Customers don’t want to wait in long service queues for their chance to speak to a live support agent. They may have better things to do than writing a long email or submitting a ticket.
If they are seeking support outside business hours, it can be quite inconvenient to wait until the next business day for a reply!
Customer self-service frees customers to solve their own problems “NOW” without speaking to a company agent. It spells many benefits for the customer and the company. Your customers save on time and enjoy a sense of accomplishment. With fewer support tickets to deal with, CSAs can focus on improving customer satisfaction scores and resolution times.
Offering various service options from AI conversational apps to FAQ pages is paramount. We will be covering some of the best tools to enhance customer self-service at your organization and everything you need to know in-between.
What is customer self-service?
“Self-service involves the customer taking actions to resolve their service issues or finding answers to questions without involving customer service agents or other employees.”
Businesses can offer a number of self-service channels, not limited to AI automated call centers, chatbots, FAQs, community forums, support portals, and tutorials. Consequently, they can enjoy key customer self-service benefits such as reduced support tickets, increased Net Promoter Score, and lower costs.
Because business interactions now involve multiple touchpoints, companies must consider availing their self-support options on their websites, apps, or social media pages.
Reasons to offer self-customer service options
Various studies have collaborated that customers prefer to solve their problems first without engaging with the formal support channels. Let's take a look at the results of those studies:
About 3 in 4 consumers solve customer service issues themselves, and a third of customers would rather wash a toilet than speak to a customer service agent (Aspect Software Study thru Biz Report).
70% of customers expect a company's website to have at least one self-service application (Research by Steven Van Belleghem, Customer Thermometer).
While 70% of customers use self-service options during their resolution journey, only 9% of customers are truly resolving issues with self-service (Gartner, Inc Research).
59% of customers are frustrated about having to reach out to a live agent if they can’t resolve the problem by themselves (Nuance Survey).
And why do customers particularly like a self-service option? It's often faster, convenient, flexible, and requires less energy expenditure than speaking to a customer service agent.
The second reason to consider self-service is that many customer inquiries may involve information quickly accessible through a customer service solution like a FAQ or knowledge base. According to a DigitalGenius survey, 80% of customer service leaders agreed that 20% of all their team’s support requests were repetitive and easy to resolve. So, implementing customer self-service options can help prevent customer support agents from getting bogged down by repetitive requests at the expense of intricate issues.
Self-service can improve the overall customer experience. It can translate to benefits that positively impact the bottom line:
78% of customers are willing to engage with a company even after they make a mistake, provided that the support is excellent (Salesforce Research)
68% are willing to pay more if the brand is reputed for offering good customer service (HubSpot)
3 in 5 feel like good customer support is vital in their feelings of loyalty towards a company (Zendesk).
So, reducing ticket submissions and focusing the freed-up resources on offering the best customer experience can contribute to your business's long-term survival and prosperity.
Advantages of customer self-service
We have looked at why you should consider offering self-service options by examining the evidence. But what does your organization stand to gain? Aside from having less frustrated customers, you might enjoy the following benefits of customer self-service:
1. A more efficient customer service team
There are no two ways about it. Your customer service team will become more efficient. How? You may ask.
Suppose you implement a self-service knowledge base with guides & tutorials. In that case, support agents can simply provide links to relevant articles to answer user queries instead of typing out the reply every time.
Self-service solutions can gather analytics and real-time data about customers for analysis by the customer service team. For instance, a knowledge base should report on unresolved search queries or provide metrics on popular support articles.
AI conversational voice and messaging bots can feed human agents data about automated interactions such as ratings for further follow-up.
2. Low costs for business organizations
If you drastically reduce the number of live calls to support agents, you may end up requiring less human capital to manage your call center.
It translates to lower business costs. In the process, you also avoid other headaches like the high attrition rates of call centers with an average turnover rate of 30% to 40%.
Your business will invest less in training and tools without sacrificing the customer experience but incrementally improving it.
3. Fast Resolutions
While call centers strive to answer up to 80% of their calls in less than 20 seconds, the reality is that they often become quite busy and struggle with the demand.
Customers may end up sharing their horror stories of being placed on hold or getting transferred from one person to another. The majority of respondents (69%) on a Zendesk/Dimensional Research study ticked fast resolutions as key to a good customer experience.
Self-service means that customers can solve their problems sometimes in mere minutes.
Best tools and examples of customer self-service
Don't get it wrong — the goal is not to have as many customer self-service channels as possible. You can get by with a few perfectly executed options that will significantly increase ticket deflection by enabling users to solve their own problems.
Now, something radical has happened. The focus of customer self-service has been avoiding direct support requests. But as you will see with AI conversational apps, it's now possible to offer customer self-service with the same advantages rendered by live agents.
