Customer Service: Here’s Some Tips on How to Ensure Self-Service Success


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Back in April Lauren Carlson, a CRM Market Analyst at Software Advice, provided a guest post (Five Great Customer Service Apps for Mobile) whilst I was away on holiday. More recently, her colleague, Ashley Furness, reached out to me to tell me about a new video that they had made about customer self-service.

Self-service and customers helping themselves are areas that interest me as I see the power and opportunity for business. However, I have not seen many businesses do it very well.

I watched the video and really liked it as it breaks down some of the key elements that are needed to make your self-service initiatives successful. As a result, I asked Ashley to do a bit of an intro for me so I could post it on the blog:

How to Ensure Self-Service Success

Companies have long touted self-service customer communities for shaving manpower costs and speeding response times.

But you can’t just flip on the switch and expect to see a positive impact. Poorly planned discussion forums, public knowledge bases and other self-service customer community channels can actually alienate customers and impact loyalty. You want customers to want to help themselves because it’s easy, faster and in the best case scenarios, fun!

So, how do you ensure your self-service centre is a boon not a bust for business? Zendesk Vice President JD Peterson sat down with analyst firm Software Advice recently to answer this question. He recommended the following components for a thriving system: usability, gamification, employee engagement, measurement and smooth integration with other customer service channels. Each element is essential to ensure your community both solves the customer’s problem and inspires them to come back.

Check out the video below to watch the entire Whiteboard session (it’s only 6 mins long): “How to Create a Thriving Self-Service Customer Community.”

Just to repeat those tips with a few notes of my own:

  1. Usability – Think about language, style, layout just like you would if you were creating any other website or piece or marketing or communication. Don’t cut corners here.
  2. Gamification – I always had a problem understanding and applying the word ‘gamification’. But simply it’s about recognising and rewarding those who contribute and help others ie. your users and your customers. Giffgaff have built a whole business on this principle
  3. Employee engagement – Once you’ve set up you’re self service option don’t expect people to just show up and start helping each other. It might be self service but that does not mean that your customer or users don’t want to see you and your people participating and getting involved too.
  4. Measurement – Watch and measure what works and what doesn’t. It’s the only way that you will know how to improve any self-service option that you are trying to develop.
  5. Smooth integration with other customer service channels – Not everyone is going to find exactly what they are looking for in the language or format that is useful for them. Therefore, giving your users and customers exit options so that they know how to call, mail or chat with you online.

This was a collaborative post by Ashley Furness, a CRM Market Analyst at Software Advice, and myself. You can connect with Ashley via Twitter and on LinkedIn.

What do you think? Are there any additional elements that you would add that would help to build a successful customer self-service option?

Thanks to Illetirres for the image.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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