In the current era of technology, it seems like everyone has an internet connection in their pocket or purse. Not only do they use this connection to look at social media with their morning coffee, they also use it to get answers to any questions they may have for business.
According to Forrester Research, this type of indirect information discovery (also known as “self-service”) is on the rise. Their research claims self-service usage is at 80% of customers across all industries and forum usage is at 60% of customers and increasing. What's really interesting is that at the same time voice support is deemed by many customers as being for "urgent issues" only.
These statistics are signaling a shift in the way customers communicate with businesses. Here are some ways self-service, in particular a customer self-service portal, is now vital to business success.
- It decreases total ticket volume – This is where companies notice a change immediately after their customer support portal goes live. The more customers can answer their own questions online whenever they want to, the less likely they are to submit a ticket. This results in a direct reduction in ticket volume and the number of support tickets you receive every day.
- It reduces the amount of time agents spend on simple tickets – With the ticket volume lowered, most of the tickets that reach support agents are true issues. Spending a lot of time with simple inquiries such as “how do I reset my password” is no longer common because a self-service portal will answer these questions for most customers. Fewer tickets results in agents resolving incoming tickets faster because they don’t need to spend time on common requests.
- A customer self-service portal enables a form of 24-hour support – Especially for smaller companies, an online customer portal is a great way for your business to let customers get the answers they want on their own time. This is one of the biggest benefits of a self-service portal in the eyes of customers and it also means your agents are less likely to arrive at the office in the morning dreading a long queue of tickets.
- It’s easier to share and display visual assets – A customer self-service portal allows for not only simple questions to be answered quickly but also common questions that are more complex. By creating pages on your portal that act like training guides, complete with screenshots and videos, you can walk customers through common issues and let them learn at their own pace. This tactic will also improve the user experience of your self-service site.
- You’ll prove to customers you understand technology – All of the above, after the initial investment of resources, can lead to a direct savings of time and money. But one of the less quantifiable benefits is how a self-service portal is perceived by your customers. Especially in the B2B (business-to-business) industry, a self-service portal comes across as a forward-thinking initiative and may even be a competitive advantage.
Want to build a self-service portal that truly impresses your customers? Click here to download our simple checklist for building a great customer support site.
To conclude, a customer self-service portal is vital to business success because it makes working with your customers easier and reduces clutter. It’s always accessible, you get fewer incoming tickets, and agents can spend more time on the tickets you do receive. A customer self-service portal can have a direct impact on the overall satisfaction of your customers and how they perceive your company. Customer self-service is valuable to businesses of any size and, given the increase of its usage, it won’t be long before a self-service customer portal becomes a requirement for success.