Self-Service: The Golden Ticket for a Personalized Customer Experience


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In this guide, you’ll learn how self-service can lower costs, improve productivity, and lead to a more personalized and profitable customer experience. From setting goals to measuring your results, discover industry-proven steps to using self-service successfully in your own organization.

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Self-Service: The Golden Ticket for a Personalized Customer Experience

  1. 1. Self-Service: The Golden Ticket to a MorePersonalized and Profitable Customer ExperienceWhen a customer has a question, where do they go? Eighty-three percent of customers goto a company’s website for information. However, four of the top five reasons customersabandon a site relate to “couldn’t find information.” Chances are, your customerswould prefer to find the answers to their questions online. When customers can helpthemselves, productivity goes up and costs go down. In this guide, you’ll learn howself-service can lower costs, improve productivity, and lead to a more personalized andprofitable customer experience. From setting goals to measuring your results, discoverindustry-proven steps to using self-service successfully in your own organization.Alex Hisaka is a Content Marketer at Desk.comFollow her on Twitter at @alexhisakaTo get the most from this guide, take notes. Think about how you can use the ideas, conceptsand strategies inside to build an effective and consistent self-service experience for yourcustomers.After reading, your business will be ready to:• Set-up a self-service Support Center• Set self-service goals to measure yoursuccess• Create a process for creating and updatingcontent• Start measuring your effortsTable of Contents:1. What is Self-Service?2. Self-Service Goals3. How to Measure Your Effectiveness4. Best Practices
  2. 2. What is Self-Service?What is Self-Service?Self-service is not just your Support Center, but it’s all the content that you make available to yourcustomers when they want to find information on their own or when your support team is unavailable.Some of the most common types of self-service are:oo Frequently Asked Questionsoo Community Forumsoo Videosoo ManualsThe pain point many people experience with customer service is having to wait for a response from a supportrep from any company. Even if it’s 30 minutes, it’s still a percentage of time customers can’t use a product orservice the way it’s meant to be used. If you can enable customers to find that information in 30 seconds onyour website, it saves time for both your customers and support staff.WEBSITEHELPFUL?YESNOEMAILSUPPORTCALLSUPPORTTWEETSUPPORTWAIT 30MINUTESWAIT 1-2HOURSSTILLWAITING
  3. 3. Why is Self Service Important?Online self-service options for your customers are important because of the nature of today’s customers andthe competitive business environment. Today’s customer want immediate gratification and to have serviceand assistance on their own terms. In fact, a recent Parature report cited that 51% of customers prefer tohave self-service options available on a brand or organization’s website. That being said, many companywebsites are not designed with a clear customer-focused approach and as a consequence users can’t findrelevant information quickly. The resulting frustration causes 56% of customers to either leave or go to acompetitor’s website because of:oo Navigational elements does not offer a single entry point for helpoo Layout offers a disjointed customer experienceoo Content often lacks continuity to web interactionoo Static FAQ’s that are never updated as product or service evolvesoo Ubiquitous site search returns numerous linksCustomers prefer to find the answers to their question online — the most cost effective customer servicemedium — without ever having to engage in long conversations with your customer support staff.of customers go to a company’swebsite for information.of customers prefer to have self-service options available on abrand or organization’s website.of customers either leave orgo to a competitor becauseof website issues.404Something isn’t responding
  4. 4. TO WOW, you must:Providing 24/7 supportGlobal customers want to connectwith your business across timezones and expect an immediateresponse. Self service is a way ofactivating 24/7 support socustomers can have service ontheir own terms.Self-Service Goals“We want to offer customers a way to find answers to their questionseasily and efficiently. The objective of the implimentation is tohave a clean and easily navigatable Support site so people can quicklyfind answers to your questions. If I’m a customer, I’d prefer to find theanswer to my question myself rather than calling or writing an email toa support rep. ”Jay Kershner, Sr. Director Customer Service at FitbitOne of the most important parts of providing self service is making sure you’re measuring your success andmoving toward a common goal. You can do that by:Reducing costsSelf-service, regardless of yourbusiness hours, reduces serviceload on your team and bringsdown the cost of service overall.According to Forrester Research,the average phone call is $33,email response is $10, self-serviceis $1.Providing a rich experienceAnother great benefit of self-service is the visual aspect of it.Being able to give step-by-stepinstructions isn’t the easiest on thephone or through email. Withself-srevice you can add video,audio and images to support thecontent and make learning easier.