Your customer self-service is failing – here’s why


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Offering customer self-service has gone beyond simply being a priority for businesses–now it’s table stakes. Why? Both Forrester and Gartner agree: customers are accustomed to it, use it, and even prefer online solutions available anytime, anywhere with no waiting.

Notwithstanding this importance with customers, offering self-service 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 knowledge base articles, chatbot conversations, and automation. It also means agents can focus on new and more complex issues–which might also be resolved by self-service later.

But the work isn’t over once customer self-service is in-place. In fact, like any tool, an investment in self-service can quickly become worthless. When that occurs, it can even be harmful to the customer experience because those incorrect answers frustrate rather than benefit the situation. The remedy is to perform continual maintenance on self-service tools.

Measure impact and usage

Why was self-service implemented in the first place? Was it to save time and costs, to raise customer satisfaction–perhaps a little of both? While considering the addition of self-service, what goals were put in place (or should now be put in place)?

It’s important to measure how adding self-service affects typical contact center measurements. Evaluate impact on service levels, the volume of one-to-one service requests (calls, emails, chats, etc.) offset, and changes in customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores.

Besides impact on the typical service center metrics, ongoing usage must be monitored. Which individual solutions and the channels they are delivered in–knowledge base articles, chatbot interactions, automated solutions, etc.–are experiencing the most and least usage? What types of solutions are customers searching for? This will help guide maintenance and improvement efforts.

Review and improve

Like any other part of business, solutions don’t remain static: what works today might not be suitable tomorrow. For this reason, solutions must be periodically reviewed for applicability.

A knowledge base article, for example, might be tied to a current product release, but when that product is updated or modified, is the solution still correct? Has a more efficient means of solving the issue been discovered or the problem permanently resolved? Set periodic review dates for all solutions–everything: knowledge base articles, chatbot conversations, automated solutions, etc.–to ensure information intended to help customers doesn’t end up frustrating them instead.

Solutions that rely on business rules, connected systems, and workflow might also change. Automated solutions that fire off backend processes must also be periodically tested to ensure the expected results or occurring and not failing. It’s all too common for changes and improvements occurring elsewhere in the business to create some havoc with customer self-service, resulting in customers’ self-service request disappearing as a result of a broken workflow.

Retire and remove

Just as self-service options must be validated they are functioning as intended, there are times a solution is no longer needed. This might be due to product obsolescence, replacement by a newer model, etc. When reviewing usage reporting, a solution might also be found to simply no longer be used by customers.

In these cases, eliminate self-service solutions that are not utilized by customers or are unnecessary. A lengthy list of knowledge base articles is more challenging for your customer to browse, and protracted, inappropriate search results may cause them to choose incorrect solutions, further aggravating the situation and pushing them to seek live service via telephone or email. The more challenging and frustrating it is for customers to use self-service, the less confidence they will have in it and the less likely they are to use it in the future.

Not to be “set and forget”

Today, self-service is a requirement and not an option. Customers expect it, and providing solutions online to customers around the clock reduces the workload on the customer service team. The dynamic natures of business and customers means self-service isn’t something that can simply be setup and forgotten.

Rather than experience solutions failing over time, perform regular maintenance. Check solutions for validity and that desired outcome are still occurring. Measure usage of both the self-service channels utilized and solutions’ helpfulness to customers (as well as the impact on reducing the burden on live customer service channels) to verify progress against service and CSAT goals. With ongoing care and tuning, self-service will help ensure continuous customer satisfaction in the most efficient manner possible.

Paul Selby
I am a product marketing consultant for Aventi Group. Aventi Group is the first product marketing agency solely dedicated to high-tech clients. We’re here to supplement your team and bring our expertise to bear on your top priorities, so you achieve high-quality results, fast.


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