A self-service portal is hosted on a website and is designed to enable customers to complete a number of tasks themselves; rather than reach out to a contact center. The tasks in question can range from the simple – resetting a password, checking order status or updating personal information; to the more complex like learning how to use a product or service, logging an issue or reaching out to other customers for advice and guidance.
The popularity and capabilities of self-service portals is growing because of customer demand. Whenever possible, customers now look to solve their own problems – they see calling the contact center as a last resort or an action reserved for the most critical of issues.
A comprehensive self-service portal will contain a list of frequently asked questions; a knowledge base of articles, tutorials and videos for providing help and guidance with products and services; a community forum for customers to post queries and share their advice and opinions; a secure password-protected area for customers to log in and manage their account information; and the ability to speak with the contact center, either via web chat or a web-based form. Leading companies are further adding to this functionality with chatbots that are programed and trained to answer the most common customer requests and resolve the most common issues.
A self-service portal can reduce the amount of traffic to a company’s contact center. This in turn gives agents more freedom and latitude to focus their skills on issues that require empathy, emotional intelligence and creating a human connection. But rather than being seen as a means of saving costs, a self-service portal should be viewed as a way of improving customer experience. If it is easy to navigate, has a good user interface and is constantly updated, it becomes a valuable tool for empowering your customers to help themselves at the moment when they need assistance, rather than having to wait until business hours and speak with a customer service representative.