Shaping Customer Preferences Towards Self-Service

3 min read

Customers cannot argue that the self-service channel is the faster and more convenient route. It is proven that customers show an overwhelming preference for self-service. Across different industries, 81% of all customers take care of matters themselves before reaching out to a live representative. Yet still, it feels like your customer support team cannot take a breath as the contact volumes and overall support costs keep going up.

Changing people’s behavior is hard. Once customers become accustomed to emailing or calling, chances are, next time they have another question, they will just do the same. Resistance to change is natural. So, how do you proactively drive the change?

In this article, we will explore five core principles that, when brought together, will help your organization drive self-service adoption and shape customer preference toward self-service.

Make Self-Service Familiar

Shaping your customers’ preference toward self-service starts with understanding their current buying and servicing journey and identifying specific areas where they need help. One of the best and simplest ways to identify points of frustration is to analyze your contact data and customer feedback.

Another great way to experience your customers’ journey is just to do it. Be an undercover boss and step into your customer’s shoes—try discovering if one of the products meets your needs, complete the purchase, go through the onboarding process and troubleshooting issues, call your support line and see for yourself how easy or not so easy it is to get it resolved over the phone. Take this all the way to resolution—from searching for contact phone numbers or emails to making contact and asking questions, to working through different aspects of the issue (maybe being transferred to different departments or specialists), all the way until the issue is finally resolved.

And while you do all that, look for the areas that could be best served by convenient self-service options. Would a compatibility checker on the product page help avoid confusion and reduce product returns? Would troubleshooting step-through help diagnose the issue and fix it by a simple reset? Opportunities for self-service are innumerable and customers will prefer it if it is along the path of least resistance.

Make Self-Service Easy

Once you thoroughly understand your customer journey, make self-service the easiest option. Make it easy to use, personalized and relevant, and available everywhere customers need help. Whenever possible, keep customers on the webpage they are on to avoid sending them to another subdomain or external source. Make it easy to search and navigate and present only information pertinent to the customer’s product, process or issue. If you know something about the customer like the product they own, the region they are in, or the type of customer they are, use that data to personalize.

Simple, clear, and concise language can go a long way too. Do not introduce journeys with complicated terminology because this will just encourage the customer to call or message, rather than figure it out through your self-service. Using the language your customers understand will help prevent confusion, making it easier for them to navigate different processes on their own.

Make Self-Service Desirable

Customers will always prefer self-service once they discover that it is a valuable tool and resource they can use at any time. Help them be successful with self-service by always keeping knowledge base content up-to-date and accurate. As your company continues introducing new products and product features or updates, make sure to keep your content up with all the innovation. The newest product or service your company launches is probably going to be the one that most people have questions with or seek information for. Therefore, consider creating and updating self-service content and experiences ahead of launch.

Make Self-Service Rewarding

One way to make it more desirable for customers to use self-service before contacting your support team is to present dynamic contact options at the end. This will get them directed toward the right agent via the best channel for their specific type of product or issue. Customers may also be able to request a callback and schedule the time of day that would best work for them.

Offering incentives to your customers for choosing self-help over contacting is a good way to draw in the people who may not have chosen to do so organically. Making self-help preferable to calling is sometimes more than just ensuring it is an easier and more convenient option because some customers are a bit more stubborn about their preferred method. So to curb this, offer things like a prize giveaway or promo codes for choosing a certain online journey instead of calling. This might appeal to that more apprehensive crowd.

Make Self-Service a Habit

Once your customers discover the value of the easy-to-use self-service option, how can you encourage them to keep coming back for more? Reinforce and remind your customers that self-service is the best service. Feature it prominently, make it accessible, keep it up to date. Your customers will thank you for that!

What Else?

Shaping your customer’s preferences is not the only step in creating successful self-service. You must also ensure your self-service program is successful with your internal business strategies and work to increase adoption of this new system you have created. Shifting your business to putting customers first is a great step to helping your customers trust your company, and ultimately, choose self-help. But, you still must work to align your internal efforts with leveraging self-service benefits, while working to make your customers aware of what you are providing. It is a tricky act to balance, but one that will allow your customers to flourish as your company grows.

I love to write with one goal in mind - to help you build amazing customer experiences. Our content is tailored to help you understand your customers, design great products and deliver world-class customer self-service. I share my knowledge and experience through my articles, videos, podcasts, templates, and more - so you can take your customer experience to the next level.‍

Want to learn more about what we offer?

Explore the stages of our product tour and the self-service solutions we provide to see how our diverse applications can work for you.

Explore more blog posts!

That's not all! Our blog has tons to offer. Explore more posts below to keep learning!

no code customer experience

No Code Digital Customer Self-Service Platforms - The Benefits

Customer Self-Service

As the world increasingly moves online, businesses are looking for ways to improve their customer experience (CX). Building digital customer experiences does not have to be complicated or time-consuming. With the right tools and approach, you can create amazing customer experiences without a single line of code. In this blog post, we'll discuss different approaches to creating managing, and optimizing the customer experience.

continue reading →
customer self-service portal

Customer Self Service Portals: Benefits and Must-have Features

Customer Self-Service

Customer self-service portals provide an efficient way for customers to access content, perform convenient transactions and resolve common issues on their own, without having to call or email customer support. But not all self-service portals are created equal. In order to be effective, they need to have certain key features. Read on to find out what top features you should be looking for when building your customer portal.

continue reading →
knowledge base content planning

How To Select the Best Knowledge Management System for You

Knowledge Management

There is a lot to consider when evaluating and selecting the best system for your needs. In this blog, we will cover where to search for solutions and what to include on your shopping checklist.

continue reading →
building customer knowledge

Building Customer Knowledge

Knowledge Management

Customer knowledge is rooted in self-service and is fundamental for any successful business. It strengthens product success, which ultimately, creates a successful customer experience as a whole. And this is so crucial today.

continue reading →
customer centric culture

Develop customer-centric vision and culture

Customer Experience

Are you looking for ways to create a customer-centric vision and culture in your business? If so, we're here to help. In this post, we'll outline four steps you can take to create a customer-centric culture in your business. Let's get started!

continue reading →