Help Yourself! 5 ways to increase self service rates

Self-help doesn’t get the bad press it used to. No longer brushed off as uncool or cringe-worthy – in the age of mindfulness podcasts and meditation apps, self-help has moved off dusty bookshelves and into the mainstream.

And for our contact centres, self-help is more than a mindset. It’s a method of empowering our customers, using self-service technology to let them find the answers they need without any agent interaction.

Whether they’re from Mars or from Venus, what our customers want should never be alien to us. And now, we find that often what they want is quick and effortless self-service options. In fact, 91% of consumers say they’d use online self-service knowledge sources if available, and, if it’s reliable, 75% actually prefer to use online support (Coleman Parks).

So, gone are the days of holding for hours to “just speak to a human!” From written FAQs to mobile apps, the digital age has got self-service solutions aplenty, and customers now have problem-solving powers at their fingertips.

And as well as helping us resolve customer queries more quickly, self-service reduces the demand on agents, and cuts down on our operational costs. It’s a win, win, win.

So, let’s give the people what they want, and help our customers help themselves… with these 5 ways to increase self-serve rates.

1. Embrace the Facts

First things first: to give our customers the right self-service solutions, we need to address the right problems. And selecting the best self-help to offer doesn’t need to be guesswork.

By building our knowledge bases around data, we can be sure to give our customers all the self-service they need.  After all, if Sandy just wants to change her delivery address online, but our online portal can only tell her when her novelty shower curtain will turn up at her ex’s house, she’ll have to ring an agent for help.

Keeping our eyes on the data-prize can also help us to self-serve wins further down the line. By staying on top of the reasons for our customer contact, we can make sure our online knowledge bases are always relevant and dynamic – useful to (and used by) our customers, even as their questions change.

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2. Think Strategically

Have you heard about the life-changing magic of a multi-channel strategy?

Nowadays, common customer queries can be resolved by phone, tablet, laptop or landline – everywhere from IVR message blocks to Facebook updates.

The world’s our self-service oyster, so let’s ask ourselves: which channels work best to deliver our pearls of problem-solving wisdom? Can we offer self-help on all our channels?

By deciding the right self-serve options for our customers and for our contact centres, we can maximise our self-service potential across maximum channels.

And we know that for customers, inconsistent information sparks confusion, not joy. Let’s deliver clever and consistent content across every platform, for effective multi-channel self-service.

3. Give Customers a Nudge

Self-service is designed to let the customer find the answer… but sometimes, we may have to draw them a map.

If Anesu’s never encountered our FAQ’s, and he’s yet to meet our chatbot, then he may not realise we’ve got self-help options on offer. We need to point him in the right direction, by sign-posting our self-service solutions from our emails, SMS, IVR and live agent scripts.

And a simple trick to save ourselves some self-served headaches? We should make sure our self-help steers pop up at the best point in the customer journey.

If we text Goldilocks the link to track her delivery as soon as she’s ordered her new bed, she could forget she’s got it… and if we send it weeks later, she might have already called an agent for an update. So let’s avoid creating an extra workload – and get the timing just right.

4. Make it Mobile

It’s no secret mobile traffic is on the move. In fact, according to TechJury 70% of web traffic now comes from a mobile.

Lem, for instance, is a busy man, and (like most of us) keeps his life in his smartphone. So, to maximise our self-service uptake, we’ve got to make it easy for the likes of Lem to book that Zumba class from the tube, tram or toilet.

Let’s be sure to make our self-service portals mobile-friendly – whether that’s by building a shiny new app, or simply ensuring our website is fit for the small screen.

5. Keep Self-Service Smooth-Sailing

Customers prefer frictionless self-service options. Just think of the ATM: a shining example of self-service success, easy to use and endlessly preferred to asking Jill at the desk to “yes please withdraw my last £12.50.”Convoluted and confusing self-service can create more problems than it solves, and force frustrated customers to call an agent. So, let’s keep it simple – for example, by favouring video tutorials over old-school written FAQs, or having a chatbot guide people to the information they need.

And when self-help just doesn’t quite cut it, we shouldn’t leave our customers helpless. By integrating our self-service with our live channels, we can seamlessly pass people through to the experts… and help ourselves to customer satisfaction.

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Our 5 habits of highly effective self-service are here for the taking… and we know the trick with any ‘How To’ guide is that it doesn’t do the work for you. There’s still content to create, customer journeys to streamline, and multi-channel strategies to align. But unlike most self-help advisors, we’re happy to lend a hand with the heavy lifting. And we’ve got more tips for self-service wins on offer – just help yourself.

Tamsin Rodgers

Tamsin Rodgers

Tamsin Rodgers

Tamsin Rodgers