3 Ways to Improve Self-Service Options

    Customers want fast, easy answers to their questions, and they prefer seeking them through channels that provide the least amount of friction, writes Forrester analyst Kate Leggett. Thus, they often turn to self-service options first, making this one of the most important components of the overall customer experience.

    If your business can excel at self-service, you’ll benefit from increased satisfaction and loyalty. Contact center managers at small and medium-sized businesses can deliver higher quality self-service experiences through voice, email, web or chat by focusing on three areas: content, tools and training. Here’s how.

    Develop Robust Self-Service Content

    First, make sure customers can find answers to their questions using a self-service option. That seems obvious. But the fact is that although 92% of American consumers expect brands to offer a self-service customer portal, 63% of self-service users weren’t able to find the answer they needed because too little information was available, according to Microsoft’s 2015 Global State of Multichannel Customer Service report.

    Fortunately, you can find what you need to build a more robust knowledge database by tapping the information stored in your contact center. Using the system’s reporting features, you can identify the top reasons customers call for support and use the findings to create your self-service content.

    Integrate Self-Service with the Contact Center

    Customers often move through multiple channels as they try to resolve support issues. They may search for the answer on your website first, then move to a community support forum, and finally reach out by phone. If your contact center solution isn’t capturing the details of these interactions, your agents will need to ask the customer to repeat information such as name and account number. This increases the call’s length and decreases customer satisfaction.

    But when self-service is integrated with the contact center from the start, agents can review these details at a glance before connecting with the customer. This improves both the interaction and the outcome.

    Such integration also helps to improve the quality of self-service. By analyzing how different types of requests are resolved – and understanding what works and what doesn’t, customer service managers can make whatever changes are necessary to improve the effectiveness of self-service.

    Engage Your Agents in Design and Promotion

    It’s likely that no one understands your customers better than your frontline agents. That’s why it’s critical to engage them in any effort to build and improve your self-service options. The consulting firm ICMI recommends observing them to see how they handle different types of customer requests, and modeling your self-service systems based on effective agent practices.

    Agents also can make valuable contributions to self-service content by identifying what must be included, providing feedback on each question’s structure so that customers can easily find what they need, and crafting clear, concise answers. Consider forming an agent task force that can help drive tactics for continued refinement of your self-service capabilities.

    In addition, they can be strong advocates for your self-service options. Be sure to train your agents on their advantages so they can share them with customers. Work with marketing and service teams to embed links or mentions of self-service options in common customer communications and transactional notifications to provide yet another reminder of what is available. As customers become more aware of your self-service features, they’ll turn to them more frequently to resolve simple issues.

    Delivering more effective self-service options requires a mix of better tools, process improvements and cultural change. But by offering customers the right options, SMBs will deliver higher-quality service at lower cost, while raising customer satisfaction at the same time.


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