How to Do Self-Service the Right Way

Self-Service: The New Battlefield

Gartner, an American research and advisory firm, has predicted that this year will be a tipping point when customer experience becomes more important to consumers than even products and services. Are you taking steps to embrace this new retail battlefield?

Currently, 40 percent of consumers prefer self-service over speaking to a person, and 70 percent now expect websites to have self service solutions available. This explains why Gartner also predicts that customers will manage 85 percent of their relationships with companies all by themselves by 2020. However, understanding that self-service is important is different from understanding how to do it right. Let’s explore four ways to produce the best self-service customer experience.

  1. Creating a Seamless Experience Needs to Be the Priority

You must prioritize the a seamless customer experience when designing your self-service solution. This concept was first introduced by the Harvard Business Review in a report titled, “Stop Trying to Delight Your Customers.” Matt Dixon went on to write a book, The Effortless Experience, which focused on the idea that customer effort and loyalty are inversely related. In other words, the more you make your customers work, the more likely they’ll be to find a brand that makes them work less. So, don’t undermine your self-service solution by making it anything other than extremely easy to access and use. If it’s not user friendly, it’s not a seamless experience.

  1. It Must Be Mobile-Friendly

A perfect example of this is ensuring that your self-service solution is mobile-friendly. If a customer has to find a computer in order to get answers, they’re doing too much work. It needs to be truly mobile-friendly, too. This means easy to view and operate — just as easy as if the customer was in front of their computer.

  1. Make It Easy for Customers to Find Answers

73 percent of customers search online when they have questions, so use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to ensure your self-service solutions are easy to find on Google. SEO is a science and art form unto itself, but the return on investment in optimizing your site for search engines can be significant. Customers should also be able to find a link to the self-service portal right on your homepage. Each page that features a solution should give users the option to learn more about the topic or related topics.

  1. Improvements Will Need to Be Made

While it’s an admirable goal to nail your self-service solution on the first try, expect that you’ll need to make improvements over time. For example, you might think that the text you used to explain a topic makes perfect sense only to later find that customers are confused, and a video or a simple phone call would serve them better. Self-service is clearly a field of growing priority for your customers, so treat it as such. You should come back time and time again to improve this part of your customer experience. This will be much easier to do if you use surveys to judge customer satisfaction with your solutions.