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4 Ideas to Consider When Developing a Web-based Self-Service Solution

Most contact centers want their customers to use self-service.  Many of us, as customers, prefer to use self-service as well.  Self-service creates cost savings for our businesses and allows our customers the convenience of receiving support whenever and wherever they would like.  Web-based self-service solutions are the most popular type of solutions.  But too often, those self-service solutions do not meet our customers’ needs.  Have you tried to use a self-service solution on a company’s website and been frustrated with the experience?  The reason may be that the self-service solution was developed without considering what we already know we want as customers.  Here are four factors to consider when developing your web-based self-service tool.

  1. Make the tool easy to use
  2. Create a solution that is familiar to customers
  3. Make sure there is an exit from the self-service loop
  4. Solicit customer feedback about your self-service tool

Make the tool easy to use.  Too often web-based self-service solutions are created by developers for developers, not for customers.  Make sure the website layout makes sense so that your least sophisticated customers can easily navigate it.  Whatever knowledge exists must be simple and easy to follow so that customers aren’t overwhelmed.  Ask yourself, if you were providing phone support, would you would ask one question at a time or give your customer 20 steps to follow all at once?  Consider using individual questions that are part of a decision tree.

Create a solution that is familiar to customers.  Make sure that your self-service solution works like other websites.  If a customer uses your self-service search, make sure the results are as relevant as if they were using a search engine.  However, don’t return too many results as customers may be overwhelmed.  With many of our customers using social media, consider having your searches return results if customers use hashtags as part of their search criteria (#forgotpassword).  Making sure the shopping cart or the submit button are in the same location as other commonly used websites can create a familiar experience and make your customers want to use your self-service tool again.

Make sure there is an exit from the self-service loop.  If the customers see that their issue can’t be resolved through self-service or if they just prefer live support, make sure there is a visible, simple option to get to support.  This could be in the form of a link that says “Chat with an agent” or a banner at the top of the webpage that has your support number.  You want to help.  As a customer, there is nothing more frustrating than searching for a way to contact support.

Solicit customer feedback about your self-service tool.  The chances that you will develop a web-based self-service solution that will meet all of your customers’ needs without changes are low.  Give them a forum to tell you what worked for them and what didn’t.  When you make changes as a result of customer input, make sure you advertise the source of those changes was customer feedback.  Your customers will feel as though you listened to them and will be more eager to use self-service and provide feedback more readily.

Remember, not every process or product your business supports may be a good fit for self-service.  Do not be afraid to ask your customers to reach out to you in these instances.  If we create easy, familiar self-service options that give our customers choices and solicit their feedback, they will not only use these options, but prefer them.

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