“Breaking down the different types of customers and addressing theirneeds individually is really important. Also, a solid foundation of gooddocumentation reinforced with plenty of product visuals helpscustomers learn more effectively. Documentation is an essentialtool for the entire company when addressing features of theproduct, whether or not that is in a support setting.”Talton Figgins, Support at Disqus“We had tried creating text how to’s in the past and we found that ourcustomers, with their busy work days, that they didn’t want to take thetime to read and try the steps on their own. With video, we’ve seen a lotmore interest from customers knowing that thye can see exactly how todo what they want to do, but keeping in mind that we’re still here to helpthem out in case the video doesn’t match their situation exactly.”Corey Maertz, Support at DealerFire
  5. 5. How to Measure Its EffectivenessIf you’re going to be providing self-service you need to be able to measure your success so you canunderstand whether you are investing self-service efforts in the right areas. This means the quality andquantity of information that you’re offering and whether or not your customers are able to find it.Some common metrics are:If you’re not using Google Analytics you really should be. Get it in place early so you have months of databefore upper management is asking you, “how effective is the Support Center?” Collecting this data will helpyou understand the value and effectiveness of your self-service platform. Definitely look at your numbers andsee what you can do.Support Center page viewsHow many people are viewing the suportinformation you make available? You can usesimple tools like Google Analytics to getthose numbers.Self-service to assisted service ratioAs your customer base grows, are peoplefinding more of their own answers ratherthan coming to you for help?Positive to negative rating ratioHow are people responding? Do people findyour articles useful or unuseful? Do you havetools within your FAQs that allow readers torate those articles?Bounce rate % from self-serviceIf the percentage is high, chances are theanswer is not providing enough context.This gives you an opportunity to improveyour content.
  6. 6. Best PracticesIn customer service — as in all business matters — the best kind of advice comes from professionals like youwho are dealing with similar issues to the ones you are facing. Here’s a few best practices from the supportpros who are using self-service successfully in their own organizations.Creating new contentMany businesses opt to creating static FAQ systems because it’s easy to create and maintain. However, a staticFAQ page only deals with a subset of questions and requires customers to “find a question.” Many self-servicesolutions today lack relevance, speed and accuracy.Creating support articles is not as easy as it seems. It takes a lot of time and devoted days to write up theproper documentation that’s going to help all your customers. It’s easy to get halfway through and give up,but that’ll leave 20 cases that could have been handled by themselves to flow through your system andwaste 10-20 hours of your team’s time. It’s a formidable task, but it’s going to save time in the long run.“I started when Rdio was in beta so I had the unique ability to createKnowledge Base articles as support cases came in. I think it can be reallyoverwhelming when you’re starting to write articles not knowing whatyou’re going to put in there. You need to slowly track that stuff and payattention to it and put it in your knowledge base daily rather thanfeeling like you have to have everything right at the get go. It will helpyou and it will help your knowledge base have everything that peopleare actually asking about.”Madelyn Taylor, Head of Support at Rdio
  7. 7. Best PracticesIdentifying new contentOnce you create the basic support articles, how do you come up with new content? The way to do it is byflagging cases that have reasonable self help content within them. In an easy way to do it is touse a Label. A common one that we use is “Knowledge Base Candidate.” So if someone reports an issueand it seems like an issue someone else might have in the future, we’re going to make sure that we flagthat. On a weekly basis, you should go through your cases and flag them for potential knowledge basecandidates. This is one of those things that will require time, but will be a worthwhile investment in the end.“In order to best serve our Customers, we are constantly updating andincorporating feedback into our self help. The entire team participatesin this process.  Whenever a customer asks a question that a teammember feels should be in the Knowledge Base, they label the Desk.comcase with a “KB Candidate” label.  During our weekly WOW meeting, wereview these cases and assign them to team members to improveand review.”Dan Stern, VP of Support at
