Business Practices | | Published November 26, 2014

Important Factors to Consider for Your Self Service Strategy

Do you remember the first time you walked into a grocery store or department store and saw the automated checkout systems? If you were like many people you were likely taken aback at first – what is this and why are there not any people scanning my stuff for me? Why am I doing this myself?

Now, the automated system is becoming a norm during trips to the store. While it can be obnoxious for a huge cart full of groceries (especially when it can’t get the weight right and yells at you), a light load is a quick scan and exit from the store. If something goes wrong, you have an employee standing by to fix it.

There’s a lot of correlation between the automated checkout system at the grocery store and a customer self-service portal like the one in Team Support, especially with a strong customer service agent involved. In many situations, it can be much more useful for a customer to help themselves.

Human Touch

We won’t deny how helpful it can be to have a live human being to call on. If you get stuck in a jam there’s nothing worse than looking around and seeing there is nobody around to aid you. That’s why the grocery store has at least one employee looking out for you in case there’s a problem or you have a question during self-checkout.

With online customer service, speed is always a factor. The very fact your customer went online to find the answer to a solution means they want the fastest answer possible. They went to your website, found the help section, and started poking around.

If there is a simple answer, they don’t want to see “Call us at 1-800-TOO-SLOW” as the only option available to them. It’s just like the basket full of groceries at the store – they only have a handful of items and they’re perfectly willing to scan them with no help. There’s no reason to send the person with just a few items through the same line as the person with two carts full.

So while the human touch is nice, it may not be helpful when there’s a simple issue. It’s all about options – people like to feel like they’re in control of the situation, and self-service alternatives give them that.

Complete as Possible

The key to providing customer self-service options is to make them as complete as possible. If you’re only solving a portion of a problem or leaving out key details for a walkthrough of an issue then your customers won’t be satisfied.

Remember that part of the beauty of providing things like FAQs, chat forums, and instructional videos is that your agents’ workload is greatly diminished. If customers can find the answers they need for simple problems without calling the support team, the pesky little issues won’t pile up as much and your team can focus on solving bigger issues and improving overall service.


Like the grocery store, though, make sure your customers always know you’re just a phone call, chat, or email away. You don’t want them to look around and feel like they’re all alone in the world with nowhere to turn. But if you make the self-service part of your support system strong enough, they’ll hardly ever need to contact you anyway.