Thought Leadership

Six Tips for Customer Self-Service

Companies with a reputation for excellent customer service know that many customers prefer to bypass the call center and solve problems on their own.

An often-cited Forrester Research study found that nearly three out of four customers prefer self-service over calling or emailing a company, but only half of the customers say they are able to find the information they are looking for.

Establishing an effective self-help channel is a win-win for consumers and companies: customers save time, and companies save money by reducing traffic to call centers.

To help you develop and maintain a top-performing self-service channel, we’ve rounded up six of the best tips from customer-service experts:

  1. Optimize your self-service channels for your top call drivers. Identify and rank the top reasons customers are calling. Is it password reset? Refund tracking? Balance inquiries? Your self-service channels should be meeting these needs by being easy to find on the web and on mobile apps, and customers should be able to get these tasks done with a minimal amount of steps.

2. Design self-help with the customer in mind. Recruit customers from all age groups, educational levels, and backgrounds as design consultants. Let them describe their ideal self-help scenarios, and have your customer service and web/app development teams work together to design systems for testing.

3. Assign internal teams to torture-test your self-help system designs. Pick groups of users who are unfamiliar with the goals and steps required for the self-help process, to mimic the experience of a customer who sets out to solve problems on their own. Challenge the team to “break” the system. Don’t let your customers be the beta testers.

4. Give customers a “lifeline,” no matter where they are. Many customers enjoy solving problems themselves, but sometimes they’ll get lost down a confusing rabbit hole of forum posts and knowledge-based articles. Make your contact information easy to find on every page and offer a web chat option to lead customers “back to the surface” to resolve their issues.

5. Incentivize self-service. Reward customers who use self-service with discounts on future purchases or freebies like T-shirts, caps, and practical or fun gifts that promote your company. Happy customers will spread by word-of-mouth the extra value shared through your easy-to-use self-service channels, and you’ll be able to capture useful information (additional customer data, survey answers) from landing page forms.

6. Keep it simple. Customer service and software development teams will always be influenced by their “team culture,” and may end up designing self-help platforms that are highly technical or use confusing internal jargon. Bring in your marketing writers and editors to make the messages clear, concise, and accessible to customers of all reading levels, and to customers whose first language may not be English.

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