Businesses across all industries have recognized the importance of dedicated customer self service portals to improve brand image, give customers control over their time, immediate access to information about their products and services and their usage, and save your company’s customer service teams time and other resources.
What is a Client Self Service Portal?
A self service portal is a coordinated series of self-help functions that are open to your customers and available on or through a company’s website. Self service features offer a multitude of self-help options for users to gather pertinent information to resolve a majority of issues themselves. Since your customer support team may not be available 24/7 and customers can resolve a large majority of first tier (and occasionally second tier) issues on their own, a self service portal provides customers a way to find solutions to their issues and questions before needing to contact you. Self service portals typically include a knowledge base, user or community forums, chat services, video tutorials, FAQs, service requests and other helpful solutions.
Customer’s solving problems on their own clearly has a great benefit. It relieves your customer support team’s resources to handle higher tier issues rather than handle the same inquiries over and over again. And empowering your customers and prospects to troubleshoot on-demand allows them control and reduces the frustration of waiting for a customer service agent to respond. Customers with access to these self service tools report higher level of satisfaction. But self service benefits are not limited to support. Once customers are engaged on your self service portal, some of the available technologies also enable delivery of highly personalized content and other customer facing benefits. Self service portals have evolved into highly functional data banks providing insights on customers allowing companies to make offers based on customers’ activity, history and other parameters that can vastly improve ROI.
Top Features for an Optimal Client Self Service Portal
Allows you to aggregate as much content as possible and put them into an easily searchable series of articles. Customers benefit by having access to find the information they need and resolve issues on their own or before any need for further supports. Companies benefit through understanding what the most frequent queries are to add more information, resolve bugs and even better understand what their users are looking for to better their customer offering.
A well rounded set of frequently asked questions offer a similar experience to the knowledge base but in much shorter bits of information. Again, this allows customers to locate the root of their issue and get quick answers – and if your FAQs are done right, they link to relevant articles in the knowledge base (or relevant blog posts or video tutorials) providing filtered articles.
Whether recorded webinars, step by step instructions or a live stream, videos have become an integral aspect to customer service providing another visual dimension making the customer experience more effective.
User or community forums are a great way to get your users to interact and help each other, exchange use cases or issues. Having a company moderator or Community Manager for more of the same; answering user questions en masse, get feedback on feature requests, service or product issues, and have an open dialogue with your users. With Millennials growing as a consumer group this is one feature not to neglect.
Canned or preset responses allow you to create recorded templates to common questions and reuse them continuously relieving support agents. Chatbots allow agents to use their expertise to handle high level questions or unusual issues helping customers bringing higher quality to the customer experience.
Integration with CRMs
Increase your ability to sell more of your products or services because it provides the data on what your customers need and want. Companies can easily track workflows to map out best practices and improve and maintain high standards for customer relations and personalization with the ultimate goal of driving sales by allowing multiple agents to understand the full story of the customer query history.
AI ChatBot-to-Human Takeover
Users starts off interacting with a bot, but sometimes a user query can’t be handled by a chatbot and the scenario requires human interaction. The ideal chatbot will learn continuously to enable customer interactions using natural language and understands when to ‘call’ in a live agent. A smart A.I.-powered chatbot should be able to seamlessly transfer a user over to a person within the same customer interface without disrupting the users’ experience.
Self Service Portal Solutions
Customizing a self service portal to fit your customer needs and your product or service is crucial. It starts with carefully looking at your customers and their support needs.
- What are the most common inquiries?
- How are they currently resolved?
- Which customers run into most problems and how do they approach your support ecosystem?
It’s Important to consider that Not all problems can be solved through self service yet and that not all customers are able to navigate self service portals.
The clearer you are about the processes involved in using your product or service, the better your self service strategy and portal will be. There a wide range of self service portal services offering off-the-shelf templates requiring a simple setup and integration and adding and migrating your content. Most major CRM’s have those.
In addition you can find specialized knowledge base companies which focus on your FAQ pages. IT help desk solution can find dedicated Self service apps that are tailored to internal IT self service and additional solutions that guide a user within an interface are rising as the self service superstars for SaaS solutions.
The bottom line is it’s not a simple game you need to research, plan, design and properly execute your self service portal for it to keep up with the joneses… and be effective for your customers.
One last crucial detail to remember when looking for the best solution for your business is to consider how it will be integrated with your live support operation. One of the major challenges in self service is providing continuous support for your customers, particularly users who are not able to resolve their issue and need to continue to a session with a live agent. Some self service tools allow for an on-page transition to live chat, leaving a request for a call back, or calling and messaging an agent directly.
Customer Self Service Portals are a Necessity, Not an Option
Client self service portals are quickly becoming a must have. Today’s consumers expect to find them and begin their support process by Googling the problem. If they inquire about your product support and their inquiry doesn’t lead them to your self service support portal you have failed your customers and prospects.
Self service portal technology allows companies to provide their users with a more rich, dynamic, and streamlined user experience.