Top 15 Tips for Using Self Service Customer Support Portals

In the recent years, the field of contact center software solutions has undergone myriad changes. Think about it, there used to be a time when only telephones used were used for communication. Today, that is unimaginable. At present, we have what is known as omnichannel customer support. Basically, that entails making the most of all the available modes of communication you have at your disposal.

Obviously, that has a direct consequence on customer care. Customers today have higher expectations than ever. They want the best and nothing but the best from you. Thus, customer care which would’ve made the cut a few years ago doesn’t seem to quite work now.

Right now, the latest trends incline towards self service. The customers are becoming more and more self dependent today. The net is at their fingertips with a plethora of devices like smartphones and tablets at their disposal. That more or less eradicates the need for an elaborate customer care system.

If a customer runs into an issue while using a product you’ve sold, they would rather access customer care on their own and quickly strive to find their own solutions. Why else are call centers today opting for modernized contact center software that allows self service? Oh, don’t think it’s a bad thing! Think about the innumerable benefits it’ll have for your business.

Now that your customers are relying more on self service, that reduces the pressure on your call center agents. They wouldn’t have to deal with trivial problems any longer, and can focus their energies on the more complicated solutions. There is no denying the fact that this brand new concept has taken the call center industry by storm and some experts are even claiming that self service is the future of customer care. Before you incorporate this software into your practice, a clear idea about what it really is and how it’ll benefit you is important. Here you go- these are the benefits, challenges and tips to remember while you use self service:

Why should you go for self service?

I. Here’s the truth- running a call center is expensive. You have to hire the best talent out there, use impeccable and the latest versions of the best contact center software etc. With self service, your overhead costs involved in running a call center automatically go down. You wouldn’t need as many agents as you would ordinarily require. You could have a handful agents specialising in different fields and that’s about it. That automatically means, you could do with a smaller location or even have remote agents working for you.

II. Having self service for your customers would reduce the pressure on other channels. Seldom will you come across a practice where self-service is the only mode of providing outbound contact center solutions. You’re going to use it additionally with a number of other channels. Your customers should get the option to choose between self service and actually speaking to a customer service representative. That means, since the load would be equally distributed across all channels, it would reduce the pressure on a single channel. This is how modernization in the field of call centers has come in handy.

III. Since the workload of your agents goes down, their productivity and efficiency increases. Since your agents are now freed of the burden of tending to each customer, they can now specialise. If you’re using a top quality contact center CRM software, that would allow your agents to analyse your customer better. They would be able to gain a better perspective into the issues of the customer and provide more efficient solutions to them. That way, if your customers arrive with really complicated problems, the agents would now be better equipped to deal with them.

IV. Let’s not forget, the self-service customer contact center software is easy to use. It eliminates the need for agents and thus reduces the hassle for the customer. Now, the customer won’t have to make a phone call and hold while an agent becomes free to handle their problems! They can do it themselves! All they have to do is select the correct options when told to do so and they would be guided to their solutions. How simple is that! From the tech savvy customer’s point of view, this has to be one of the best developments without a doubt.

V. The self service facility is always available. Earlier, when customer would call up call center, the question of availability always came up. Would the agents be available? Would they have to hold or wait for the agents to call back? It was all very uncertain. However, with self service, customer care is always available. There is no question of waiting around for agents to pick up your call and tend to your problems. You can make the call, take care of your own problem and be on your way!

What are the challenges of self service customer care?

I. The major challenge of using a self service interface is that it needs to be updated on a regular basis. You see, the customer who prefers self service over customer service reps would be looking for instant service. After all, that is one of the major perks of such self service. Now, if your software isn’t able to do that, it might just add to the frustration of the customer. Take into account that updating your software regularly and making sure you have the latest version at all times is not only a hassle, but also expensive.

II. For most customers, customer care is about that much needed personal touch. When customers call you up, it is usually because they’re facing some serious difficulties. They would then like to speak to a customer service rep that would actually understand their problem and try to help them out. Yes, you’re providing them the option to choose. But most customers would find that a waste of time and would rather prefer being directly redirected to a customer service executive. Remember, a customer in distress shouldn’t have to serve themselves.

III. Unless you’re using the best version of the software, self service can be extremely annoying to say the least. Your customers might find it difficult to navigate through or difficult to proceed to the next step. If your instructions aren’t clear enough, or if your language is all muddled and complicated, your customers are going to get flustered and eventually give up. And that definitely defeats the whole purpose, doesn’t it? The mantra here is simple. Nothing short of the best and up to date software will do. Yet, that isn’t the most cost effective solution out there.

