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How Can Self-Service Portals Reform the Support Industry in 2017?

Let me start this article with a simple question.

How many of you know what exactly are Self-Service Portals?

How well do you make use of Self-Service Portals?

If you are aware of them it’s a good start if not, no worries we are here to help you out!

For many answering the first, the question must not be difficult while for the second you must be having second thoughts in your mind.

Correct?

If that’s the case we can work and build the further structure and work on it, but what if it is not?

No worries like I did mention before, today let’s take this as an agenda and let’s first understand the basics and later uncover the business value your organization can reap from them.

As per the definition

A self-service portal is a Website that enables the users whether they are customers, employees, suppliers, or partners to perform high-value transactions, from simple account updates to paying bills, managing support tickets, and more.

Let me borrow few words by Jon Salgado director – IT service delivery, at Greystone about Self-Service Portals

Besides offering our end users a faster and more immediate way of getting their answers, the self-service portal has fantastically reduced the workload on the technicians.

Let me elaborate for you.

We all agree research indicates that today’s consumers prefer easy access to a company website that saves them time and creates a pleasant atmosphere.

Right?

So when fully integrated self-service portals for customer purchases are added in such customer friendly websites the need for detailed telephone conversations, requests for documentation and queries is removed this easily leads to easy access to users (customers) as well as reducing the workload of the team resulting in a win-win situation for both.

Let me introduce you to few other terms

Firstly ‘AI operated bots’

AI operated botsis a computer program which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. Such programs are often designed to convincingly simulate how a human would behave as a conversational partner.

The use of these bots are used in in dialog systems for various practical purposes including customer service or information acquisition.

What they do is, pull a reply with the most matching keywords, or the most similar wording pattern, from a database to answer the queries raised from the user end.

By now you must have understood that, AI stands for artificial intelligence. But let me tell you, the AI operated bots are the advanced version of the chatter-bots as they were limited in functionality. While the artificial intelligence bots, understands language, not just commands provided, and continuously gets smarter as it learns from conversations it has had with people.

Secondly ‘The Knowledge Base’

When it comes to customer satisfaction knowledge is the key.

Do you agree?

I have personally experienced; customers not only need fast & accurate information they demand it.

When I tried to check if what I fell is correct, I found that according to the Harvard Business Review:

  • 65% of customers want their problem resolved the first time
  • 62% of customers think that having knowledgeable employees is the third most important aspect needed for a company to provide good customer service.
  • 50% of consumers give a brand only one week to respond to a question before they stop doing business with them.

Integrate your knowledge base with the website autoresponder.

Use reports to update website top 10 FAQ

Integrate your knowledge base with the website

Add the data of the queries solved previously.

Both of the above-mentioned terms can be considered as types of Self-Service Portals.

I can share further examples how Self -Service Portals can empower your business, check out

For example, the Self-Service Portals provide your Clients greater control over purchasing, interactive access to the status of orders, tracking and return facilities without even having to try and get hold of the right person via email or phone. This empowers the Client and promotes your customer satisfaction.

LET ME SHARE SOME OF THE BENEFITS OF EMPLOYEE AND CUSTOMER SELF-SERVICE PORTALS:

Self Service Portals Reduces Customer Service Costs.

Have you ever wondered why are these portals named or called as ‘self-service’?

Simply because using these portals helps customers find answers to their problem on their own.

Many ask us how can self-service portals help in reducing the customer service costs, the answer is simple it’s cheaper to have customers help themselves than to pay someone else to do the same.

The high number of tickets issued lead to pain point experience with customer service because of waiting for a response from a support representative from any company. Unfortunately for fast-growing companies, the rise of customers means the rise of ticket volumes.

Hence companies must work on providing easy solutions rather than investing in large teams and agents.

With fewer calls and support tickets, agents and representatives fielding these inquiries can spend more time with each customer that doesn’t use their self-service portal. With more time allotted to each customer, it’s not just about increased productivity, but the ability to provide better care to each customer call or email.

Here is a very good example of increased agent efficiency which comes from one of our customer.

Before they added their support center, agents used to spend 80% of their day on the phone helping one customer at a time.

But after investing in self-service support, now the agents need to spend 20% of their time on the phone only with complicated cases and 80% of email leveraging articles from the knowledge base.

Self Service Portals Teach Customers New Skills.

When I say Self Service Portals help in teaching Clients or Customers new knowledge and skills, it’s about giving them the tools they need in order to solve their own problems in the future not just the same one but even similar issues in their coming future.

It’s important to remember that when delivering your answers to commonly-asked questions or hiccups faced by your customers, one must think beyond basic words.

Just like images receive more hits in social media marketing than text information same way how-to-do videos and step-by-step guides with diagrams and pictures are often much better ways of getting the information across since information conveying is easy visually rather than using words.

Particularly if it’s something customers might need to try a few times before getting it right.

Like for example use of simple step-by-step guides and how-to videos sometimes with images, diagrams, and screenshots.

Check this example out:

Students Printer - Step by Step Guide

The hints, tips, and best practices can also help your customers know your product inside out and get the best out of their purchase, even when things don’t go smoothly or even when they are taking the decision of going for it or not by getting to know company’s product inside out.