  8. 8. Best PracticesListen to and provide feedbackHaving a feedback mechanism and/or a Community Q&A are two ways to listen to your customers andprovide responsive feedback. A feedback mechanism can be as simple as a rating system so you knowwhether the support article or answer was helpful. Also, setting up a Community Q&A can enable yourcustomers to find what they’re looking for and search for answers that are a lot more granular than thingsyou would maintain in your knowledge base. Agents can also answer a question once and 500 people canfind that answer without ever having to write to support to get a specific answer. Self service enables yourcustomers to help each other — allowing your customers to build that Knowledge Base is important.Add a rating system within your CommunityQ&A so customers rate your answers.Add a feedback mechanism within the Support Centerso you know whether your content is helpful or not.“Power users can do some amazing thing with, especiallywhen it comes to implementing custom code to expand the corefunctionality of our product. Despite having a team of supportrockstars on staff, there’s always a point where a request is simplybeyond the scope of what we can handle. Providing a CommunityQ&A environment creates the opportunity for customersto help each other in such situations, while simultaneouslymaking our Support Center more robust than ever. ”Graham Murphy, Senior Manager, Customer WOW at
  9. 9. Best PracticesReview and update contentEncourage your support team to regularly review and updating content, otherwise customers visiting yourwebsite will be confused by old and inconsistent information. Have a clear process for your agents to reviewand update content that needs to be clarified in the content library. Review content frequently to make sureinformation is up to date, accurate and useful to customers. Keeping content accurate and available improvesthe productivity of your front-line support team while providing solid information to customers any time theyneed it.“Our knowledge base is regularly updated every two to three weeks.With every product update, we search through our articles and makelists of which KBAs need updating. We change screenshots and textthe moment updates are live, so there’s no confusion on the backend.Product ‘sprints’ or updates and fixes are a regular occurrence, so it’scrucial to keep help articles current as the product evolves. It’s a teameffort.”Allison Berger, Community Manager at Ticketleapoo Make a list of topics and search for them in your Support Center as if you were a customer.What kind of success did you have?oo Use Google Analytics to look at pageviews and bounce rates. Is there a high bounce rate on anyof your support articles? Chances are that they may not understand the content in your article.oo Use feedback from your Community Q&A and rating system to help you determine whether anarticle needs to be flagged for review.oo Keep a list of articles that need to be updated and reviewed. Google Spreadsheets is a greatway to keep an ongoing list of articles to share with your support team.oo Set a goal for your team: update “X” number of support articles each week rather than doingeverything all at once.
  10. 10. Best PracticesAccording to a recent IntelliResponse report, approximately 63% of customers are frustrated with the searchbar within a website. When they enter a term in the search function the results are not related to theirspecific topic of interest. Self-service options are not the place to make customers jump through hoops to getinformation. Save that for registrations or resources like ebooks. Customers who are looking for informationon your site are focused on one thing: getting what they need. They will feel more satisfied when you maketheir experience barrier-free.Provide a single entry point onyour website for help options, don’tconfuse them with too many choices. Keep the search bar front andcenter so customers can easilyfind what they are looking for.Add hyperlinks within your support articlesso people can easily from jump one article tothe next or to other pages on your website.Customize your self-service formobile devices so that everything inyour Support Center is accessibleanywhere, anytime.
  11. 11. ConclusionAs more service interactions involve a company’s online presence, businesses of all types must provide rapidand concise information to customers across a variety of self-service channels. It takes time and patience toestablish the ROI of self-service. By developing smart workflows and tracking metrics, you can reduce yourservice load and cost considerably over time. Furthermore, you make it easy and convenient for customersto get the right answers to many of their questions the first time, increasing first-contact resolution. Self-service is the golden ticket to a more personalized and profitable online experience for both your customersand your has an unlimited amount of great resources ranging from more information about our productto thought leadership content. Here are some suggestions:• The Library•’s BlogLearn how to create a top-notchSupport Center in an hour.Sign up for a free demo today.