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Acing customer self-service and improving your customer experience

Imagine this scenario: Your customer is looking for a solution to a problem. They navigate to your support page and type ‘changing credit card details’ in the search bar. Immediately an article comes up with easy-to-follow step-by-step instructions. The happy customer changes their credit card details and goes about their day. This is customer self-service. The best customer support ticket is one the customer does not even have to open in the first place. Self-service can help to decrease support costs and improve agent efficiency dramatically. Let’s see how you can make it work for your business. 

Why is customer self-service important?

Self-service is a process where the customer can solve a problem or find an answer without help or input from a live agent. This can be through independent research, finding a solution in your FAQ, or similar. Today’s self-service tools are not limited to one platform. A customer can contact the company through many different channels. For example: by chatting with a bot that will lead them to a help canter article. You can follow up through the tools by text message or a call back at a convenient time.

Industry reports show that 70% of customers prefer to find the answer to a problem themselves. This is not the only reason for companies to invest in self-service tools. Across the board, companies report that after improving their help center content and navigation, resolution times dropped while customer satisfaction increased.

A third of customers consider resolution time the most critical aspect of the customer support experience. A help center or AI chatbot has no contact hours or off-days. Customers can find their answer anytime, anywhere, although the benefits do not stop here.  A well-structured and well-designed help center is an excellent training tool for new agents. It improves agent efficiency too. Instead of typing out the answer every time, the agent can send the customer a link to the relevant help center article. Finally, it is a cost-saving measure. It is indisputably cheaper for customers to find the answer themselves.


Examples of self-service tools

As a Zendesk user, you have many self-service tools available to improve your customer experience. 

FAQ Page

The frequently asked questions page is a staple in self-service. It covers the most common queries.

Knowledge base or help center content

An AI-powered knowledge base is quickly becoming industry standard. The idea is to proactively answer customer questions instead of making them search for the answers. Knowledge bases work with search engines, such a Google and the website search tool. It is also possible to integrate the knowledge base with a mobile application or your chatbot. More on that later.

Mobile app

If your business works with mobile apps, you can include various support workflow automation. For example, cancelling an order or applying for a refund. More and more business is done through the smartphone. If a good customer effort score is your goal, self-service through the app is one way of getting there. 

Chats and messaging with AI

Chatbots are a great way to scale your support and provide 24-hour services to your customer. The AI uses your knowledge base articles to answer customer queries. It can deflect common questions and help the customer without involving a live agent. Instead, agents can focus on complex issues more effectively.

Automated Call Center

Similar to mobile and chats, interactive voice response (IVR) technology can automate call centers. It can process simple inquiries, such as checking the account status or rescheduling without the involvement of a live agent. IVR can even pull answers from your FAQ to answer customer questions.

Community forum

As the cost of technology decreased, more and more small and medium businesses embraced community forums as a way to engage with their customers and encourage self-service. It is possible to operate a forum as part of the knowledge base or separately on the website. However, community forums need moderation to manage the topics and discussion. Forums have value as a support tool and to build an engaged and active following among your customers and improve customer loyalty.

Customer self-service strategy

To ensure that your self-service investment brings the expected results, you must implement it with the right strategy. The most important factor is discoverability. The help center must be easy to find and easy to navigate. Next on the list of priorities should be proactivity. Answers should not only be easy to find but provide proactive solutions before customers even reach out for help. Engaging with customers in this way through messaging, text, or email is becoming increasingly important. Finally – different channels have different advantages. By embracing an omnichannel approach to support and self-service, you can ensure accessibility and customer satisfaction.

When designing the knowledge base, it is important to keep the target audience in mind. Often they provide overwhelming information or rely too much on jargon. Test your knowledge base and keep it clear and understandable for the target audience.

Keep in mind that this is not a one-time task. As your business evolves, so will the problems your customers face. Regularly update your knowledge base with new articles. If you use Zendesk, your Agents can turn a support ticket into a knowledge-based article with a few easy clicks – saving a future customer much hassle.

The take-away

To sum up, self-service is a great way to help customers who want a quick resolution time, support outside of hours, or are just looking for an answer to a simple question. It cannot replace live agents fully. You will still have urgent or high-stakes inquiries and complex issues that need a human touch. Most likely, not all of your customers will be able to use the newest technology either. However, customer self-service is a great way to support your support team. Save costs and improve efficiency. Put the ‘excess’ in your budget to better use in your marketing or to train your live agents.