customer self-service

Customer Self-Service: A Brief but Comprehensive Guide

Key points

  1. Customer self-service is essential for meeting modern consumer expectations, with 70% of customers utilizing self-service channels at some point during their problem resolution journey.
  2. Offering a customer self-service option, like a client portal, not only improves customer satisfaction but also reduces the workload for customer support teams, leading to better customer experiences and loyalty.
  3. Successful self-service requires accessible and easy-to-navigate options, such as AI-powered tools and regularly updated resources, which can also contribute to higher sales and long-term customer value.

Your customers don’t care how and where they get answers to their troubling questions, all they want is to access these answers fast without the hassle. And it’s up to you to satisfy this desire.

So, how about you create a customer self-service option like a client portal solution that is easily accessible? This way, all your customers find answers to their problems at their fingertips. And best of all, they don’t have to access external resources or wait for email responses from the customer service team. This improves customer experience and customer loyalty.

Gartner finds that 70% of customers are using self-service channels at some point in their resolution journey.

Making it easier for customers to find answers to their questions is beneficial for your business. As Gladly’s 2021 Customer Expectations Report shows, 73% of customers had to repeatedly explain their issue to customer service representatives across different channels. This leads to them getting frustrated because they can’t solve basic problems themselves.

In this article, I’ve compiled a list of customer self-service best practices for you to improve customer satisfaction. As a plus, you get introduced to the best customer self-service software. But before that, let’s delve into the definition.

What is customer self-service?

Customer self-service refers to service or tools which allow customers to solve their problems by themselves without the help of a support agent. Instead of asking customer service reps for help, customers can have a seamless customer experience just by accessing your self-service content.

Benefits of customer self-service

The goal of customer self-service is to reduce customer churn and reduce the workload of the support team.

Benefits of customer self-service

38% of Gen Z and millennial customers say they’re likely to give up on resolving a customer service issue if it can’t be resolved through self-service. This report indicates that customers prefer to solve issues and perform tasks independently.

Embracing customer self-service can, in so many ways, help your agency grow. Let’s take a look at the benefits of customer self-service.

Better customer experience

“A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” said Michael LeBoeuf, an American business author.

You want your customers to walk away, thinking: “Wow, I love doing business with them, and I want to tell others about the experience.” At the peak of an excellent customer self-service system is a satisfied customer who is ready to tell the world about your product.

Lower support

It’s not a secret that customers will often ask a lot of questions about how to navigate your product and solve issues they have.

Self-service promotes reduced support and less burden on your customer support team. Moreover, chances are that your agency has fewer resources or less employees.

A caveat:  Even though self-service answers the simpler questions, customers often need direct help from support agents for the more complex issues.

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Higher sales

Most potential customers are hanging out in the decision stage of the customer journey, and you want them to decide fast.

There are two essential factors that makes higher sales a possibility when implementing customer self-service:

  • Happier customers use word of mouth to refer new users and customers. 62% of customers will recommend a friend to a brand because of great service.

  • Your brand case studies and testimonials project great customer experience by your brand, and in turn, prospects are convinced to buy from you.

For example, your customer success team can collaborate with the content marketing team to highlight valuable insights from different customer experiences. Compile these insights as a case study and distribute to convince prospects to buy from you.

Longer customer life value

Customer lifetime value is a measurement of how valuable a customer is to your company. It is an important metric to track in customer experience.

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The aforementioned Gladly report shows that 82% of customers will spend more money on a brand that delivers great service online.

There are two key areas of customer life value:

  • Historic customer lifetime value (how much each existing customer has already spent with your brand).

  • Predictive customer lifetime value (how much customers could spend with your brand). Both measurements of customer lifetime value are useful for tracking business success.

Customer self-service best practices

Implementing self-service in your customer experience pipeline is not all rosy. There are key failure points to identify:

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With these possible failure points, your customer success teams need to be equipped with the best practices to thrive.

Simplify site navigation for easy access to self-service

Make it easy for customers to identify your portal solution without hassle. The service section of the website should be noticeable right from the homepage and not hidden or embedded in other tabs.

For example, some FAQs pages on websites are hidden in the footer section. Let’s say you interlink to a resource in your knowledge base for each FAQ. This way, your customers can know the next step to take.

