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Do You Offer Self-Service? Great – Now Keep It Relevant!

Paul Selby | Sep 26, 2017 67 views No Comments

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In the last few years, offering customer self-service has become not only a priority for businesses but table stakes in delivering customer service. Why? According to Forrester’s research in 2016 and again in 2017, it’s clear that customers have an opinion: they’ve become accustomed to it, use it, and even prefer online solutions available anytime, anywhere with no waiting.

Outside of responding to that demand, automating solutions to common problems offers several benefits for businesses. It can reduce costs because agents aren’t tied up with solving simple, high-volume work that can instead be addressed with automation. It also means agents can focus on more complex issues.

But the work isn’t over once customer self-service is in-place. In fact, without monitoring and maintaining your self-service offerings, they can quickly become irrelevant, less useful to customers, and even cause frustration.

Measure and Report Usage

Why did you implement automation in the first place? Was it to save money and time, to raise customer satisfaction, or perhaps both? As you were considering the addition of self-service, did you also set goals for it?

Use metrics prior to self-service implementation like service levels, the volume of one-to-one service request (calls, emails, chats, etc.), and CSAT scores to measure how the rollout of self-service has impacted those measures. Be sure to share what kind of influence self-service has had on your service measurements with your larger organization.

In addition to measuring successes, measure its usage. Which individual solutions–knowledge base articles, automated solutions, etc.–are seeing the most and least usage? What types of solutions are customers searching your website for (so they can be made more accessible)? This information plays a role in other maintenance steps we’ll get into next.

Review and Improve

Like any part of your business, automated solutions don’t remain static: what works today might not be suitable tomorrow. Solutions must be periodically audited.

A Knowledgebase article, for example, might be tied to a current product release, but when that product is updated or modified, is the solution still correct? Or has a more efficient means of solving the issue been discovered? The best practice here is to set periodic review dates for all solutions to ensure information intended to help customers doesn’t end up frustrating them instead.

Business rules and connected systems might also change in the background. Are you periodically testing automated solutions that fire off backend processes? Are the expected results occurring or is the process failing somewhere? It’s all too common for changes and improvements occurring elsewhere in the business to create some havoc with customer self-service, resulting in customer’s self-service request disappearing as a result of a broken workflow.

Granted in both of these examples customers might inform you that the solution fails (heavy emphasis on might). But that comes at the cost of their level of confidence in your solutions, as well as additional difficulty for the customer AND the customer resorting to a telephone call or email to solve their problem (adding to your work).

Curate and Remove

Similar to the prior process of validating each self-service option still functions as intended, this has to do with a solution no longer being needed perhaps due to product obsolescence, replacement, etc. When reviewing usage reporting, you might also find a solution is simply no longer used by customers.

In these cases, eliminate self-service options that are not utilized by customers or are unnecessary. A lengthy catalog of solutions is more challenging for your customer to browse, and lengthy, inappropriate search results may cause them to choose incorrect solutions (or push them to seek service via telephone or email). As with above, the more challenging and frustrating it is for the customers to use self-service, the less confidence they will have in your self-service and the less likely they are to use it in the future.

Not A “Set and Forget” Service

Customer self-service is a great option for your customers. They expect it, and providing solutions online to customers around the clock reduces the workload on your service team. As your company and service are dynamic, you must follow a regular maintenance schedule even with self-service – it’s not a matter of “set it and forget it.”

Periodically check each solution for validity and that its desired outcome is still functioning as intended. In addition to usage reporting that measures its usefulness to customers, review results to get a sense of the big picture and verify you are still delivering against your goals – and remember to share progress against goals and successes throughout your company. Your ongoing care and feeding of self-service will help ensure you are continuously satisfying customers via their preferred service channel in the most efficient means possible.
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