Like To Try To Figure It Out Themselves First
Before contacting the company with their question, most clients prefer to search for the answer themselves. Think about it: How many times have you Googled how/where/when to do something before getting in touch with the company to assist you?
Forums and YouTube videos suddenly become our best friends. Unless it’s too technical or absolutely needs an agent, in most cases, many customers like to try to work it out on their own. Gen Z, in particular, is looking for convenience — 76% of them said they prioritize it over brand in a Salesforce survey.
Customer Self-Service Reduces The Workload Of Your Agents
The more you can efficiently redirect clients to self-service, the more time agents have to bring added value to cases and customers who truly need that personal touch, or have complex concerns that only a professional can address.
Stimulate agents and bring them new challenges. Not only will you save agents from boredom and mind-numbing work, but most importantly you’ll maximize their potential.
24/7 Answers — Without 24/7 Staffing
Customers have needs around the clock, often outside of the typical 9-to-5. But it’s not always feasible to have contact center agents on call at all hours of the day and night. Customer self-service is a great solution.
With customer self-service options available anytime, customers don’t need to wait until your contact center opens up again for the day. And while these resources may not offer the perfect solution every time, customers can independently answer their basic questions.
Maintain a Strong Brand Reputation
According to a 2022 Zendesk report, 70% of consumers expect brands to have a self-service option. So if you’re opting out of self-service, your brand’s reputation is at risk.
On the lighter side, 89% of customers with a great customer service experience will likely buy from the same company again. So self-service pathways can secure your brand as a true favorite in your customers’ eyes.
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How To Create Great Customer Self-Service
Here are four key strategies to create and promote an excellent customer self-service experience.
1. Provide In-Depth Answers
Although the customer’s questions might seem obvious to you, remember that you and your team are the experts. And customers are not. Every answer should be thorough and well-thought-out. Many companies make the error of having too little information available to customers. Err on the side of abundance.
Help customers by providing them with all the possible customer self-service tools. A more detailed answer doesn’t mean it has to be lengthy. Don’t hesitate to use screenshots, tutorials, recorded webinars, links, and so on to help create a rich customer self-service journey where clients feel they are being accompanied every step of the way.
Related Article: 4 Easy Tips on Avoiding Bad Self-Service Implementation
2. Promote Self-Service
Go beyond the search box at the top of your page and create popups and links where potential questions may arise. At the bottom of an answer, provide links to related challenges so customers can easily navigate to the answers.
If a customer is about to make a purchase but forgot to check the return policy, for example, linking to the complete shipping and return policy on the checkout page is not only proactive but helps the client move along the customer self-service journey.
By putting yourself in your customers’ shoes, you’ll be able to provide the right information at the right time and in the right place. The key to customer self-service is to bring the information to the customer so they don’t have to look for it.
3. Create User-Friendly Content
If it looks confusing, customers are likely to give up and resort to getting in touch with one of your agents. Therefore, customer self-service needs to be easy to understand.
Avoid complicated jargon and abbreviations. Instead, opt for a straight-to-the-point approach. Take care to create a customer self-service interface that’s truly designed for the customer. Break information down into bite-sized pieces, use visuals, and create videos that make information consumption fast and easy.
4. Make It Interactive
To ensure that your customer self-service is working, there’s no one better to ask than the customers who use it. Consider including a comment section and “Was this helpful?” field at the end of every piece of content. Or create a forum where agents can interact and answer questions that might not have yet been addressed so they can be viewed and accessed by other customers.
Making self-service interactive is essentially like getting feedback from your customers and provides you with a wealth of information to know what’s working and what needs improvement.
Types Of Customer Self-Service Strategies
Customer self-service should be so much more than a brief FAQ page. When done well, it can have the potential to move clients along their journey and unburden agents so they can focus on bringing real value. Plus, customers will appreciate how your brand provides them with the right tools to figure out the answers themselves.
Here are four types of customer self-service to boost your customer experience:
1. Customer Self-Service Portals
Unless your business can afford to employ customer service representatives around the world and around the clock, you will most likely have customers who have trouble reaching your company during your set business hours. If they can easily find what they are looking for on a customer self-service portal, they will certainly be more satisfied with your support offerings.
An additional perk of a customer self-service portal is that it can decrease your customer service costs. McKinsey found that companies that use technology to improve customer service can reduce costs by 20-40%.
2. Mobile Options
Including a mobile app or mobile version of your site in the types of customer self-service you offer can be key. Ensure the mobile version of your site is user-friendly since browsing a site from a smaller screen can be challenging.
Apps offer the same perks, but also offer push notifications and updated capabilities to keep your customers informed about company and service updates.
3. Bots and AI
When you think of bots in a customer service context, you likely think of live chatbots. Artificial intelligence can be helpful as a tool in customer self-service.
Live chatbots are a great way to intervene amid customer confusion. Many company sites have a popup chat window that appears after a certain amount of time spent on the website.
These bots are great to help guide the customer to the answers they are looking for. If the bot can’t deliver a satisfactory response, this technology can further empower self-service by directing customers to a form, an email address, or a direct phone number to escalate the concern, so your contact center agents can respond personally.
Related Article: 7 Proven Ways to Manage Contact Center Agent Staffing Shortages
4. Functional Automated Phone Systems
While some people prefer calling a customer service department, others only do it as a last resort. An easy way to make your customer’s day is to offer them the options of speaking with a representative or using an automated menu system to perform the tasks they were calling for.
Following menus and giving inputs using their dial pad can be a quick way to accomplish tasks without having to allocate an agent to a task. This is a great type of customer self-service for people on the go who don’t always have internet access to use your website.
We live in an age of technology-based independence. Whether people are calling in, logging on, or just using your various types of customer self-service, you will always be behind their successful experiences.
Even if your customers prefer to solve problems without directly interacting with you or your agents, you still owe them the best experience you can offer. For more, request a demo from Playvox.