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Self-service tools are gaining popularity, and nowhere is self-service more in demand than in the field of customer support. With the entry of millennials and Gen Z into the workforce, self-service has experienced a boom for both internal support and external customer-facing interactions.
It is not just the more tech-savvy generations who expect self-service. A recent study found that 54% of consumers across four generations prefer using technology (like a self-service portal) to find answers to solve their problems over contacting a human for help. With this in mind, organizations have begun searching for ways to incorporate and benefit from self-service software.
To begin gaining the highest benefits from your software, it is important to understand exactly what self-service software can do and how internal customer support agents can benefit from using it as much as external customers.
For the purposes of this post, a self-service portal is a webpage or an app powered by a self-service software that allows employees or external customers to assist themselves when they need help, information, or service. A self-service portal is one of many ways to provide self-service, self-help, and ideally self-care capabilities to those who need assistance without requiring any input from support personnel.
These capabilities don’t need to be limited to customer support. A self-service portal can also be highly beneficial to other business units such as IT, human resources (HR), facilities, legal services, and more.
When we think of a self-service tool, the IT service desk is often called to mind. Employees might be familiar with the process of accessing an IT self-service portal to do a variety of tasks from password resets to finding instructions on how to program an office phone. These have numerous benefits, including saving time and increasing productivity in the service desk. But, these benefits are not limited to being used within the IT department.
A customer-facing (external) self-service portal allows customers to attempt to resolve their own issues or find answers to their own questions before calling a contact center, which frees agents up for more complex problems. Similarly, an internal self-service portal for customer support agents empowers them to find answers before consulting management or other team members with questions, which simplifies new employee onboarding, shortens call handling time, and improves productivity overall.
Further, a customer support self-service portal and employee self-service software increase the ROI on self-service technology, automation, and knowledge management software, ultimately impacting the bottom line.
In order to unlock the major benefits of self-service, it is crucial to implement specific tactics and strategies. When used properly, the benefits of self-service technology will have lasting impacts.
In the IT service desk, there is a strategy called “shift-left” which is the idea that moving lower level issues into self-service frees up agents to handle higher-level issues. This same strategy can be extended to customer support with similar benefits.
By shifting simple requests to an externally facing customer self-service portal or customer support self-service tool, customers will be able to solve their own issues and place their own requests without involving the assistance of an agent, thereby freeing the agents up to handle more complex issues.
For example, consider an insurance company who frequently has customers call to change their address or billing information. Rather than having the customer support team field hundreds (or even thousands, depending on the scale of the company) of calls per day to handle these simple requests, customers could instead use a self-service portal to update billing information, request address changes, and search for answers to simple questions. This frees up agents to handle more complex issues like billing disparities, claims, and other more complex requests. Through a “shift-left” in customer support powered by self-service, agent productivity can improve and the overall cost per call in-turn is optimized.
An example of an internal shift-left using self-service is when a new hire starts fielding customer calls, and is able to find answers to lower level requests and questions without involving a manager or fellow team member. The managers and trainers will be freed up to assist new hires with more complicated requests while agents can take ownership using an internal self-service portal to resolve issues.
A major component of self-service lies in knowledge management. Enabling customers and customer support agents to find solutions and resolution for their issues requires stored knowledge. However, to gain the most benefit, you must take stored knowledge a step further and streamline the way it is accessed with native integrations, for example, access through chatbots.
By enabling an omni-channel experience wherein a chatbot can be accessed from the customer support agent’s preferred channels (for example a bot which can be accessed via MS Teams, Skype, or Slack) and an external customer interface like a bot accessed on a webpage, customers and agents are able to see uniform knowledge which reduces the amount of friction between possible interactions.
Using a KCS-centered methodology and fine-tuning as you go can go a long way in creating a memorable customer support self-service experience. This methodology provides a set of best practices focused on establishing a culture of user participation and ownership and focuses on knowledge as a key asset of the organization.
According to KCS Academy, KCS seeks to:
When using the KCS methodology, the knowledge management system will become an integral part of how problems are solved, rather than just a positive byproduct of a knowledge database and self-service initiative. When combining KCS with automation, agents can access the knowledge articles they need effortlessly. This might take the form of a self-service portal paired with a chatbot for agents and customers and serves as a solution to propel digital transformation.
Many companies fall into the trap of the idea that “if you build it, they will come." Simply creating a self-service portal for customers and agents or creating a streamlined knowledge database with simple access points will not get agents or customers on board with using it.
Rather than running the risk of wasting a valuable investment, create a strategy to intentionally communicate how and why agents and customers should use the self-service portal. This might take the form of something as simple as coordinated emails to both support agents and customers to educate about the self-service portal and how to access it, or it might be as complex as creating videos to walk users through how to use it and the benefits -- the level of complexity is up to you. No matter how in-depth the communication, it can increase adoption and use of the self-service portal, which results in greater overall benefits for both the customers, agents, and business as a whole.
With access to a built-in discussions feature through Service Apps technology, customer support agents can collaborate with each other and with management to solve their issues. They can also add comments to service catalog items to further improve the user experience and knowledge level across the organization.
You can also encourage external customers to share feedback on your customer support self-service tools through social media channels, ensuring better engagement overall. Through collaboration and the ability to give customers a voice to share their input, both agents and customers will feel more invested in using the technology.
To gain the most of your customer support self-service tools, micro-apps can be put to work. A self-service portal can be configured with a drag-and drop builder that enables custom widgets, and you can increase engagement and use by integrating other apps into the portal.
Furthermore, enabling integrations between the internal self-service portal and a CRM solution, like Salesforce Service Cloud, can create a more seamless experience for both customer service agents and those who they serve. In fact, EasyVista Self Help for Salesforce Service Cloud provides data-driven interactive scripts and troubleshooting solutions that will improve productivity and key performance indicators (FCR, AHT, QoS, CES, NPS) for customer service organizations, simplify complex issues for your customer service agents with step-by-step procedures, and increase call handling efficiency with automation that creates and updates cases and tasks.
EasyVista’s self-service platform makes these tactics not only achievable, but, simply put, easy. EasyVista’s native integration with Salesforce Service Cloud gives users a simple way to record customer interactions and provide a personalized experience with each unique interaction.
By combining these tactics, you can utilize a variety of customer support self-service tools that help you get the most bang for your buck while still providing a top-notch customer service experience for both agents and customers.
To learn more about EasyVista Self Help, request a demo today!
Tony Steiner joined EasyVista in 2018 as the Senior Director of Customer Service and Support. Steiner is an IT & Operations veteran with 20+ years of day-to-day operational experience who achieves organizational transformation through process excellence, measurement and maturity. He is a strong customer advocate and is committed to delivering value by supporting the customer’s needs and aligning them with business strategy. Steiner also serves as EasyVista’s Security Officer for North America. Prior to EasyVista, Steiner was the Global Director of ITSM Tools and Enterprise Monitoring for Western Union.