5 Essential Tips for Self-Service Success

Whether you’re looking to implement self service for your customer, or assessing the quality of your current self-service solution, there are five key enablers that need to be in place in order to achieve a successful self-service solution.

Self service is an excellent tool that I always recommend every organization to implement as a service to their employees, as it improves service and support. A good self-service solution will also reduce support costs, decrease incoming calls to the service desk, and improve job satisfaction within the service desk. Invest some time in my five recommended  key enablers to discover how you can dramatically improve the results of self service:

  1. Findability – It doesn’t matter how much content you have in your self-service solution if your customers can’t find it. Findability is driven by context, structure, meta tags, and rich environment statements. Make sure that you create all content within the context of your customers. An easy-to-use template will help you to structure and write the article, and to make it coherent and searchable. Working with KCS (Knowledge Centered Service) helps you to create new articles as part of your daily workflow. You need content that is constantly being used and improved to ensure that you always have the latest information available.
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    Completeness – Your customers want to know what you know, as soon as you know it. How quickly can you have knowledge visible for your customers? The goal is to have most of what we know available for self service within 90 minutes (based on the 90/90 rule from KCS). While the 90/90 rule might seem to be a bit provocative, the primary enabler to self-service success is volume and speed. Knowledge is time sensitive, and customers expect to find answers when using self service. A good self-service solution can solve up to ten times the number of level-one cases.

  3. Access – You need to make the self-service solution easily available to your customers. My recommendation is to integrate the self-service solution with the user interface. Examples of good integrations include integrated search results, integrated FAQs to other access points, and ‘was this what you where after’ article solutions when customers log their issues (solving the incident before it reaches first line). Make access to your self service obvious and easy to find in order to engage the audience. The easier your customers can get access to the self-service solution, the easier it will be to involve them.
  4. Navigation – What is the primary reason for customers not coming back to your self-service solution? A research project carried out by Microsoft found that they key reason people did not come back to a self-service solution, was not that they couldn’t find what they were looking for, rather because of ‘dead-ends’. By ‘dead-ends’ I mean that the customer doesn’t have to stop and start over again if they don’t find what they are looking for once they have started interacting with self service. A good self-service solution should include the ability to search for answers, as well as facilitate an easy-to-use function for browsing all the knowledge articles available.  If your customer wants to move from the self-service solution to first line support, the connection should be just one click away. Make sure that your customer’s search or browsing history is included in the request in order to minimize the transition effort for the service desk agent. Having this solution available will make your customer far more willing to go back and try again the next time they have a problem.
  5. Marketing – Self service requires a marketing plan. The “build it and they will come” model doesn’t work for self-service solutions. I cannot stress this enough for my clients. It takes time to change the behavior of your customers, but having a solid marketing plan in place will help with this transition. Get advice from those who understand how to communicate and build a marketing plan, and make sure to drum your plan in at every opportunity available. Have a ‘launch party’, brand coffee mugs, have a name-the-portal competition, and generally just make a buzz about this splendid new self-service solution and help your customers interact with it. Other great tips and proven best practices include creating a pre-set message for incoming calls informing customers that they can find help using the self-service tool. If your customers like what they see, they’ll use it again and again!

Creating the best possible self-service solution shouldn’t be work, work, work – be creative and have fun in the process.

Did you like my article? Make sure you check out my popular blog post, How to Get your Employees to use their New Knowledge Tool

Lena Stormvinge, KCS Trainer & Knowledge Specialist, ComAround

Related links:

Short facts about KCS and self service

Whitepaper: Using self service and KCS to reduce support costs

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