Business Practices | | Published April 14, 2016

How to Drive Customers to Your Self-Service Support Options

It's no secret that customers prefer self-service customer support options, even in B2B companies. Yet many companies still rely on phone and email support for their customer service efforts. By failing to provide self-service options, businesses are missing out on a variety of benefits including increased agent performance, cost savings, and happier customers. 

Many times however, the customer self-service options are there, but the company doesn't know how to direct their customers to them. They aren't able to change customer behavior and increase awareness of their options.giphy

So, here are 4 tips to get your customers using self-service support options: 

1. Answer the Right Questions

It's simple: if your online self-help resources aren't answering the questions your customers need answered, they won't use them. To determine what questions need to be answered, performing an audit is the best solution.

Start by examining your support ticket issues to identify the most common reasons customers contact support. These findings can become the basis for your self-service options. You could create a FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) page on your website or start a foundation of articles for a knowledge base.

Further, if many of your requests are how-to's, you could create videos, tutorials, and technical documentation in the knowledge base or even a YouTube channel.

2. Display Information in a Digestible Way 
Remember that not all customers are created equal - your self-service support resources need to be written in a way that all customers can understand.


customer self service tools

Always display information in an easy to understand way: 

  • Steer clear of jargon or highly technical language.
  • Step-by-step tutorials or instructions are a great way to present a lot of information in small, digestible bites.
  • Use headers and lists to break up information.
  • Insert images and videos where text may fall short of conveying the information.

Also remember to include relevant links within knowledge base articles or web support documents. In many cases, one topic may lead to another and another. In these situations, you want to make it easy for your customers to get all the information they need, so be sure to include links to any related articles.

For example, you might publish an article that discusses automatic ticket routing based on the ticket type. Ticket type would likely link to another article that outlines how to set up the different types within the system. Instead of forcing your customer to search for "ticket type," the information they need is right there.

3. Promote Your Self-Service Options

Just because you build a self-service portal doesn't mean customers will come. You have to let your customers know about the self-service options available, and promote them at every opportunity.

One way to increase customer awareness of self-help options is to avidly display links to resources on your support site. Be sure that your site is responsive for any device to make sure your entire customer base is included.

Pro-tip: Customer support software that supports ticket deflection (providing suggested articles to address an issue without creating a ticket) can also be a huge help in promoting customer self-service support.

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Ticket deflection example

It's a good idea to make use of existing channels to promote your self-service options. Remind callers who are on hold that they can access your resources online, include links in your outgoing support emails, and have support agents tell their customers while talking with them.

Finally, you may want to be more aggressive in directing self customer service by making online support the only option for help. Keep in mind however, that you always want to be available for one-on-one support in more complex situations. So, be sure to offer escalation options like chat, phone, or email.

4. Don't Ignore Self-Service

Just like a website or B2B customer support software, self-service is not something you can just "set and forget." It takes ongoing effort, including monitoring usage and examining content for relevancy and recency.

For software support especially, make sure articles are up to date with current versions and revisions. It's a good idea to include the date on support pages so customers know whether the information they are reading is still applicable.

In the end, providing useful customer self-service options for your ticketing system is about making your customers lives easier. Remember to provide information in a way that is easy for them to find and to offer ways to engage in one-on-one support should the customer need further assistance.