June 10, 2022
Self-Service is the Future of Customer Experience
As customer needs evolve, the business models for delivering value to those customers must also transform and adapt. When it comes to customer experience tools like self-service, it’s not only about support. Self-service should be seen as a completely tailored and personalized customer experience.
Self-service is becoming the first choice in a string of other options for providing customers the choices they need and the answers they want. In the digital age, self-service delivers enormous value to businesses with savvy and capable target markets.
Building a solid foundation sets the stage for an engaging and optimized self-service experience.
What is self-service customer experience?
In terms of the customer experience, self-service is an aspirational experience where a good or service is provided to a customer with zero friction points along their journey. And in reality, this type of journey isn’t always linear.
In several classic use cases, self-service models offer support for many different needs of online customers without devoting a skilled representative to each separate case.
Some of the most common examples include:
- Sign-up options: Customers can manually sign up or register for a low-tier or individual service plan (instead of an enterprise level where a demo or personalized quote would be the first step).
- Help center: The Help Center serves as a database or library complete with materials and questions already answered by, for example, the tech team.
- Chatbots and widgets: AI-powered widgets deliver immediate answers to common questions for website visitors using known or pre-loaded playbooks and customer data.
The self-service customer experience is defined by several characteristics. Although each experience provides something unique, the similarities are as follows.
- It’s fast. Self-service models deliver on customers’ need for quick responses and turnaround times–without extra bottlenecks or frustrations.
- It’s around the clock. Many self-service portals deliver options during non-business hours or during times when full-time staff aren’t available.
- It’s consistent. Cross-channel options deliver a branded experience, regardless of how the customer chooses to use the self-service platform. It is a direct outflow of the person-to-person customer experience.
Why is self-service valuable to CX?
The self-service customer experience option is a highly efficient, low-cost way to deliver the speed and accuracy customers crave when interacting with online platforms and service providers.
Additionally, digital self-service also expands accessibility for many different types of customers while providing the clarity they expect from a trusted brand.
Many decision makers and enterprise leaders also favor self-service because it treats customers as valuable partners in the journey. Most options are uniquely designed to honor the customer’s time and knowledge by providing the right resources and displaying a commitment to the experience.
Which industries can use self-service customer experience?
Almost any industry can take advantage of the self-service experience. However, the right self-service platform might vary depending on how customers interact with the business.
For example, retail providers might use physical kiosks to give customers in-person options for making purchases and sending returns. Conversely, B2B companies may opt for FAQ pages, tech libraries, community forums, and chatbots or widgets to address customer issues online.
Regardless of industry, providing a relevant escalation method is essential. Self-service is never the end point for true customer experience and support. Additional ways to support customers are critical to helping those who weren’t able to receive the help via the various self-service options.
Self-service and the future of business development
Modern businesses often wonder what exactly about self-service makes it likely to have prominence in the future. For one, self-service is a way to install a personalized and unique experience–it is the combination of values and emotions specific to each customer.
- The value is being able to deliver specific results the customer needs in the way they want to access them.
- The emotions involve feeling equipped, confident, and in control. Most of the time, the emotional experience on the part of the customer contributes to increased trust and brand loyalty.
Build a foundation for CX success
To make your self-service experience as strong as it could possibly be, know the answers to questions your customers are seeking at all points throughout their journey.
What are their main pain points and headaches? Go to the data, access open tickets, and conduct one-on-one interviews to glean insights. Then, create solutions that are easily accessible.
Never send customers in circles looking for the self-service answer–it would defeat the purpose.
When it comes to crafting a true self-service experience, consistency is key. In other words, your organization’s branding and messaging should remain the same throughout each customer portal or access point. Additionally, be aware that establishing self-service options isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it scenario. Frequently run QA tests for quality and evolve with your customer and their questions.
If you’ve been strategizing self-service for your customer experience, now is the time for action. Make moves today, and deliver customer experience benefits to your customers for years to come.
Follow up with the team at 3Pillar Global for your own self-service strategy, consultation, or design. We’re here to help honor your processes and help you put your customers first.
Special thanks to these members of FORCE, 3Pillar’s expert network, for their contributions to this article.
FORCE is 3Pillar Global’s Thought Leadership Team comprised of technologists and industry experts offering their knowledge on important trends and topics in digital product development.