8 min read
Jan 31, 2020

5 Tips to Empower Customers Through Self-Service

Help your customers help themselves. Reduce customer calls and save on business costs with these five tips.

Ankita SinghSpecialist Analyst

In an ideal world, if a customer wants an electronics product, they buy it from the showroom, use it, and live happily ever after.

But what if the product they pick turns out faulty or they can't operate it smoothly? 

The first thing they'd do is go online to try to look for a solution. If they don't find the right solution or find one that is too complex, they'd have to call customer service executives and patiently wait their turn for as long as required. They might even have to call a few times before finally getting help—all while feeling frustrated, disempowered, and at the mercy of the company.

Definitely not fun!

To avoid this from happening and to keep customers happy, a business must strengthen its customer service by empowering customers to self-serve.

We have five tips to help you do this at your business. Whether you have customer self-service support in place or are thinking of implementing it from scratch, this article is worth your time.

Before we jump to the tips, let’s quickly look at the definition and benefits of customer self-service. This is especially relevant for self-service first-timers.

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What is customer self-service?

Customer self-service (and support) is defined as a blend of customer-initiated interaction technologies that are designed to enable customers to service themselves. It includes electronic records management systems, chat, and knowledge bases. 

Simply put, customer self-service is about empowering customers to solve their own problems at any time and in any place. 

Consequently, customer care executives will have fewer customer calls and repetitive questions to address. This will reduce their workload and free up their time to deliver quality customer care without feeling burdened and burnt out. Eventually, that will translate into higher levels of customer satisfaction, benefitting the business directly.

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5 tips to empower your customers with self-service

Like all business functions, self-service is not a one-time initiative. In this section we’ll inform you about the things that will not only help in fresh implementation of self-service but also in optimizing it over time. 

Tip #1: Provide mobile self-service to customers

Customers today are more dependent on their phones than ever before, so your self-service offerings can’t be limited to a desktop-only website.

You need to provide customers with mobile self-service capabilities, and it could come in the form of responsive web apps or native mobile apps. This will not only expand the availability of self-service offerings but also enable a consistent customer experience across platforms.

Tip #2: Focus on providing comprehensive and relevant self-service content

You can’t provide your customers relevant help unless you know what they want. Therefore, analyze your customer interactions across channels to understand their recurring concerns. Use these insights to develop FAQs and update that section routinely to keep it relevant. All knowledge base content must evolve alongside your product. 

 Also, ensure that all the content for self-service literature (written or video) is easy to understand, free of jargon, and uses actionable language. Provide a still or video visual demonstration of each step to make sure that customers comfortably understand all steps from beginning to resolution.

Tip #3: Garner feedback from customers about self-service

Every time customers access self-service tools and literature, ask them questions such as “Did you find what you were looking for?” or “Did this help you?” You can use your insights to recognize improvement areas and make your self-service offerings more relevant and helpful. 

More importantly, don’t forget to prompt dissatisfied customers to another channel to receive support—it will immediately transform their negative customer experience into a positive one. This step could momentarily increase operational costs but will make sure that you don’t lose customers on account of dissatisfaction. 

Over time, you can work on reducing the frequency of such scenarios and improve your self-service offerings. Educate customers on improvements to gain their trust and rebuild their confidence in self-service. Also, invest in monitoring the performance of each self-service offering and appoint someone to oversee the usability and functionality. 

Tip #4: Focus on ease of use 

Self-service tools and literature must offer ease of use from the start. A mobile app should have an intuitive interface and web self-service tools must be convenient to navigate through. Otherwise, customers will lose confidence and trust and abandon their self-service journey. They might resort to reaching out to customer care executives for every query, increasing your operational costs. 

Also, the self-service content must be tagged correctly so that it’s easy to search and retrieve. You can also monitor customer activity on self-service content pages and offer them automated prompts if you find them navigating through the content for a long time. 

Tip #5: Create awareness about self-service among customers

You must find opportunities to train and foster your customers to self-serve. The moment you begin onboarding new customers is a good place to start—you can educate them about your self-service tools and the benefits of using them. 

Make sure you monitor customer activity online and prompt them with tips, feature nudges, and steps to self-serve. You can also have chatbots nudging customers to launch self-service modules or videos. Send out emails informing all your customers about new developments in self-service offerings. 

Above all, remember to engage with your customers on a personal level to build their trust in self-service instead of automating everything. 

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Where to start

You now know what you have to do, but if you are wondering where to start, here are a few suggestions:

  • Evaluate what your competitors are doing but don’t fall for the trap of imitating them. One size doesn’t fit all. Take cues and customize your self-service offering as per your customer needs.

  • Decide which channels of self-service you would be focusing on: chat, communities, forums, video tutorials, etc. You may add to your offerings depending on what your customers prefer.

  • Have a clearly defined ROI you hope to achieve with your self-service offerings. Know what you save with reduced call volumes. This would also help stakeholders justify further investment in self-service resources.

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Further reading

After having read all the information above, you could also explore the following resources:

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