4 ways to master self-service for customers

The goal of any self-service for your customers is to find better, more efficient ways to resolve their problems. Customers want real-time answers to basic questions without having to contact the customer service. Service agents want to avoid answering repetitive questions and address complex issues where a human contact can make a difference.

With this in mind, you need to ensure that your strategy is not just about ruthlessly eliminating costs, but instead focused on how you can better meet your customers’ needs at a reduced cost to serve. This means understanding and addressing what customers want and what is causing them frustration when they interact with you. This article explores the key components needed to build a successful self-service strategy. 

How to create a successful self-service strategy 

Before you embark on your self-serve strategy you need to be very clear about why you are doing it. While, the cost savings a business can gain from implementing self-service can be significant, it is important you think about more than just the financial aspects. A poorly designed self-service strategy can actually cost a business more than no self-serve strategy at all.

It is essential that your self-serve strategy should be primarily focused on better meeting your customers’ needs. A strategy designed from this starting point will ultimately deliver both an improved customer experience and better financial returns. 

So, what do you need to consider when building your self-service strategy?

1. Tackling your customers’ needs

It all comes down to knowing your customers, what they are trying to accomplish and the reasons they contact you. Customer’s want their questions answered and their problems resolved quickly and easily.  They also want to be able to access support anytime, anyplace, and from any device. It is this need for convenience that is driving the growth of self-service. According to a recent Microsoft report two-thirds of consumers prefer self-service and solving issues on their own to other forms of support. 

The best place to begin is by looking at the simple tasks they are trying to undertake and make sure they are added to your self-service portal , such as tracking a delivery, changing contact or payment details, account balances, invoices, etc. 


2. Invest in design 

Self-service works best when it’s intuitive, because customers are using it to save time. If you make it difficult and time consuming then they are unlikely to use these channels again and will phone you instead. A recent Gartner report found that 70% of customers are using self-service channels at some point in their resolution journey, but unfortunately, only 9% can fully resolve their issues via self-service channels.

This is where design becomes crucial. There are far too many poorly designed and managed self-service channels, which can be as harmful as not giving customers a channel choice at all. Badly designed chatbots, apps and IVR systems frustrate customers and ultimately damage the customer experience.

When looking at design, ease of use is of paramount importance. Ensure the navigation is intuitive allowing customers to find what they want quickly. Get customers involved in the creation of your self-service offering by doing research on the user experience – seeing how people actually use the channels both individually and together.  This will ensure the design of your self-service channels meets customer’s needs and delivers a positive experience. 

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However, it’s important to realise that sometimes customers can’t or don’t want to serve themselves. It might be because they have a complex enquiry or one with a high emotional component and just want to speak to a human being.  Make it easy for a customer to move from self-serve to assisted serve. Ensure that all the details in their self-serve interaction move with them to an agent, removing the need to repeat themselves.


3. Build a robust knowledge base 

Most organisations have a knowledge base which acts as a self-serve software portal of information about products, services, topics, etc. Its content will typically include FAQ’s, troubleshooting guides, technical specs, manuals, step by step guides and videos on how products/services work. It provides this information to both customers and employees to help solve customer problems.

A good knowledge base is kept up to date and is easily searchable, again this is where design comes in. If customers are able to quickly find relevant, reliable and consistent answers to their queries they will begin to have confidence in these channels and trust the answers they get, thereby removing the need to contact you for help.

4. Measure the effectiveness 

You need to put in place a robust system for measuring the success of your self-service channels. One measure would be how many customers move from self-serve to assisted serve. This would highlight gaps in your strategy that need to be addressed to prevent costly failure demand and minimise customer frustration.

You could also use your voice of the customer programme and look at the following KPI’s by channel – customer satisfaction, net promotor or customer effort scores. You could do some additional research as well such as asking customers if were they able to complete their tasks and if so, how long it took them.


A well thought out self-service strategy creates a win-win situation. The customer is happier and feels empowered because they can solve their issues anytime quickly and easily and that leads to a better customer experience. The business benefits because it lowers their cost to serve and gives agents the ability to spend more time with customers who have more complex issues or have a higher emotional element in their enquiry.

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