Guest Blogger

We live in a society that is so used to finding answers for themselves that self-service is becoming the norm. In terms of customer service, statistics show that 81% of customers would prefer to use self-service channels. And it’s not just the convenience factor – with quicker and easier access to information and community forums, customers can get opinions, advice and reviews based on other customer experiences that help them make buying decisions.

Benefits of self-service channels

Customers may be driving the trend towards more self-service channels, but businesses are also benefitting in multiple ways. In setting up efficient self-service channels, companies can reduce the workload on contact centres and free up agents to focus on dealing with more complex queries. Self-service channels also provide an opportunity to engage more with customers and customise information based on what they are searching for. If set up effectively, businesses can use a single self-service portal to manage multiple brands, thereby optimising operating costs and resources.

For businesses lagging behind that do not yet have any self-service channels in place, it could be a daunting exercise to start, and there is a lot of work involved in setting up the channels. For customers who are used to calling in, it will take some dedicated effort to steer them towards self-service channels and get them to adopt these as their first customer service channel of choice. If setting up self-service channels is where your business finds itself, then here are a few tips to help get you started:

  • Create useful content

You don’t necessarily need to create a whole lot of new content, but it does need to be easily accessible, clear and concise. Downloading an entire product manual and expecting customers to wade through reams of information to find what they’re looking for won’t win them over. Break the manual down into bite-sized chunks of information that answer specific questions. Use infographics to explain processes and short blogs to provide additional information. Use headers and subheaders that describe the content available, so that customers can quickly scan the document to see if it’s what they’re looking for.

  • Label, filter, highlight and link

Optimising search is key in creating effective self-service channels. This is why it’s important to focus on one subject per chunk of information. Use the same key words in the text, headings, tags and filters, so that information will feature in a search. Then highlight key phrases or important information so that it stands out. Most importantly, link information to related topics so that if the article doesn’t give customers all the answers they are looking for they are easily directed to more resources that may be useful.

  • Review and refresh

Maintaining self-service channels is an ongoing task if you want to ensure you’re providing up-to-date and relevant information to customers. Review the content and test it regularly to see how it displays in searches. If it’s not showing up in Google, you may need to update and refresh the content to ensure that customers can easily find what they are looking for.

  • Be responsive to all devices

It’s not enough to have information available on a website. Today most people search on mobile devices, so the information needs to be optimised for those formats so that it is easy to read. This is another reason why information needs to be concise, well labeled and broken down into headings and subheadings. These types of formats make it easier to scroll through information to find what’s relevant.

  • Tell customers about it

It will take a dedicated effort to steer customers towards self-service channels, especially if they are new and customers aren’t aware of them or what they can do by using them. There is an option to do a big PR splash announcing the channels and telling customers about them, but this isn’t always necessary. By simply adding lots of call to actions on the website, it’s possible to educate customers about the self-service options. “Did you know you can….?” “Try out our new…” “Need more information? These articles can help you…” You can also include a recording on the IVR, such as: “If you don’t want to hold, you can find the answers on our website at www….. etc.”

Social media is another place where you can create awareness regarding self-service channels and start to build a community who can help support self-service efforts.  When they have a query, many people turn to groups on Facebook or Twitter for answers. Depending on what industry you operate in, there may be other community forums that are useful for building engagement. Use every opportunity to tell customers about your self-service options, and you’ll lead them to migrate to using them more often.

To find out more about our range of Digital & Social Media Training Courses click here or contact Carolyn Blunt, award-winning contact centre specialist here.

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