Self Service Portals Boosts Site Traffic.

When you have a well-functioning knowledge base that has been fully optimized for search engines how can it not be useful?

The information available online if is valuable and helpful will always attract traffic as well as marks a business as an information source and authority in its field or industry.

As a result, current or potential Clients place trust in the company, increasing the company’s credibility and brand visibility.

The stronger and more dedicated your portal is to address customers’ needs, the less will they feel the need to look elsewhere when they have a problem.

Having expert writers or bloggers on your website will also provide the boost in order to help you drive traffic and also help to take the pressure off your own front-line to deliver all the answers to the questions.

Other than the available data try and add testimonials from your current customer’s helps convey trust for your brand. As genuine testimonials, reviews and success stories provide the strength the credibility of you and your business and as you know, people will not do business with you if they don’t trust you and find you to be credible.

As no one likes a hard sell pushed on them, do you?

So if you cannot, how can you expect others to fall for it?

Provide what the audience and attracted traffic are looking for and you will make the home run!

Self Service Portals Leverage Personalized Information.

Who doesn’t love personalization?

We all do, don’t we?

So who will not love personalized self-service portals?

The personalized self-service portals keep a record of the products or services purchased and display the specific topics of expertise relevant to them provide your Clients with valued partner experience.

Personalization also ensures your Clients or Customers that the company is keen in learning about their problems and issues as well as customer’s experience on occasion, and takes the necessary steps to address their issues adequately.

Like for example when a user logs in the self-service portal the display of information on the previous point allows customers to keep the track of their previous areas of concerns, for the sake of helping them find what they need more quickly or revisit past problems. The easier it is to find the easier it becomes for them to use giving them that ‘wow’ moment they crave.

Also, when you make sure to make consideration of the information that you already know or that can be automatically retrieved to inform you about a given customer’s current situation and state of mind it also helps.

Personalized experiences build brand loyalty and can help companies achieve simplicity by avoiding the need to ask for customer information.

And the most important is understanding your Customers issues and based on it optimizing keeping the Customer feedback in mind improvisation as per your Client or Customers demands is of utmost importance.

What say? 

Self Service Portals Increase Positive Customer Recommendations.

Like I did mention before a successful as well as consistent self-service portal helps you build your brands.

The consistency and simplicity are the keys when building the portals for content and satisfied customers. These satisfied customers and Clients are your ambassadors who knowingly or unknowingly via word of mouth promote your brand and help to build it further.

The better are the self-service portals, the less likely it is that your customers will need to turn to costly phone lines for assistance, and the more positive their experience will be.

Self Service Portals Enrich Social Engagement.

How well is your Brand’s Social Engagement?

When it comes to social engagement, self-service portals provide a dedicated social media feed for dealing with customer queries.

Also, the social media feed including the knowledge & information shared from your brand will boost brand voice and its visibility; building stronger relationships with existing customers; while attracting new customers.

Today we all know as well as agree with the impact of social media when it comes to influence and attract new customers, I personally believe social media is the new word of mouth when even a small check in by your friend at a local restaurant will make you try out the place and if you like it you are the regulars.

Leverage the self-service portals to enrich social engagement.

It Can Create a Community

Few point above I mentioned good quality information attracts traffic, remember?

Similarly, if one introduces an open Q&A section or a forum into your self-service portal and you’ll welcome a whole host of valuable voices into your customer service front-line.

This information when in future or in coming times comes in contact with your potential customers or Clients helping them & encouraging them to be a part of the community by using your product or services.

Here is a Leading example

Create a Community

The warm and friendlier community of your employees as well as your Clients they more people want to be a part of it, as one is always interested in being a part of a community of like minded people.

Concluding:

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella famously said in March that “bots are the new apps,” and all of the big players like Facebook, Microsoft, and Slack have already entered the fray.

In the coming times Bots will be of particular importance to customer service.

It’s the automate processes like ordering, simple requests, and directing an inquiry to the correct type of agent. Which is the need of the hour.

Challenging economic times for businesses as well as individuals alike make it essential to implement and maintain cost effective strategies which go a long way towards a secure, stress-free and solution oriented customer service facility.

I believe Self-Service portals are one of them. They may need developments but improvisation and developments are a must from time to time.

What do you say?

Do you connect with us and see why a self-service portal is an essential component to any business that is serious about customer support?

Or if you are already using self-support portals. How well are you using them?

Share your experience, it will help others to take necessary steps for their business.

About Sushmita Thakare Jain Sushmita is founder of her ventures - EFR International & S.H.Traders-Fablook. She is a Biotechnologist by qualification but an Entrepreneur & Motivator by heart who loves to blog in order to share her heart out as well as to express herself. An Explorer & Wanderer who loves to read books and listen to music who is an occasional cook and an animal lover! For her motivation and persistence are the key to success! Sushmita's writing interests include sharing her experiences as well as stories with you all, about stuff like motivational, social engagement, personal development, empowerment, sometimes finance & about thought-provoking topics. You can follow her on Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram & beBee Also, you can check her posts on her Blog for EFR International & beBee

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