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The various types of self-service capabilities that can boost your customer experience

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Author: Vinith Kumar

Before getting into the types of self-service options, let us first understand why self-service and its benefits.

The success of any organization is defined by its happy customers. However, customers are very demanding, and making them happy is hard.

Customers want the answers in the here and now. It is more like running the shop floor of a manufacturing unit. The longer it takes for you to respond, the more it is that the customer will leave.

Some of the important attributes of the customer experience include fast response times, consistency across channels, knowledgeable staff, clear consistent message, a person to speak with, multiple contact points, and easy-to-use tools for service, according to research by Ipsos.com.

How do you respond faster, and how do you keep your customers happy?

It is through customer self-service.

What is customer self-service?

It allows you to support your customers without them having to interact with a representative from your organization.

70% of customers now expect a company’s website to include a self-service application. In fact, 40% of customers now prefer self-service over human contact.

And a study by Dimension Data estimates that 73% of customers prefer to use a company’s website instead of using social media, SMS, and live chat for support.

The most common types of self-service include Portals, Mobile, Chatbots and AI, Kiosks, IVR, and forums.

Let us look at each of them in detail.

Self-service portals

Put in the most important FAQs.

  • Do most of your customers call you because they forget their passwords?
  • Do your customers not know how to claim their insurance?
  • Do your customers reach out to you because they don’t find the ‘book appointment’ button on your website?
  • Do your customers don’t find their favorite payment options?

Have these on top of the FAQs – your customers should be able to find the answers without any difficulty. With FAQS, your customers have access to self-service 24×7 truly.

Show them what it is.

Use screenshots, audio, and video where possible.

If you think using a screenshot, audio, or video will help your customers sort their issues quicker, then don’t hesitate. Do them up and link them to your self-service portal.

Keep everything up-to-date

Your customers don’t want to be looking at outdated product information or help materials. When I have version 12, I don’t want to be reading the FAQS for version 8. Would I?

Easy-to-use search facility

Have an easy-to-use search facility within your self-service portal. Have it usable and in a simple form. Tag the content with appropriate keywords that help in the search.

When I start typing, give suggestions based on the words typed and the searches run by users earlier.

This would help your customers find information faster.

Optimize for mobile

80% of your customers will likely use their mobile to access your self-service portal. So, make sure your portal is optimized for all sizes and types of mobile devices.

Mobile Apps

Provide your customers with a user-friendly mobile app that they can use to access your self-service features and to raise complaints.

For my broadband connection at home, I used to call their agents to register a complaint when the line wasn’t working. It took me about 20 minutes to reach them, and then they assigned a service engineer, and the entire process was done on the phone. 

Now, they have released an app. I access the app and register a complaint in seconds. Every piece of communication is updated on the support status in the app. I get the entire thing resolved in no time without having to speak to a representative of the provider.

Chatbots and AI

This can be as simple as a rules-based engine. For instance, if someone wants only to book an appointment for a doctor visit, the rules-based chatbot can set it up.

It can be conversational when they want to meet a specific surgeon for a particular reason or as a follow-up to their earlier visit.

If the bot can’t understand the customer’s query, provide them with a seamless option to switch to another channel without them having to repeat what they have already spent time explaining.

With AI and ML engines, the bots can really get intelligent over time. That being said, you need to have some play in the chatbot space.

Kiosks

A kiosk can be suitable for specific purposes – checking out the product price, finding an item in a retail store, checkout, and payments, depositing/withdrawing money in a bank, printing your passbooks, and taking a print of your statement.

All of these are time-consuming activities that a kiosk can easily accomplish.

Interactive Voice Response

Set up your IVR to address all the frequently and commonly asked questions without long-winding instructions. For instance, if you are following up with your customer for payment due, your IVR can have messages that would guide them through the payment.

Provide your customers an option to respond so they can be guided through the appropriate workflow. Also, provide options for your customers to reach a live agent at any time when they are using your IVR.

Online forums

Have a forum where your customers can raise complex queries. For instance, they may want to custom-build something on top of what you have provided. While this is not a support query, it is something on the customer’s wishlist.

This will allow you to respond to your customers after a careful assessment. Also, this will help you with your product or service roadmap.


The benefits of self-service don’t end here. A self-service initiative can help reduce your customer experience costs significantly.

A study by Forrester Research and Oracle found that a self-service tool can reduce costs by as much as $11 per call.

The approximate cost per contact is about $12 for call center technical support, $6 for call center representative, $5 for web chat, $2.5 for an email response, and $0.10 for self-service.

Imagine that you receive 5000 requests per week. You are talking savings of close to $3 million annually.

By the way, what does it cost to set up self-service channels?


About the Author: Vinith Kumar


Vinith is a person wearing many hats. Having his educational background in commerce and criminology he has spent all the years of his career at various levels of administration in different verticals of businesses like human resources, Exim Trading and Real Estate and Construction. He has been part of the ClearTouch team since its inception in 2016 in India. His vast experience has helped ClearTouch to set up its business in India and run the day-to-day functioning smoothly.
Vinith as the General Manager of ClearTouch oversees the Administration and the Financial aspects of the company. He as the authorised signatory of the company is the representative of ClearTouch in all the documentations having us as a party to it. He also handles the escalations received from clients and vendors and ensures the raised issues are resolved amicably for both sides.
Vinith has been a good team player taking along with him all his team members enabling each of them to be a part of the success story of ClearTouch. During the pandemic, he has ensured all the members of the ClearTouch family were safe and extended all possible support to each of them to overcome their crisis caused by it.