How to Improve the Self-Service Customer Experience

Today, 85% of customers expect to be able to self-serve, but only 1 in 10 will manage to resolve their issues without live assistance. So what's holding companies back from getting self-service right? Read on to discover why customers abandon their self-service journey — and how to improve the self-service experience.

Published ·April 27, 2022

Reading time·4 min

Configured properly, self-service puts help at your customers’ fingertips, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. Self-service should be seamless, intuitive and efficient for customers and customer experience providers.

This potential drives close alignment between customer preferences and customer experience (CX) objectives.

For example, if you’re already in the CX business, you’ll know that 88% of consumers expect brands to offer self-service solutions. The result is that 81% of customers will attempt to solve via self-service before picking up the phone.

As well as convenience for the customer, self-service offers significant cost savings for brands. Cost to serve is just $0.10 per self-serve inquiry compared to $8 for a live contact.

Yet only 9% of self-service journeys result in complete in-channel resolution. That makes self-service one of the biggest opportunities for optimization.

Sitel Group® draws on 40+ years of industry-leading expertise gained at the heart of the customer experience ecosystem.

Whether designing, building or managing a self-service solution for your brand, we know that a well-optimized self-service journey is part of creating a long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship between you and your customers.

So what can decision-makers do to turn the self-service maze into a walk in the park?

1. Increase content findability: Help your customers find what they need

In self-service support, low discoverability is a two-fold issue: online support content has low search engine visibility, and answers can be difficult to find on a company’s support page.

As 68% of online journeys begin with a search engine, search engine optimization (SEO) is a powerful self-service enabler. So, give customers and their search engines what they need from moment one:

  • Center the customer at the content design stage: What keywords are your customers using? How do they phrase their queries? Incorporate your customers’ language into self-service content.
  • Optimize for user experience: Google results reflect user preferences, favoring pages that provide a good user experience (UX). Prioritize fast loading times, responsive design, broad accessibility, well-structured tutorials and relevant content.
  • Mind your formatting: Useful meta descriptions and clean, relevant URLs make your site appealing to search engines and their users.

These principles of discoverability and comprehension extend to your support pages. Site searches and navigation tools must yield relevant results. By contrast, ineffective search functions cause customers to give up more easily, so ensure that they can find the answers they need.

2. Improve usability: Create effortless self-service

Customers should be able to use your online support with as little effort as possible. Nothing accelerates self-service abandonment like slow loading pages, unresponsive screens or cluttered text. With unnecessary hurdles removed, sorting through support material becomes a breeze.

Intuitive page navigation, concise and well-categorized sections, simple and interactive tutorials and clear supporting illustrations all contribute to improved usability. And, as a leader in the customer experience space, we know that improved usability can boost self-service completion rates by up to 85%.

3. Enhance content relevance: Increase credibility and confidence

Today, customers face an incredible amount of information from a wide variety of sources. Self-service should provide the most straightforward route to the breadth and depth of support that they need. Designing, positioning and maintaining self-service as the path of least resistance helps customers remain engaged until they reach inquiry resolution.

In addition, as Gartner found, negative emotional experiences will prompt self-service channel abandonment.

So, create the right environment for a positive self-service experience by increasing customer confidence through clarity, credibility and confirmation:

  • Ensure answers remain relevant, up –to date and consistent with a centralized knowledge base solution. Create a single source of truth to power help centers, decision tree chatbots and visual IVR.
  • Calibrate self-service support to provide assurance, meeting customers’ needs for progress confirmation.
  • Design resolution pathways that anticipate the needs and learning styles of different customers.

4. Continuous optimization: Ongoing improvements based on customer insights

Improving self-service support is an ongoing process. Your first quick wins provide the basis for enhanced long-term performance. Implementing the right process of continuous feedback is crucial to making self-service work for you.

What does this mean, practically? Observing and analyzing customer behavior across your self-service ecosystem generates real, actionable insights. Carefully embedded analytics enable them to deliver feedback as a matter of course.

Without this process, you can’t know what or how to improve. By listening and responding, you show customers that you understand them. By using data to anticipate the evolution of their needs, you create self-service content that answers the questions they didn’t know they had. This is the much-needed proactive approach that will win customer loyalty in the long run.

5. Enable seamless live escalations: Streamline your support journey

Speed, resource efficiency, accessibility and cross-channel versatility make self-service a first option for the vast majority of customers.

As a result, well-positioned and visible self-service channels absorb contact channel volumes. Yet some customer inquiries demand the type of emotional or technical understanding that only live agents can provide.

So, if customers cannot resolve their query online, make their transfer to live support as seamless as possible:

  • Use customer experience analytics to understand what kind of help customers have already considered and what should come next.
  • Choose the right moment to present options that respect customers’ time and attention as well as the efficient use of your resources.
  • Suggest chatbot accompaniment that can guide them through the self-service journey.
  • Capture and transfer information about a customer’s journey to live service. Contextual information eliminates friction and decreases average handle times (AHT).

Find out more about how to rapidly improve self-service success rates and build deeper connections. Ensure your digital support content stays visible, relevant, up to date and easy-to-use with Sitel Group.