Ensuring A Successful Customer Self-Service Program

5 min read

Investing in self-service offers your company and your customers ample opportunities for positive growth and experiences. But, a lot goes into ensuring that your self-service is not only doing its job, but fully successful and flourishing. Self-service is not something you can just purchase or download once and expect immediate returns. It is a gradual process of growth that scales with the progression of your company. So, you must aid this growth to ensure its success (think watering a plant).

This article looks into the different internal strategies you should deploy within your organization to help ensure success for your self-service program.

Define What Success Looks Like

Set goals and success measures. Some examples of self-service program goals could be:

  • Build customer success with our products, increase user value and understanding of the products—how to best leverage them and competently troubleshoot issues when they arise. This will correspond to improvement in online product reviews and recommendations by 20%.
  • Make self-service available everywhere customers need help and allow them to quickly and easily find relevant self-help content and perform convenient transactions online. This will correspond to 3x improvement in self-service rates and a 20% reduction in support contacts.
  • Improve engagement with self-service and increase self-service resolutions. This will manifest in the reduction of wait time by 40% and improvement of first contact resolution by 30%.

Set and Monitor KPIs

Based on your program goals, establish a baseline for the KPIs you would like to influence.

For example, if you are trying to reduce common preventable support contact by promoting self-service, you may need to determine what your baseline is for those contacts and measure your progress against that baseline.

To track your program performance against those metrics, review your progress at the end of each week/month/quarter and ask yourself:

  • How many customers chose self-service over an agent?
  • Which self-service journeys create successful resolutions and which are still leading to high contact rates?
  • Where are customers abandoning the self-service process?
  • Which knowledge base articles have received the most and least views?
  • What self-service content can I create to answer customer questions?
  • How can I improve the self-help experience and content to achieve better results?

When answering these questions, remember that your main goal is not to erase contacts altogether, but to boost your customer’s awareness of this new option and help them resolve some of their issues on their own. Therefore, you should be focusing most on preventable contacts.  

Another thing to keep in mind is the versatility of self-service. It doesn’t just provide benefits to your service team, but every department. Therefore, every department should be included in defining their own metrics and objectives in utilizing self-service within their branch.

Start With Low Hanging Fruit

There’s a whole lot that can go into self-service—from mobile and in-app help, to knowledge bases packed with content, to pre and post-purchase help, to personalized customer journeys, to social media strategies, and so much more depending on your unique company and customers' needs. This could become quite overwhelming if you’re just getting started. So, you should remind yourself that you do not need to start with everything. In fact, you should not start with everything, because that will just overwhelm your customers.

So, the best idea is to start small. Pick your customer’s biggest pain points and target those as starting self-service areas to introduce. These should be places that your customers are currently experiencing the most issues with. Transforming these places first will build customer trust as they start to see their issues resolving in a more convenient way. Once you build that trust, it will be easier to continue implementing self-service strategies to new areas where your customers will be excited to seek out help after already experiencing success with your service.

Drive Self-Service Adoption

Customers are simply looking for the easiest and most convenient way to resolve their issues and answer their questions. The key to driving adoption is making sure that self-service is available across different points of the customer journey. To help customers shape their preferences away from phone and email and toward more efficient and convenient options, make sure your customers have easy, quick, and convenient access to useful content that is up-to-date.

Customers today both desire self-service in order to be successful with your products and services, yet they are also inherently resistant to change. When you start introducing self-service and driving adoption make sure to provide a convenient transition to traditional channels like phone, email, or chat.

Make sure that any contact made, on the phone or through a chat, references your self-help and provides relevant information on the support it could provide to the situation at hand.

Help your teams with smooth adoption internally as well. Launching self-service and training all of your current employees on how to properly utilize it is a crucial step. If your employees are not aware of its benefits, or how to use it, they will not be able to relay this to the customer. So as you transition to self-service, ensure that everyone is properly equipped with the training and knowledge they need.

Have a plan in place to drive customers’ awareness of self-service and check out our 10 quick tips on driving adoption of customer self-service.

Be Agile and Keep Improving

Let data guide continuous improvement to self-service experience and content development to help drive your desired outcomes. Two sources are self-service analytics and customer feedback.

Self-Service Analytics: Analytics can help you understand:

  • Self-service utilization
  • Self-service success, escalation, and abandonment rates
  • How existing content is performing to identify content gaps
  • Keyword searches

Customer Feedback: When creating and updating your self-service journeys and content, ask for input from your customers who are and are not choosing to use it. This will give you a well-rounded image of what is working well and what isn’t, which can help inform you on how to move forward and where you should improve. When designing, never make assumptions. Always look to your customer feedback to get the most relevant insight on how you can better serve your customers.

When gathering customer insight, try watching agents in action when handling a customer to learn what works well and what doesn’t. Consider sending out customer surveys that can lead you to a better understanding of why your customer contacts are happening. Keep in mind which contacts you want to continue encouraging, and which you want to prevent. The best thing to remember is that self-service is an ongoing process, always evolving and growing with your customer needs.

success chart self-service

Identify Owner and Encourage Collaboration

Identify individuals or a team that would take ownership of the self-service program. To ensure ongoing success, ideally, this person understands your business inside out with an in-depth knowledge of your products and services and can act as a liaison between various stakeholders and contributors.

A successful self-service program is one that all branches of the company collaborate on, and utilize. New self-service roles, such as knowledge base content creators, should be clearly defined in order to maintain consistency throughout the help center when displaying information from different departments. Taking on the task of creating a knowledge base may seem daunting, but remember that you are starting small and that delegating certain employees’ job tasks to this function will allow for the proper time management to get it done well.

Strengthen Its Value Within Your Team

Investing in a self-service knowledge base might be one of the biggest assets that your organization will create. It has the ability to bring together the collective knowledge that various teams and individuals have and share it when and where that knowledge is needed most—to your customers, partners, and employees. But to ensure this success, you must make sure you are taking advantage of what this service can offer. This means, all teams contribute to the content and utilize content to create a company-wide universal place of information. This should be a place anyone can turn to, with consistent and effective information that everyone within the organization can understand.

This last step is often overlooked, but very important to the success of your team’s adoption of self-service. Oftentimes, agents might see self-service as an automation tool, when in fact, it is an empowering instrument that can free them to spend more time with each customer who needs their help resolving complex matters that require critical thinking and deep knowledge of products and experiences. Reinforcing these values into your team will ensure that they are behind the new service they are being asked to push. If your agents can hold these values of effective and important self-service, it will rub onto your customers more genuinely.

What’s Next?

Ensuring a successful self-service program includes more than just your internal business strategy. For the best results, you also should work to increase your customer self-service adoption, allowing more customers to be aware of what you offer, and shape your customers’ preferences toward self-service.

We also put together 15 powerful examples of self-service from leading brands to inspire success.

David Hayden
Software entrepreneur who enjoys building products that empower business people to create and evolve enterprise applications without code.

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