No one knows what the future has in store for us. Several news sources in the past have predicted that all jobs will be redundant by 2025. The rise of technology, while making all of our lives more convenient, could see significant reductions in the labor force. Thankfully, we still need humans for one very important thing, and that’s customer service. In the field of customer service, there is a tool known as the Self-Service Portal.
A Self-Service Portal is a tool which enables online customers to discover answers to their problems and questions instantaneously, without having to request help from a customer service center or representative. It is an interactive and automated knowledge base that allows its customers to independently resolve problems.
What Are the Benefits of a Self-Service Portal?
1) Your Customers Will Want One
A recent survey conducted by Nuance Enterprise revealed that 75% of respondents thought that self-service was a convenient way to address customer service issues. 91% of consumers also claimed that they would use an online support center if it was available and tailored to their needs.
2) It’s Cost-Efficient
What’s cheaper, having customers help themselves or having someone else do it for them? A Forrester study showed that the approximate cost to operate a call center technical support per customer is $12 and higher while the approximate cost for web self-service is $0.10 or less.
3) The Self-Service Portal Improves Online Customer Experience
One thing that customers want the most is quick and efficient service. A self-service portal is exactly that: a fast and reliable source for solutions and relevant information.
4) It Engages Customers and Creates a Community
A self-service portal has built-in community forums where customers can offer their opinions and thoughts on your products and services.
With the help of these forums, customers can provide each other with support, and establish customer engagement with your brand.
5) It Provides Valuable Data and Information
A self-service portal will tell you exactly what your customers want and need. With that information, you can paint a better picture and understand your customer’s journey. You can use that information to personalize your service and provide extra value to your website, product, and customer experience.
6) It Increases Agent Efficiency
A self-service portal immediately reduces loads on other customer service channels, therefore enabling your agent to pay full attention to every inquiry that arrives.
What You’ll Need for a Self Service Portal
So you know what a self-service portal service is. You know how useful it is. Now the next question is, how can you make full use of this technology?
1) Self-Learning Knowledgebase
Your knowledgebase is the essence of your self-service portal. The content in your knowledgebase will be divided into two sections:
50% of your knowledgebase is the content you get started with. To get the best content for your site’s knowledgebase, use resources such as customer reviews and FAQ.
Ask your salespeople what problems they notice the most.
You can also send out surveys to your customers asking them what difficulties and inquiries they’re encountering, what they were missing when browsing your site, and what would improve the experience.
B. The other 50% is the content you keep updating. Your knowledgebase will be useless unless you keep it relevant and useful for your customer needs.
2) Offer Your Customers Various Ways to Use the Knowledgebase and Portal
Aside from a search bar and a FAQ section, you can offer channels such as community forum, chat, phone, and email.
3) Powerful Semantic Search Engine
Semantic search seeks to improve search accuracy by understanding searcher intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable dataspace, whether on the Web or within a closed system.
4) Make Your Search Bar Easy to Find and Visible
63% of customers are frustrated with the search bar within a support center. You can definitely improve on the customer experience by improving the visibility of the search bar.
5) Make Your Portal Easy to Use
Provide easy navigation and make sure your content is clear, readable and to the point. As you probably know, people don’t actually read most of the content on a website. They just scan. So you should probably make it easier for your customers to find the relevant content.
6) Empower Your Customers
Make your portal engaging for customers. Don’t hide it with a different design—set it apart from your general design and website. That way you will make your customers feel more comfortable and secure.
7) Content Rating
Let your customers help you by giving them an option to rate the importance of the content.
8) Ask For Feedback
Optimize your knowledgebase according to the information your customers and salespeople provide.
Advanced as they may be, machines and technology lack two things: creativity and empathy.
When facing a problem that cannot be solved by the self-service portal, customers need to talk to someone that can understand them and their frustrations.
As advanced as machines may be, they can’t think creatively, and can only do what they’re told. And sometimes warm emotion — a smile and a thank you — can be all that a customer needs to feel better.
Live support provides your customers with immediate human help. With live support, agents can help customers solve problems that the web interface cannot, and also walk them through their last minute hesitations.
There’s no knowing what’s going to happen in the next fifteen years, but we can certainly use the research today to make the most of what we have for whatever will happen in the future. While machines can do all of the grunt work, you can save all of the customer service and pre sale to humans.
Yoel Feldman is the co-founder and COO of Proonto, a global marketplace that connects eCommerce websites with expert shop assistants to engage visitors with live representative video chat, enabling merchants to sell and service their customers in a more promptly manner.