We all know that customers lose trust if your customer service is not up to scratch. The increasing number of customers that switch brands due to insufficient or poor customer service is not something new. According to customer retention statistics, 33% of US consumers abandon a business and switch to a competitor after just one instance of bad user experience.
There are multiple ways that customers experience poor customer service. For example, when they cannot easily find answers due to a lack of readily available information, or being on hold for too long waiting for support to answer the phone.
Businesses seeking solutions to prevent customer attrition must invest in self-service options to fulfil the growing demand for self-directed customer support. Luckily, Salesforce can support multiple self-service features including portals, chatbots with AI and knowledge bases.
In this article, we’ll explore the main types of self-service, the benefits that each can bring and how to improve your self-service take up by utilising Salesforce features.
What is Self-Service and Why Is It Important?
Self-service means offering customers and prospects the ability to resolve their issues and queries themselves. This includes offering them the tools and resources needed to troubleshoot, problem-solve, and escalate to a customer service representative when/if needed.
40% of customers acknowledge preferring to use self-service customer support. This is because self-service customer support is often more convenient, faster and flexible with respect to customers’ comfort time and resource availability.
Implementing a good customer self-service strategy not only increases customer satisfaction but also:
- Increases retention
- Improves site traffic
- Reduces bounce rate
- Decreases the volume of customer support tickets
- Lowers the cost of providing marketing and customer service
It’s not just customers that can benefit from self-service, it can also be beneficial for internal employees, granting them access to documentation such as internal policies.
What Are the Most Common Customer Self-Service Channels?
1. Static Website Pages
Most companies use static web page content as their primary self-service customer support channel. A study by Gartner research indicates that 44% of customers access your website first before accessing assisted-service channels. However, if the website is difficult to navigate for self-service capabilities, it can lead to poor customer engagement.
Therefore, companies relying solely on the outdated or limited static webpage, risk losing customers due to dissatisfying customer service experiences.
2. Knowledge Base
Centralized web-based databases are used for collecting, storing, and organizing information. This information can then be searched and retrieved by users such as internal employees or customers.
Knowledge bases are both human and machine-readable. Human-readable knowledge bases store and provide consumers with access to articles, files and documents which they can use to self-direct troubleshooting. The content can include:
- User manuals
- Comprehensive FAQ pages
- Peer-driven question/answer forum contributions
Machine-readable knowledge bases store data for machine-learning and automated systems. AI Chatbot self-service customer support channels are an example of this category. AI can act as the first line of support, answering typical questions and suggesting relevant articles.
3. AI/Automated Chabot
This is the fastest-growing self-service customer support channel. It will increase rapidly by seeing the use of technologies in human’s daily life.’
Although, this will not completely eliminate the need for human-based customer support. With Salesforce you can integrate chatbots to scale your customer service. It helps you reduce the time customers spend and get immediate feedback on some of their common questions. As a result, it helps you answer the common queries of your customers, and for other concerns, chatbots will assist the customer to contact the company representative. This will save ample amounts of time for your customer service team and will uplift the customer experience.
You could also customize your chatbot to use it in a variety of ways such as:
- Chatbots via smart speakers
- Chatbots for smart home devices
- Chatbots that function via chat and messaging platforms like SMS, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc.
Benefits of Chatbots include:
- Reducing customer waiting time
- Resolving support cases
- Handling efficient redirects for customer inquiries
- Reducing customer waiting time
- Providing agents with leads
4. Online Customer Communities
This self-service customer support community has the most potential to improve a businesses’ customer service. Online customer communities create a space for troubleshooting, problem-solving, and other product/service-related conversations. An online customer community can bring together various forms of self-service, including a Knowledge Base, AI, Chatbots, Live Chat and more.
There has been rapid growth in the participation in online customer communities. An online customer community can provide a portal for users to participate in forums, search previously asked/answered questions for immediate resolutions, as well as encourage other users to answer questions, thus reducing the need for customer service to support. Community generated content can also drive product upgrades, updates and innovation.
Tips to Improve Self-Service Take Up
1. Involve Advisors in Self-Service Design
Advisors know the audiences best. Period! They are the ones who are interacting with the audience for most of the time and are well-aware of what queries or hurdles a customer can face. Therefore, to increase the efficiency of your self-service results, you should include advisors in self-service software design.
2. Deliver Personalised Customer Service with Artificial Intelligence
AI powered Salesforce chat is adaptable and personalizable to give clients the predictions, recommendations and answers they require. Users can even interact using virtual chatbots through live messaging on your company’s website.
Salesforce has integrated its services across multiple platforms, like Messenger, WhatsApp, etc., in order to provide maximum customer convenience.
The Salesforce chatbots will simulate human conversation. It will prompt the user to ask their queries and will respond accordingly. Once the AI chatbot has identified a customer’s query and, if it has reached the limit of its ability to provide adequate support, then it will connect the customer to a live advisor. This advisor will already have access to all the contextual information between chatbot and customer.
3. Add a Knowledge Base
A knowledge base is a published collection of documentation that can include answers to frequently asked questions, troubleshooting actions, and how-to guides. Its purpose is to scale your self-service offering and make it easy for your customers to find solutions to their issues without needing to contact your support desk.
Your knowledge base can have different types of content, including:
- Frequently asked questions
- Introductory articles
- Step-by-step process guides
- Video demonstrations
- Glossaries and definition lists
To create a knowledge base, review frequently asked queries and create content accordingly. You can refer to this guide for building your knowledge base. Well written and planned content is critical; if your customers need to get in touch with you even after reading the articles, your knowledge base is not performing the way it should be.
A knowledge base should not be written once and fixed in stone, especially in the software world where information becomes outdated or incomplete rapidly. Over time, information becomes outdated or incomplete. So, as part of your self-service strategy, you need to continually assess the content on offer, ensure it is up to date and remove irrelevant content. It’s a good idea to assign resources to this ongoing task, whether a single team member or a team, who have the bandwidth to take ownership of reviewing and updating your content. To help you prioritize content to update or promote, you could add the ability for customers to add ratings to articles.
4. Create a Customer Community Forum
Create a customer community forum to empower customers to resolve requests on their own or with other community members, instead of needing a support agent. Using a community, you can enable your customers to help each other, ask questions, search previously answered questions and participate in discussions.
Salesforce Experience Cloud makes it easier for you to create community forums where your customers can participate in active discussions and help each other. However, you will likely need to moderate any forums to ensure the information is technically correct, relevant and appropriate. You can also manage feedback from customers based on ratings or upvotes so the most relevant answers appear at the top for more user engagement.
5. Get Feedback
You can collect feedback from customers to identify areas for improvement. You can conduct surveys via emails, short in app surveys, phone calls, or net promoter surveys. Ensure your surveys are short and to the point to encourage users to complete them.
Consider using the native Salesforce Surveys functionality. Salesforce Surveys allows surveys to be hosted on a simple community (Community Cloud), actually running as an app on your community, so there is nothing to add. If you want community users to access the survey without logging in, you have to allow guest users, and the guest user profile has to have access to the survey objects. There is a Survey lightning component that allows you to add the survey to any community page, allowing anyone with access to the page to take the survey.
Customer self-service is essential to help businesses achieve their goals and avoid customer churn due to poor customer service. The combined benefits of providing high-quality self-service customer support channels include improved brand reputation, increased customer loyalty and greater revenue growth.
Learn how you can connect, collaborate and engage with your customers effectively using SalesPort – Customer Portal.