Leaving your customers waiting when they most need it can reflect badly on your sales and your company’s reputation. After all, customers no longer base their loyalty only on the product, but also on the customer service experience and speed. According to Pwc’s consumer intelligence research, speed and convenience rank high in customer expectations, with nearly 80% stating these as the most important factors. 

This is where customer self-service comes into play. When done right, it allows finding necessary information fast, reducing unnecessary calls and emails. This article will aim to give you some tips to effectively improve and promote your customer service self-service portal.

What is customer self-service? 

Customer self-support combines tools that allow customers to find solutions on their own, typically through knowledge bases. It doesn’t require interactions with a human agent and therefore helps to save costs and time, and can increase the number of repeat customers.

To go beyond the static FAQ pages, businesses have to offer new innovative ways to add value to customer self-service portals. For example, through informative video content, articles or customer testimonials. It should also be easy to navigate and show the brand image, and should always include access to human support, in case the customers can’t find the right answer. 

2 mistakes to avoid when establishing your customer self-service portal

Companies are opting towards automation and self-service. And this for a reason – it saves time by eliminating manual tasks, allowing focus on more complicated cases. However, there are two crucial mistakes you want to avoid when implementing self-service portals. 

  • Not offering human interaction

Not every solution is perfect, as is also the case with self-support. Every problem can be different, so you should always make human support readily available. A great solution is including a live chat on your website, so customers can easily reach out to human support.

Furthermore, sometimes customers just have a very complicated issue that is easier explained over the phone than searching for answers. That’s why it is important to add your customer service phone number somewhere easy to find. 

An excellent customer service self-support example is Lego’s support section. Firstly, they display all methods of personal contact that one can offer to the customer. On top of this, they include sections on their product guidelines, troubleshooting options, order status and FAQ page. 

  • Not updating your self-service system on a timely basis and not looking into what customers are searching for

Any misinformation can result in losing a high share of customers, which is especially important for small businesses. You want to update the knowledge base after every 6 months, so the content wouldn’t get old.

What is more, you have to stop guessing and pay attention to the questions customers are searching for and analyze customer data. Customer feedback should be treated as extremely essential and valuable insight that can be used to implement improvements in the FAQ structure. 

2 ways to improve your self-service strategy 

There are several ways to improve your self-service strategy, but the main thing that can always be made better is the way the questions are presented. And you don’t have to do it on your own – there are several software tools out there for every budget that can help. 

  1. Present information in an easy to find way

A great customer self-service example is N26 bank, where they have nicely clustered and structured the questions. Furthermore, Apple has done a great job by making their support page searchable, just type in what you are looking for and the information is there! 

  1. Use customer service software 

For small businesses, there are so many excellent software tools out there. These are available in every price range that can help you implement a knowledge base. Some great and affordable options also for small businesses are Zendesk and Freshdesk. 

What is more, if you are using top ecommerce platforms such as Shopify, BigCommerce or Magento, these also allow the easy creation of help center for your business. 

2 ways to promote your self-service system  

Having an excellent customer self-service portal is great, but if your customers are unable to find it, it won’t be of much use. Therefore, it’s important to make sure your portal is searchable and easy to find. 

  1. Make your self-service portal SEO-friendly

Make sure your portal includes searchable and SEO-friendly content. In order to assure your customer self-service portal is searchable, include a wide variety of keywords. Pay attention to the structure and cluster your knowledge base so that each question is hyperlinked to a new page. 

You might find that so many FAQ page links are all the way down at the bottom of their website, you want to avoid this. The portal link should be located on your website’s top search bar, for example, on Dropbox website at the top of the site, right next to “Log in” and “Sales” links. 

However, do keep in mind that a searchable help center doesn’t make it reliable – it goes hand in hand with excellent up-to-update content.

  1. Make your help center accessible across all channels and devices 

When it comes to promoting your help center page, there is nothing better than making it as visible as possible across all possible channels and devices. Firstly, paying attention to the layout and functionality of the self-service page also on mobile devices.

Furthermore, did you know there are new and creative customer self-service features also on social media? Instagram, for example, has made a new FAQ feature available exclusively for business users. With this function, you can send ready-made questions to your users automatically on instagram chat. This way you can easily deal with issues that are frequently asked.

In conclusion

In theory, having an excellent help center support page can help you reduce costs and workload of customer service teams. But only when done right. There are several benefits of customer self-service, but a badly managed and updated knowledge base can do more harm than good to your business.

When setting up or implementing your self-service strategy, it is crucial to first find out what your customers want and need – what they are asking about. Only by listening to their feedback, updating the page frequently and making it accessible, can it have an impact on your business. 

Kadi Arula is a consultant advising clients in the Retail & Consumer Goods industry regarding e-commerce and online operations. She has got several years of experience in working at large Fashion & Retail companies across the UK and Germany. She loves finding ways to help customers grow and enjoys contributing with helpful content and thought leadership articles around e-commerce.

Customer stock image by Antonio Guillem/Shutterstock