Choosing your Customer Self Service Portals: A Guide
Gartner predicts that by 2020, 85% of all customer interactions will no longer be managed by humans, and the average person will have more conversations with virtual assistants than with their spouse. Gartner further reports that improving the self-service experience is among the top three priorities for companies.
As a service to businesses looking into self service portals, we at TechSee have compiled the ultimate resource for any company wanting to introduce or upgrade their customer self service portal to serve their business goals best.
Businesses across all industries have recognized the importance of dedicated customer self service portals. These portals offer several benefits such as:
- Saving the customer service team’s time and resources
- Offering immediate access to information about their products and services
- Giving customers control
- Improving brand image
What is a Customer 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 without 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.
Why should you use a customer self service portalplatform?
Enabling customers to solve problems on their own clearly presents a great benefit. It alleviates your customer support resources, enabling them to handle higher tier issues rather than respond to repetitive inquiries. Empowering your customers and prospects to troubleshoot on-demand gives 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 levels of satisfaction.
However, 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. The best customer self service portal software acts as 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. For a more detailed look at the benefits involved, read our post on using AI in customer self service.
Optimal Customer Self Service Portal Features
A good customer self service system will incorporate more than one of the features listed below in a way that helps users as much as possible.
A knowledge base is a repository where a company aggregates as much content as possible and organizes it into an easily searchable series of articles. Customers benefit by having access to the information they need and the ability to resolve issues on their own before needing any further support. Companies benefit through analysis of the most frequent queries, allowing them to add more information, resolve bugs and gain a better understanding of what their users are looking for to. Through this, their overall customer offering can be improved.
FAQs or frequently asked questions are queries that customers or users often ask. A well rounded set of frequently asked questions offer a similar experience as 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. If your FAQs are done effectively, they should link to relevant articles in the knowledge base (or relevant blog posts or video tutorials) providing filtered articles.
Videos tutorials can be a fantastic customer self service platform. Whether recorded webinars, step-by-step instructions or a live stream, videos have become an integral part of customer service. Adding a visual dimension makes the customer experience far more effective. While creating video tutorials may be a little more labor-intensive, their effect is usually worth the effort.
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 enables the company to keep their ears on the ground, answering user questions en masse, getting feedback on feature requests, service or product issues; and having an open dialogue with their users. With Millennials growing as a consumer group, this is one important customer self service portal feature that should not be neglected.
Canned or preset responses allow you to create recorded templates to common questions and reuse them continuously, relieving the pressure on support agents. Chatbots allow agents to use their expertise to handle high level questions or unusual issues, ensuring a higher quality customer experience.
Integration with CRMs
Increase your ability to sell more of your products or services because CRM integrations 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 Chat Bot-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 AI-powered chatbot should be able to seamlessly transfer a user over to a human agent within the same customer interface without disrupting the user’s experience.
Customer Self Service Solutions
There are many self service options for customers, but how do you do know which is right for your business? 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 have the technical know-how necessary to easily 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 are a wide range of self service portal software services offering off-the-shelf templates that require only a simple setup and integration, followed by content migration . Most major CRMs have these off-the-shelf options.
In addition, you can find companies that specialize in building knowledge bases to help you focus on your FAQ pages. IT Help Desk can benefit from dedicated self service apps that are tailored to internal IT self service environments. 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. There are customer self service best practices that should be carefully observed. 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.
Integrating Self Service Systems with Live Support
When looking for the best solution for your business, consider how your customer self service system 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 their session with a live agent. Some self service tools allow for an on-page transition to live chat, or to leave a request for a call back, or the ability to call and message an agent directly. These customer self service portal features are particularly important to reduce unnecessary friction and frustration.
Customer Self Service Portals: a Necessity, Not an Option
Client self service portals are quickly becoming a must-have. Today’s consumers expect to find help online and often 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.
The self service portal software of today allows companies to provide their users with a richer, more dynamic, and by far more streamlined user experience than ever before.