How to Build Barrier-Free Online Self-Service
Why Is Online Customer Self-Service Important?
Online self-service options for your customers are important because of the nature of today’s customers—their lifestyle, our global culture, and the competitive business environment. Self-service is driven by the empowered customer who wants service and assistance on their own terms. Here are five reasons to invest in the content and processes that help your customers self-serve when doing business with you:
1. Customers will not accept “business hours.” More importantly, perhaps, global customers will want to connect with your brand across time zones. Not every business has support staff available 24/7; self-service options bridge the gap.
2. As the ability to conduct ecommerce through mobile devices continues to grow, customers expect to be able to buy anything, any time. Self-service supports them when a question or concern arises.
3. Self-service is a “green” business strategy. It saves on your staff time even during regular business hours. Keeping content accurate and available improves the productivity of your front-line employees, as well as providing solid information to customers any time of the day or night.
4. The saying: “The best customer service is no customer service” means that it costs less to provide service without the involvement of your team.
5. The percentage of “digital natives” conducting business with your brand is rising rapidly. This customer is completely comfortable with technology and perfectly capable of finding information throughout your website, printing out documents, downloading information, and reaching out to your brand on social channels. They expect to be able to take action on their own schedule.
Five Things You Can Do to Improve Customer Self Service
- Improve your website’s Search functions, especially for your Help Desk and any customer-facing features.
- Make sure your team has a process in place to surface repetitive service issues that customers raise, so you can tweak messaging with front-line support agents and in your knowledge base.
- Make a list of topics and search for them in your own Help Center as if you were a customer -- what kind of success do you have?
- Begin the exercise of seeing everything about your business through the lens of your customer, by pretending you are one. Much will reveal itself when you walk through your business from that perspective. You must see the flaws in order to improve them.
- Ask your team about their personal self-service frustrations. What issues translate to your business?
Your customers don’t always know what’s best for them (as Henry Ford said "If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.") but they do know how to leave your brand behind if they can’t find the smooth interaction they need when they are ready to do business.
In short, online options for customer self-service just make sense. Your customers’ expectations are high that companies will provide it, and there are many competitors who will be glad to take the business if customers, frustrated, go elsewhere.
Alyson directs content strategy on the Nimble team. She spent many years writing and editing at her own company, A Woman of Letters. An active volunteer in her small Massachusetts town, she serves as a Library Trustee and has spearheaded municipal building and renovation projects.When she has time, she tells personal stories on her blog, http://www.pilgrimssoul.blogspot.com/
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