Creating Excellent Web Self-Service Experiences: Part 1

As consumers become more tech-savvy, they have higher expectations of web self-service. More than 70 percent of consumers say they actually prefer self-service as a starting point. While this can be good news for companies in terms of cost control — web self-service interactions usually cost less than their call center counterparts — it also puts pressure on companies to have more effective self-service solutions. Organizations should hold web self-service to the same standards of effectiveness and quality as their call centers if they want to reap the rewards of higher satisfaction and reduced costs.

Unfortunately, self-service experiences often fail to deliver. Some common complaints are that web self-service…

  • Feels more like an FAQ or keyword match that fails to understand the intent behind the question
  • Gives long lists of responses that the customer must sort through
  • Provides inaccurate, unreliable, or irrelevant answers

This multi-part series, “Creating Excellent Web Self-Service Experiences”, will provide insights to help you avoid the pitfalls listed above and develop truly excellent online self-service experiences for your customers. This first part of the series outlines three standards your web self-service needs to meet in order to be considered effective and beneficial.

Your web self-service solution needs to…

1. Provide clear and relevant answers

Does your existing web self-service offer clear, cohesive answers to customers’ questions, or is it a list of links that they need to sort through and figure out for themselves? The latter can lead to a great deal of customer frustration, possibly prompting an angry phone call, tweet, or Facebook post. Some customers may become so discouraged that they give up entirely. A Jupiter Research study found that, when customers are unable to find useful answers to their questions, there are major consequences for online conversion of new site visitors and retention of current customers.

The solution is a true knowledge management system, or KMS, that goes beyond mere keyword searches and FAQs. Instead of vague, generic, or irrelevant answers, a good KMS ensures customers get specific and useful answers to their questions. When that happens, it’s magic — better customer satisfaction, higher retention, and increased brand loyalty.

2. Go beyond the simple questions

The average web self-service solution is capable of answering straightforward, simple questions, but many struggle with complex or specific inquiries. When confronted with such a question, the knowledgeable humans on your service team are going to ask questions to uncover the true customer need and offer the best answer. That requires the ability to engage in a dialog, which most self-service platforms are simply not capable of doing.

However, self-service solutions that make use of “conversational agents” and natural language processing are able to actually engage customers in a conversation. Through dialog with the customer, they gain deeper understanding of the issue and can provide personalized, specific, and useful responses. When more customers get the resolutions they actually need, fewer issues need to be escalated to costlier channels, resulting in cost savings and happier customers.

3. Achieve high accuracy rates

Think of your self-service platform as your best-performing call center professional. Hold it to the same standards for relevancy and accuracy. Ask yourself, could your self-service solution perform at the same level as your best service employee?

A Gartner study on the subject put this notion to the test. Companies that expected a high level of accuracy from their web self-service were surprised to find that they were not able to do better than a 45 – 50 percent relevant response rate to initial questions! The cause of inaccuracies and inconsistencies? The fact that most solutions do not understand what customers really mean when they ask questions. Customers might even receive multiple conflicting responses to the same question, undermining their trust in your brand.

More sophisticated self-service technology uses natural language processing and the ability to dialog with customers to accurately diagnose and resolve issues with up to 99 percent accuracy. Consistently providing the right answer to every question increases customer satisfaction, builds trust, and reduces costs over time.

Read the next installment of this blog series to learn about the advantages of a self-service solution that is personalized, up-to-date, and able to handle complex, technical questions. Need more now? Download our white paper “Self-Service Effectiveness: Does Yours Measure Up?” for additional insights. 

Find out how Astute Solutions’ web self-service and KMS technology can help you reduce service costs and improve the customer experience.