Contacting customer support on the phone is, perhaps, still the most frequent way for users to seek assistance. But gone are the days when picking up the phone was the only option to get help with a product.
In today’s fast-paced world, people want their issues resolved now, not tomorrow. Spending minutes in a call queue only to have something fixed that may not even be broken — especially on a busy day — may feel like an eternity.
And Millennials (anyone born between 1980-1996) now make up a large percentage of today’s customer base. They started using Internet and mobile technology at a young age, so are tech-savvy, and are used to accessing a large amount of information anytime, anywhere.
With consumer behavior developing as it is, customers need answers quickly, demand personalized support experience, and are willing to solve their issues themselves.
That’s why there was a need for a solution beyond customer service and user documentation. And this solution has manifested as a phenomenon called Self-Service Portal. Read on to get a few tips on what you should consider when shaping your own portal.
What is a Self-Service Portal?
A Self-Service Portal is a website that gives users access to a personalized customer service experience. It enables users to learn from custom suggested documentation, complete tasks such as password resets or bill payments, interact with other users on a forum, and report incidents while also being involved in the resolution process. And the best part: these resources are always available, and accessible via a single hub.
Without a doubt, both your company and customers can mutually benefit from a Self-Service Portal. Your customers can become empowered to resolve issues on their own, and your support representatives can focus on more complex tasks more efficiently.
To build a Self-Service Portal that allows for a new level of customer support that truly empowers users to do more, you need to construct a site that delivers a seamless, uninterrupted experience.
Tip #1: Develop a strategy
Firstly, it’s extremely important to define why, how, and for whom you develop a Self-Service Portal.
The reason may be as simple as the aim of improving customer satisfaction, while also taking some weight off your support team. Also, you will probably need to address concerns like “Will the investment pay off?” or “How will efficiency be measured?”. While these questions may be difficult to answer, one thing is sure: offering a Self-Service Portal has definitely become a necessity, rather than a favorable option.
Tip #2: Shape a near-perfect user experience
We all know that nothing is perfect. Even if something is near flawless, there’ll be a better version of it. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t aim for perfection. Because user experience is the core of a successful Self-Service Portal. Excellent user experience improves overall user satisfaction, and satisfied users will have an even better opinion of your company’s image.
To create an outstanding user experience for your Self-Service Portal, think on a large scale. What do users want to achieve? To find solutions as soon as possible. Make sure that navigating the portal is straightforward, and that finding relevant content is effortless. To improve navigation, make sure you structure the site thoroughly, and implement a reliable, indexed search bar. Not being able to find something can be terribly frustrating, quickly destroying an otherwise good initial impression.
And speaking of impressions… the look and feel of the website is also an important factor when it comes to impressing users. Take the time to create a website design people enjoy looking at. And a cross-functional team of designers and copywriters can do wonders, resulting in a site that feels personal, fresh, yet somewhat familiar to users.
Involving a few end-users in the planning process can also occasionally be a good idea.
Tip #3: Give it all you’ve got
You may be wondering what you can squeeze into an all-purpose Self-Service hub. Well, a lot.
Start by adding user documentation. Because delivering a solution is only part of your job, teaching your users how to get the most out of it should be the other part. User guides, tutorials, and a FAQ & Troubleshooting section not only shows your users how to use your products, they also teach them how to solve issues themselves. And if your Self-Service Portal can bring up content based on the users’ needs, your site will truly stand out.
And why not implement a community forum? Encouraging users to connect with other users is without doubt rewarding: chances are user complaints will get resolved before they end up in your ticketing system.
The next step should probably be to provide various options through which to contact your support team, but first consider implementing a chatbot! A well-trained chatbot can answer thousands of queries in a split second, and it’s always online, ready to assist your customers.
If a customer decides to contact your team, you can still provide further support: make calling agents and submitting tickets as easy as possible. Ideally, your users should be able to update and edit the certain details of the ticket, and also monitor the status of the request. Most importantly, assure your users that they are important, and that resolving their issues are your main priority.
Tip #4: Never stop improving
A great Self-Service Portal, even one thought through a thousand times, requires continual maintenance. Documentation must be kept up-to-date to continue delivering meaningful information. Because outdated and misleading information is often worse than no information at all.
A community forum must be monitored to moderate discussions and answer user questions. Keeping an eye on feedback is also well worth it.
And the list goes on: your chatbot may need to be refined, your IVR should be revised once in a while, and your support and marketing team need to continue distributing your content.
It’s already clear that Self-Service Portals are of great value, and may have more potential yet to be unwrapped. Their profitability is also clear, but keep in mind: developing a Self-Service Portal is more than just a one-time project.
What do you think makes an ideal Self-Service Portal? Let us know in the comments section below!