In today’s fast-paced world, customer service trends are shifting from traditional support models towards a more self-reliant approach known as customer self-service.
This change is driven by the increasing preference of consumers to address their own issues rather than engage with customer service representatives.
81% of consumers expect self-service options, but only 41% of businesses think they have enough. As a result, the growing demand for self-service solutions has become a dominant customer service trend.
It calls for empowering customers with the independence to find solutions to their issues themselves.
In this article, we’ll discuss how customer self-service can benefit both businesses and their customers. We will also explore ways to effectively implement self-service solutions in your business so you can meet the growing expectations of your customer base.
Let’s dive into the concept of customer self-service.
Customer self-service is a convenient and efficient method for customers to find solutions to basic queries related to products, services, and policies without the need for assistance from company employees. Key channels for self-service include help centers, customer portals, and customer communities.
The concept is inspired by the self-service options at gas stations, grocery stores, retail outlets, and movie theaters. These are all examples of places where customers can serve themselves independently, which leads to speeding up operations and cost savings for businesses.
The trend towards self-service has permeated the customer support field, as businesses nowadays recognize its potential to enhance customer experience and remove obstacles while addressing product or service issues autonomously.
By providing convenience, flexibility, and always-on support, self-service solutions cater to the needs of today’s consumers, who increasingly rely on them for solving simple matters.
In fact, self-customer service addresses all-important attributes of customer experience with a brand. These include accelerated response times, consistency across contact channels, and clear messaging, illustrated in the figure below.
Customer self-service offers numerous advantages for both businesses and consumers. Here are the most important ones:
The benefits reported on the customers’ side, which ultimately contribute to a better overall customer experience, also translate into improved brand image and reputation.
Because satisfied customers are the best advertisement and marketing of a business. Therefore, product-led growth companies heavily rely on self-service to sustain their growth.
Let’s now discuss the challenges of customer self-service, which could entail:
The table below summarizes the benefits and drawbacks of offering self-service options to your customers.
Now that we’ve highlighted the main advantages and disadvantages of self-customer service let’s look at how you can make it work for your business.
Here are the top eight methods for creating an effective customer self-service portal that can help you ensure seamless user experiences.
An online knowledge base centralizes informative resources like video or written tutorials, providing a one-stop solution for customers seeking guidance. It’s perfect for addressing common questions, troubleshooting technical issues, and offering how-to guides.
Touchpoint offers a comprehensive online knowledge base that helps users find the answers and solutions they need
By covering a wide range of topics, a knowledge base can cater to customers at various stages of their journey, from onboarding to advanced usage. Ensure it’s well-organized, easily searchable, and includes multimedia content for improved engagement and effectiveness.
FAQ pages tackle frequent questions concisely, saving customers time while reducing support ticket volume. This channel is ideal for addressing basic concerns and clarifying product or service features.
By providing clear, direct answers, FAQ pages can increase customer satisfaction and streamline their experience. Make sure the content is easy to read, well-formatted, and includes contact information for further inquiries.
Chatbots and virtual assistants provide real-time assistance using AI/ML technologies. They’re best suited for handling simple inquiries, guiding users through processes, and providing instant support.
By automating responses to common questions, chatbots can free up live agents for more complex issues, improving overall support efficiency. No-code builders are available for those without coding knowledge.
💡 Pro tip: Use AI technology, like siteGPT, to instantly answer user queries using your website content. Clearly categorized FAQs and knowledge base documentation provide excellent material for building fully automated chatbots.
Video tutorials help customers understand and navigate products or services. They’re especially valuable for guiding users through the onboarding process and explaining specific features or functions.
Tutorials can also be tailored to different skill levels, catering to both beginners and advanced users.
Example of product tutorial video for scheduling texts
Create product tutorials using screen recordings, instructional videos, or on-demand webinars to help customers understand how your product or service works.
Make them easily accessible on your website or link to them in emails and text messages as part of your customer onboarding process.
Integrating customer self-service options directly into your software or mobile app leads to better user retention, increased customer satisfaction, and less need for human intervention.