So, let’s look at self-service technology examples and tools:
1. AI conversational bots
If you've ever called into a telecom customer service center, you may have interacted with an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system. It takes you through a list of self-service options with pre-recorded answers to commonly asked questions.
IVR systems often come across as monotonous. You can't ask questions and receive direct answers. The whole menu has to play out like a broken cassette, wasting time. That's why many customers are often in a hurry to find the option to speak to a live agent.
AI conversational apps simulate the same experience a live support agent provides on voice or text messaging. The self-customer service chat solution can personalize each interaction by relying on customer data to establish context.
Conversational AI apps now can understand the intricacies of human speech with surprising accuracy and understand sentiment and emotion.
The best conversational AIs like Dasha.ai can have conversations with customers indistinguishable from real ones. They can get better through supervised and unsupervised learning to distinguish speech and language patterns.
If you’re looking for a way to delight customers, it’s one of the best self-service options to consider. Unlike a human call center, there are no wait times as the tech can handle many callers simultaneously.
It can prove helpful during off-hours as it's on 24/7. Customers can directly interact with the AI and even perform activities related to their account management, such as authorizing payments, upgrading service tiers, updating payment information, among other tasks.
Thanks to the Dasha AI platform, building an AI-enabled conversational assistant now takes minimal coding.
Here is a demo conversation for an Insurance Call Center AI agent built on Dasha:
Automated chatbots are one of the fastest-growing self-service communication options as they are quite easy to implement.
Ordinary messaging bots use a rules-based flow and basic interactivity to guide customers to solutions. The workflow may begin with a welcome message. Customers can choose the service path from a menu with categories such as billing or shipping. They can follow prompts on the decision tree until they arrive at specific answers.
Keyword-recognition chatbots connected to the company's knowledge base can offer articles that best match the user’s query based on keywords or search intent.
But the future lies with AI-powered conversational chatbots that use NLP to simulate human-like text conversations. They can go beyond pre-defined rules, menus, and buttons to deliver exceptional experiences for complex queries that generally involve human intervention.
3. FAQ page
Building an FAQ page should be a requirement for every website at this stage. Missing this customer service tool can leave the support team dealing with monotonous calls and requests.
FAQ stands for “Frequently Asked Questions.” You can include FAQs on every page that describes your product and services. For instance, you may need an FAQ on the Pricing page to deal with common questions about billing. Explanations to common questions should be brief and up to the point.
4. Knowledge base/Help center
The company's help center is one of the best customer self-service examples. It may contain product help docs, how-to guides, release docs, tutorials, and FAQs.
Making the knowledge-base easily searchable should be a priority. You can organize content into categories and subcategories or pin popular support articles.
Knowledge bases with an AI-powered search recommendation engine can deliver contextual results faster, saving the user time.
Thinking about the needs of your support staff should be a priority when evaluating customer self-service software. With help centers, you should look for features such as intuitive editors, versioning, rollback, user feedback, collaborations, and analytics.
5. Community forum
Companies like Google, Microsoft, PayPal, HP, and many more, have long used company forums as self-service business tools. The forum acts like a community where real users can pose questions about the company’s products or policies and receive replies from other users.
Community moderators and official representatives can weigh in to clarify issues from time to time.
In a sense, real-world users are providing support for free. With moderation and access control, you can manage user access to pages and edit or delete anything required. Usually, the forum serves as a good source for user feedback.
6. In-App guidance
It’s okay to publish how-to guides and tutorials. But a more powerful way to teach customers about your app’s features is through interactive in-app guidance. For instance, customers can interact with a product walkthrough with step-by-step prompts on using various features.
You can create guided tours for onboarding. Users should also receive regular in-app recommendations every time they power up the app.
Meeting customers in their hour of need is vital. You can think of dynamic prompts to help confused customers. An easy example may entail redirecting users to the password reset page after three unsuccessful login attempts.
7. Self-service customer portals
These portals give users more interactivity, control, and visibility into their service. There has been an uptake of consumer portals in insurance, healthcare, real estate, and telecommunications.
The portals come in many forms. You can have a purely informational portal to provide regularly requested information such as policy details or statements.
Your organization can provide a service or transactional portal with self-service capabilities like upgrading service tiers, creating invoices, or making payments.
The service portal can be a launching pad to other self-service customer channels such as the searchable help center. Many businesses provide help portals for creating, tracking, and submitting tickets.
Customers now demand answers within seconds. Don't slow them down by having them contact support every time with a request. So, you can rethink your approach towards customer service by implementing intuitive technologies like AI conversational bots.
Your support agents can then focus on increasing their value by becoming subject experts and overseeing automated support systems.
The end goal of self-service should be helping customers function at their best by giving them what they want, “The ability to sort out their own problems!”