Insights|How to Increase Self-Service Success Rates

How to Increase Self-Service Success Rates

How can companies achieve self-service success? The answer lies in usability: a good user experience, powered by effective content, designed mobile-first.

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by Sitel staff June 27, 2022 - 5 MIN READ

In this blog, you will learn that:

• Customers want to help themselves, but most are unable to: almost 70% of customers attempt to self-serve before reaching out to an agent.
• Customers call out complexity as one of the main barriers to self-service support.
• The key to successful self-service lies in usability: creating a good user experience.
• Usability in the context of self-service is made up of effective and responsive support content, designed mobile-first. This blog explores how to achieve it.

Liz shakes her head furiously. The high costs on her invoice don’t add up. She wants clarification – now! She browses the company website from her phone but can’t find what she’s looking for. The page runs slowly as she’s met with a riot of text, none of which answers her question. She starts navigating through a chaotic FAQ page. Ten minutes later, with growing frustration, Liz gives up. “I guess I have to call them.”

And just like that, another avoidable call enters your contact center.

Most customers look to solve their issues online, but evidence shows that very few succeed. A Gartner study found that only one in 10 customers manage to solve their queries via self-service. Yet, almost 70% of customers try to self-serve before contacting an agent.

If customers could solve their issues at the first attempt, brands would reap impactful benefits, including improved customer satisfaction, reduced agent work and cost reduction.

So, it’s clear that getting self-service right is worthwhile. But how can companies achieve this? In our experience, the key to success lies in usability: creating a good user experience, made up of effective and responsive support content, designed mobile-first.

Read on to discover five practical steps to rapidly improve self-service success rates.

But First: Let’s Define Usability and Its Link to Self-Service 

When we talk about usability in this context, we refer to the ease of use of a website or a product. Ultimately, it speaks to how easily customers can resolve their issues, without the support of an agent. Optimizing usability means making your website — and self-service content — more user-friendly.

To achieve good usability, a few essentials take center stage: page speed and mobile responsiveness, page navigation, content clarity, and relevance. Let’s break down how to address these, practically.

1. Improve Page Speed to Prevent Abandonment

A recent study reports that, above all, customers point to quick resolutions as the most essential element of a good customer experience (CX). Yet, in today’s fast-paced, mobile-first landscape, many mobile pages are lagging.

Today, 53% of consumers will abandon a page if it takes longer than three seconds to load. How quickly your page can load and stabilize on mobile will influence your search rankings.

Clearly, slow loading time is a legitimate roadblock to self-service success. Therefore, optimizing your page speed is a good starting point for improving the end-user experience. This checklist from Google is helpful for initial improvements.

2. Design Support Content Mobile-First 

Globally, most users browse websites on mobile devices. Mobile responsiveness is, thus, a key to self-service success. And so, testing the mobile experience you deliver is a necessary exercise in understanding why customers might leave your page. In addition, it helps you understand the pain points they might experience in the customer support journey.

Tools like Google’s Test My Site app can be helpful in this process. But you can also do a self-service site check on your smartphone: start by visiting your support site on your mobile phone. Assess how functional it is. Is the look and feel consistent throughout the page? Are paragraphs and topics short and concise? How long does it take to load? A good self-service page must be easy to read — and use — on all devices.

3. Ensure Simple Navigation

When consumers were asked in a survey to name the most useful website feature, more than 90% of respondents called out easy navigation. Ease of navigation is essential to a good user experience, an essential feature to keep customers on board the self-service journey from start to completion.

Assess how customers get from A (an overview of your support options) to B (an effective support article). Consider the time to resolution. How straightforward is the on-site journey? The goal should be to make sure every click matters. And that users feel confident with as little time and effort as possible.

Following a few UX best practices can bring balance to your page, and navigation. For instance, an overwhelming drop-down menu can seem chaotic to the user. Practice simplicity. It is a miscomprehension that users hate scrolling; clutter is their biggest enemy. Therefore, resist putting too much information on one screen. Instead, focus on the most significant customer pain points first, and work from there. Incorporating visuals, like icons, can also aid a more intuitive navigation experience.

4. Promote Clarity and Guidance

If your support page is clear from the onset, the self-service journey becomes a simpler endeavor. But, over 20% of customers call out ‘complexity’ as a limitation to self-service completion, indicating this is an area brands can improve upon.

One way to help promote clarity is breaking down walls of text into logically categorized sections. This allows self-servers to skim for solutions instead of getting lost in long, complex explanations.

Transforming static FAQs into personalized and interactive steps is another way to reduce complexity. By guiding customers and prompting them towards a solution, step by step, you can pivot self-service abandonment to self-service completion.

5. Carefully Consider Your Self-Service Formats

A one-size-fits-all approach to the self-service formats you provide will not suffice in a world where personalization is becoming an expectation.

Carefully consider your options, and what makes the most sense for your customers. For instance, in certain situations, videos can be helpful. They are visually appealing and easier to digest than a PDF. But they have their limitations, too. They are often generic and linear. Trying to cover all support scenarios in a single video can degrade the individual relevance to users. Additionally, videos can be costly and tricky to edit when product updates occur. 

Interactive self-service tutorials, however, can enable users to follow a detailed set of instructions at their own pace, and they are far more cost-effective in the long run. Step-by-step instructions can help deliver effective and timely support across all digital channels, driving a more engaging, personalized and positive self-service experience.

Providing effective support is about understanding your customers well enough to know what kind of support they need at every point in the self-service journey.

6. Fine-Tune Your Knowledge Base to Deliver Relevant Answers 

For customers looking for support, less is more. If a page search function yields hundreds of (irrelevant) results to a single query, customers will likely abandon the self-service journey — especially when calling seems easier!

Therefore, it’s important to ensure your digital knowledge base delivers the right solution at the right time. A fine-tuned knowledge base should provide relevant information to agents and customers alike. Intelligent search, powered by machine learning or AI, can supercharge your knowledge base’s capabilities, and deliver better, more accurate results over time.

Self-service expectations have increased in recent years. The good news is, customers have made what they want abundantly clear. Our job is to listen and respond accordingly. With a targeted self-service content strategy, an effective maintenance plan, and a streamlined user journey in place, you can transform customers seeking support into brand advocates. And you can turn lackluster self-service rates around.

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