Self-service Freshworks Academy

Discussing the perks and pitfalls of self-service

Written by on March 26, 2019

Freshworks Academy has a community of pretty awesome people from multiple facets of work. This is evident in the varied points of view that our members bring to light during discussions. Once a fortnight, we bring together members of the community for discussions called Coffee Chat, to talk about anything and everything related to customer experience. 
With this first conversation, we covered the concept of self-service.

One of the best things that is happening to customer service is the increasing adoption of self-service portals. This makes sense, going by Conduent’s State of Customer Experience Tech report, which said that 21.6% of their participants prefer self-help options because of how convenient they are.

Another interesting statistic – 42% of your customers want an answer to their query in an hour or less from the time they reach out to you. Your support team might lack the bandwidth to deal with that, but your self-service portal can!

Apart from empowering your customers to answer their questions themselves, self-service can also reduce the load on your support team.

Let’s take a look at what the members of Freshworks Academy’s community had to say about this:

Why should companies offer self-service options? What are its advantages and disadvantages?

There are a variety of reasons why a customer might want to find solutions to their problems using self-service. Maybe they would rather resolve their issue themselves and not ask for help. Maybe they don’t want to waste time on the phone or by sending emails. Whatever the reason, more customers today prefer self-service.

After talking to the members of the community, we’ve reached the following conclusions about self-service:

  1. Self-service can be useful for common or simple queries but may not be the best for complex issues.
  2. It can be supplemented with videos to explain things better, and can be useful for those who might not be comfortable talking to people to solve an issue.
  3. A self-service portal may be difficult to make if your team is small. In such cases, you can consider part-time tech writers to help build your knowledge base, or ask one person from your team to take it up as a project for a month or two.

What are the challenges that come with creating and maintaining a self-service portal?

When customers seem to prefer self-service tools, why haven’t more companies invested in it? The answer is simple –  lack of resources to build it. You have a single chance to prove that self-service is useful, and if a customer doesn’t find what they are looking for, they might just not use it again.

Keeping all this in mind, here are some tips you can use to get your self-service portal up and running:

  1. The cohesiveness of your pages is important if you are having a self-service portal. Make sure your articles are well organized, and the links between the articles are smooth. 
  2. Create a style guide for articles. You can write faster since you don’t need to focus on aesthetic choices and can instead focus entirely on content.
  3. Make sure that navigation to the correct page is easy, so customers don’t get frustrated and leave the website.
  4. Make sure your own team is aware of and uses the self-service portal as well, since they know better than anyone about the product or service. 

What are the common mistakes seen when people implement self-service?

A lot of people don’t really use self-service tools even when they’re available for them. This could be due to a variety of reasons. The most common of these is your content being out-of-date. Articles which are excessively complicated or too text-heavy are also an issue. The worst thing would be suggesting an article to a customer after they’ve already read it and found it lacking. Here are a few pointers which can help you prevent these mistakes from happening:

  1. Don’t replace your usual support methods with pure self-service.
  2. Ensure your knowledge base is frequently updated.
  3. Avoid making complicated and boring text-based articles, especially for complex issues.  Short videos and presentations are great here, as long as they are to the point.
  4. Try and create a mechanism by which agents can avoid suggesting a solution article to a customer when they have already read them and failed to find an answer. A checkpoint based approach like Steam might be a good idea – if your answer isn’t in any of the articles, you can contact support, and they will be aware of this and will be able to help you out properly.

What is the future of self-service?

Compared to a few years ago, a lot more companies are now open to adopting self-service. This brings about the question of what’s next. Self-service works best when combined with traditional support. In the future, with the advent of natural language processing (NLP), machine learning technology, and of course, artificial intelligence, we may very well see smart portals capable of comprehending which issues need human intervention and which ones can be solved by the self-service portal. In fact, software like Cortana, Siri, and Alexa may even save you the trouble of going to a company page and looking through their support options. You can simply ask them to find the answer.

  1. Customer support is moving towards NLP and technology. While these are useful, care should be taken to ensure that the human touch isn’t lost.
  2. Look into how AI can assist your real-time agents and reduce their workload.
  3. These technologies should be handled with care as well to avoid awkward situations. Ensure that they don’t learn the wrong things. 
  4. Self-service is useful when it deals with common, easily-fixable issues and pushes the more difficult queries to the support team.

Self-service is part of the future of customer service, and is definitely worth implementing, assuming that it’s done right. You can watch this video to see our take on it. Let us know what you think about both self-service, as well as this article.

Want to be a part of awesome discussions like this? Join the Freshworks Academy today- you’ll gain access to our community, and to quality courses and content – all for free! So, join us today!


Kaavya Karthikeyan

Binge reader. Gaming addict. Coffee connoisseur. Feminist. Jedi Master in the Freshworks Academy team.