IV. The customers who are calling you are already in trouble. You don’t want a complicated software making things worse for them, right? It wouldn’t be right to assume that all your customers are tech savvy. While some are. A large section of your customers might be afraid to handle advanced technology. They might not be able to grasp it and leave in frustration. Unless your self service system is as easy as making a phone call and talking to a rep, your customers are still going to prefer the latter any day.

V. Customers want their answers almost instantly. They do not want to wait around while the software scours the system for answers. If they wanted that, they could’ve simply given you a call directly. Why else do you think customer opt for self service? To your customers, their problem is urgent and of the utmost importance. They need answers, and they need them immediately. Unless you can guarantee that, self service isn’t an option for you.

Tips to remember with self service customer care

I. You need to market your product better. Look, this step you’re taking is for the customers. You know that, but do they? Simply believing that your customers would flock to you will not work. You need to show them how this measure will help them out. Before you actually introduce self service into your operations, you need to create a demand for it. Otherwise, if the system fails to catch up, it would be a tremendous loss on your part. Creating a demand is simple. Just show the customers how self service will make their lives easier and they’ll come running to you.

II. Take your time while you design the self service system. There’s no rush; if you do rush it, you might end up ruining it. Remember, first impressions are always the last impressions with customers. If you manage to spoil it the first time around, your customers aren’t going to trust you the second time. Take all the time you need, take your customers into account and come up with a stunning portal for self service. That way, when you launch it, your customers are left with a lasting impression.

III. The configuration of your self service system needs to be spot on. Your portal needs to be developed in such a way that it instantly redirects your customers to the right group. To do that, it must be able to capture and analyse the data obtained from the customer. When the customer opts for self service, he or she is asked to delve into details about the problem they’ve encountered. Based on the entries made by the customer, the interface should be able to identify the customer and his issue and redirect him properly.

IV. Your self service scheme shouldn’t be something that you launch and just forget. You might think that you’ve got the best contact center management software, and that is more than enough. But you’re mistaken. There is always scope for improvement. As a matter of fact, this is just the tip of the iceberg; you’ve still got a long way to go. Updates for the software are released frequently; you’re going to have to keep an eye out. You’re also going to have to monitor the customer care solutions being provided to your customers.

V. Before you introduce this self service, you should make it a point to run some tests. Get hold of some test groups and run your interface by them. Based on their reports, you can go ahead with the interface or make some changes to them as you deem fit.

The case study

In the article above, we have provided you with detailed pointers on everything related to self service. By now, you should have a clear idea as to how self service can help you and your customers, how you can implement it into your system and what are the exact challenges behind this new trend. Now, we come to the case study which can help inspire you and get an insight into the bigger picture. The name “HP” must be familiar to you all. The company is, without a doubt, one of the largest providers of tech related solutions to customers around the world. Naturally, they have one of the largest customer bases in the industry. That calls for a well established customer care system. Recently, HP partnered up with a leading provider of customer care solutions to introduce a self service system. Let’s take a look at the solutions they implemented and how it worked out to their advantage.

The final outcome: the problem and the solution

To attract more and more customers, HP started using a self-service software for contact center into their operations. Of course that appealed to the customers, since the knowledge wasn’t inaccessible to them anymore. In case of issues, they could access this knowledge base themselves and find solutions on their own.

• The first step in this case was to carefully study the customer base and get an insight into their needs and expectations. That called for equal participation across all the departments in HP. Collaboration between the departments made this transition possible.

• The goal was to make external knowledge more easily accessible to the customers. Clients who are gradually becoming more and more tech savvy and self dependent preferred a transparent system that allowed them to access the knowledge base all by themselves.

• Another main objective was to improve the search experience. Self service is entirely dependent on this aspect. Unless the search option was optimized, customers couldn’t make the most of it.

• The overall outcome proved beneficial for both parties- the customer and the company. As it turned out, implementing self service didn’t simply serve the interests of the company, it also benefited the customer support group in unimaginable ways.

• For instance, the introduction of such software made it possible to provide cost effective solutions.

• It also became more and more customer oriented.

There are a few things that you can learn from the policies implemented by HP:

• Marketing programs are of the utmost importance. As we’ve already covered in the tips, waiting around for customers will not help. You’ll have to give them a reason to stick around.

• Small and trivial issues need to be published. By now, you should have a fair idea of the most common issues your customers come up with. Keep that in mind when it comes to self service.

• Optimize your search and navigation. The key to success lies in that.

The case study on HP is clear enough to help you understand how self service can benefit your business. You just have to know how to go about it. If done right, this would be the best thing to have happened to your call centers.