A Definition of Self-Service Software
Self-service software delivers electronic support so that customers can access answers, information, and help online without interacting with a service representative. Essentially, self-service software puts customers in control of their own service experience. Self-service software has intuitive capabilities and helps customers quickly solve problems on their own, so that customers gain a feeling of pride and accomplishment when they come into contact with a company that utilizes self-service software. Examples of self-service software include frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages, how-to articles, virtual agents, and troubleshooting guides.
Why Self-Service Software Is Important
Companies and organizations of all sizes are under pressure to lower contact center costs, but they cannot afford to negatively impact customer service in the process. The answer lies in self-service software. The savings associated with self-service software are realized because website self-service does not take even a second of time from the customer service team. The key is to select a self-service software solution that is easy for customers to use and that gives them a sense of satisfaction every time they interact with your organization.
Advantages of Self-Service Software Portals
Specific advantages of self-service software are numerous, especially because customers want quick answers to their questions and typically would rather find their own answers than wait on the phone. Satisfying customer experiences boost a company’s bottom line, as happy customers often transform into loyal customers who continue to resolve their issues online. Software Advice shares five ways customer service platforms that offer self-service knowledge bases help companies cut costs:
- Saves staff time by answering simple questions – Most basic customer service needs can be solved online without human assistance, as long as companies have made the information easy to access. Keep in mind that a recent Software Advice study shows that 47% of consumers always search online first for answers to customer service questions, and an additional 23% usually search online first. This allows staff to better address the needs of VIP customers, as well.
- Creates more informed customers and communities – Consumers are creating online communities and product-based forums to help one another learn how to use and fix products. Companies can take advantage of existing forums by designing self-service resources around the discussions in the forums.
- Reduces repetition and lowers staff attrition – Especially for call centers, repetitive conversations are a leading cause of service support staff attrition. Companies should use metrics to evaluate self-service knowledge base resources from customers’ points of view, using the customers’ language in order to improve online resources to answer common questions and reduce repetition for staff.
- Improves search engine visibility – It’s important that answers to customers’ questions are easy to find online. By using search engine optimization, companies ensure their information is easy to find when customers search online
Best Practices in Implementation & Deployment
Self-service software offers many benefits when implemented correctly, but there are several best practices in implementing self-service software that enable organizations to achieve maximum benefits. Anecdotally, CIO outlines the best practices used by Blue Cross and Blue Shield (BCBS) of Minnesota in implementing a customer self-service solution, including:
- Surveying customers to find out what they really want from a self-service initiative from your organization. Doing so allows you to target features and resources to specific customer needs, so your customers will want to use it.
- Conducting ongoing usability and usefulness tests. When customers become frustrated or fail to find what they need from self-service options, they turn to more costly solutions – such as your call center.
- Integrating your self-service solution with your CRM. Choosing a solution that integrates seamlessly with your existing systems will save you hassles integrating service channels later on.
- Provide up-to-date, relevant information. Self-service portals are less valuable to customers if the information is outdated and doesn’t accurately address current needs and challenges.
While this highlights a specific implementation, these same best practices should be kept in mind regardless of the specific self-service software vendor or instance to successfully help your business more efficiently and effectively service customers.
Challenges of Self-Service Software
There are some challenges associated with self-service software, especially if an organization implements it under the assumption that it is a panacea for reducing costs, eliminating customer interactions, providing a quick fix, or satisfying all customers and their needs. Like any customer service channel, self-service software must be implemented properly and evaluated to determine its effectiveness and to determine which areas of the self-service software solution need to be improved.
One of the most common issues with self-service software is that customers do not know it is available for use. Organizations need to roll out their self-service software solutions to customers with marketing initiatives, so they know exactly what the self-service software provides. Organizations also must ensure that their self-service software is as easy to use as possible, so that it solves the majority of customers’ needs in a satisfying manner.
In fact, providing satisfactory customer service is a must, because 59% of 23-34 year olds now share poor customer experiences online, which quickly damages a company’s reputation. On the other hand, 69% of Americans would recommend a company to others after having a positive customer experience. Self-service software solutions integrate with company’s existing websites, giving customers a means to achieving their goals quickly and efficiently. The convenience and knowledge of your self-service software could make a world of difference to your company’s bottom line.
Boosts workplace training and job satisfaction – Naturally, when simple questions are answered through self-service software, customer service staff spends more time answering challenging questions and growing their skills and knowledge. Staff with enhanced skills are better equipped to resolve complex issues and to provide solutions on the first call.