In-app support is incredibly useful because it allows users to receive help directly within the product interface. Here are a few ways to build better in-app support experiences:
Example of in-app guidance and self-service options from Notion
The self-service options you provide in your web app should also be present in your mobile app. A well-optimized mobile app should allow customers to access support materials and report issues on the go. Mobile apps are ideal for delivering personalized, location-based support and providing a seamless user experience across different devices.
Automated call centers with IVR technology offer phone-based self-service, addressing FAQs and providing pre-recorded information. This method is suitable for customers who prefer phone support and can resolve simple issues without needing live agent assistance.
Utilize Interactive Voice Response (IVR) technology and automated voice menus to provide pre-recorded answers to frequently asked questions, allowing customers to solve problems over the phone without speaking to a live agent.
API documentation and technical documentation are particularly helpful if your solution offers ways for customers to optimize their workflows and integrate various platforms.
Example of TextMagic API Documentation
Offer documentation and straightforward tutorials for setting up automation and connecting tools, making it easier for customers to streamline their work.
This will help you reduce costs and time spent by your team manually connecting or offering technical support. It also allows customer support agents to focus on more important tasks.
Online support forums are community-driven platforms that facilitate peer-to-peer assistance. They’re great for fostering user engagement, promoting knowledge exchange, and offering a space for customers to discuss niche issues.
Additionally, forums can boost user retention by creating a sense of belonging and fostering direct interaction between customers and the company.
It’s important to note forums require a bit more work than all the other customer self-service examples above. You should treat it as part of your public communication strategy and dedicate a team member to responding to questions. This will ensure that no question goes unanswered and also encourage other members to take part in conversations.
Each of these customer self-service software options offers unique benefits, allowing businesses to choose the best solution for their specific needs and goals.
🚀 Best for omnichannel customer service, including native SMS, ticketing, workflow automation, and more.
Touchpoint, a SaaS customer engagement platform, provides businesses with a unified dashboard for multi-channel communication, including email, SMS, live chat, and voice calls.
As a versatile CRM solution, Touchpoint caters to small and medium-sized businesses, simplifying customer service processes while promoting collaboration and transparency across departments.
The platform is easy to set up, and its native SMS support leverages TextMagic’s expertise in business texting. Touchpoint can help businesses execute customer self-service strategies by offering seamless omnichannel support and integrating with knowledge base tools.
Touchpoint offers a free trial so you can ensure it’s the right fit for your needs.
🚀 Best for customer support across email, live chat, and FAQ pages.
Help Scout is a comprehensive customer support platform that includes Docs, a user-friendly knowledge base builder, and Beacon, an embedded widget for quick access to Docs content.
With Help Scout, businesses can create, organize, and manage a knowledge base tailored to their brand while providing customers with relevant, accessible information. In addition to self-service tools,
Help Scout offers powerful customer support features such as shared inboxes, proactive messaging, CRM data, and reports. Help Scout is an excellent choice for businesses seeking robust omnichannel support software.
🚀 Best for creating an online knowledge base.
For businesses looking to build a standalone knowledge base, KnowledgeOwl is a top choice. Its intuitive editor simplifies article creation, while no-code design options ensure a seamless alignment with existing online properties.
Advanced features include a contextual help widget, easy navigation, and SEO tools to boost search engine rankings. With KnowledgeOwl, businesses can efficiently establish a comprehensive knowledge base, promoting customer self-service and reducing support ticket volume.
Great self-service empowers customers to solve their issues independently while improving satisfaction and reducing support costs.
Companies can utilize a variety of methods, such as online knowledge bases, FAQ pages, online support forums, chatbots, virtual assistants, product tutorials, mobile apps, and automated call centers to cater to different customer needs and preferences.
By implementing these strategies and leveraging a customer communication platform like Touchpoint, businesses can enhance the overall customer experience, foster loyalty, and contribute to a sustainable, product-led growth model.
Marketing manager for TextMagic. I like figuring out how things work. Passionate about fitness and video games.
As 2023 unfolds, we take a closer look at the most important customer service trends that businesses should be aware of and leverage to stay ahead of the curve.
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