Observe the top customer search terms. Ask your customers what they’d usually search for when trying to navigate through your product or service.

Google SERP how to use service provider pro

Compile these questions and collaborate with your SEO team to create a strategy for minimizing customers’ direct entry to assisted-service channels. And focus on promoting self-service resources on search engine results pages.

Harness the power of AI

“Organizations are understandably excited about the potential of AI, but as they incorporate it into their business, they must take customers’ concerns into account,” said Moira Dorsey, Principal XM Catalyst, Qualtrics XM Institute.

Done well, AI-powered services will give customers a fast way to get what they need through self-service solutions. For example, you can use an AI-powered chatbot to answer FAQs by customers.

Always refresh your content

I find it frustrating when I visit SaaS websites and find that their self-service resources are backdated. Even worse, these resources have little to no information about the service’s new features. Always update your content to increase the value of customer self-service. And think about having a changelog that your customers can subscribe to via email.

3 best customer self-service examples

You now know what customer self-service is all about. Now, let me share some inspiring customer self-service portal examples that I spotted in the wild.

1. SPP has a knowledge base

Service Provider Pro knowledge base

The knowledge base is a compilation of key steps it takes to set up a service, create an order form, and place a (completely free) test order to see how the tool flows.

Screenshots make it easier to follow the quick start guide. As a plus, there are links at the bottom that show customers the next steps to take during the account setup.

2. Qualtrics offers a community forum

Qualtrics offers a community forum

Aside from Qualtrics’ educative support articles and videos. They also created a community of users to share tips and answer questions in the forum. They also host special regular meetups like “Getting started Mondays” and “2 minutes tips”—a weekly video series answering FAQs & providing tips.

3. PreFrame Productions has an FAQ page

PreFrame Productions has an FAQ page

PreFrame Productions has a relevant FAQ page for self-service users and potential customers with answers. It’s a great way of answering questions leads repeatedly ask. It also increases the conversion rate if leads easily find answers to questions that prevent them from buying a service.

Types of service client portals

Self-service client portal: SPP

implement knowledge base or FAQ

SPP’s agency client management portal is a great solution to manage all the data related to your customers. They get an account to log into the self-service client portal, can access data such as invoices and onboarding forms, and manage recurring subscriptions.

Related

SPP simplifies agency workflows by integrating project management and collaboration tools, ensuring team organization and client communication, even for small businesses. As a plus, it’s a secured cloud storage client management portal —so, you never have to worry about third parties having access to your data.

SPP allows me to keep everything from payments, orders, client communication, order forms, tasks, etc all in a single place. It's the solid foundation I need to be able to SCALE.

I also want to give a huge shout out to the team. They are now an extension of my in-house team. Basically anytime I run into a wall, or need some code tweaked - they are ON it. So between the platform and the support - it's 10/10 and the foundation I need to scale.

Joe Hader, Founder
Preframe.co
Joe Hader

FAQ pages

An FAQ page is a collection of frequently asked questions by your customers with answers. It helps improve customer user experience because customers get their answers with a click.

Here’s what a FAQ page looks like:

WhatsApp Business FAQ page

Knowledge bases

A knowledge base is a self-serve online library of information about a product, service, department, or topic. It is a powerful document repository that contains relevant guides about your product or service.

Here’s what a knowledge base looks like:

Confluence knowledge base

Subscription management

No one wants customer acquisition to be a struggle. With self-service subscription management, you can provide your customers with a convenient way to renew subscriptions and payments.

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In SPP, you can allow your clients to easily self-service their subscription, meaning: they can cancel it, downgrade, or upgrade to a higher-priced plan.

Educational portal

An educational portal is a more fleshed out knowledge base. It usually includes lengthy tutorials and videos.

Public forum/community

Communities can power key stages of the customer journey. Good examples are Reddit for forums and Slack communities for SaaS brands. In these hubs, you get answers from people who have experience using a product or service. Make sure to build a community of past and current customers.

6 Best customer self-service software

SPP (client portal software)

SPP Client Onboarding Page

SPP is client portal software that brings your clients, payments, and projects under one roof. Whether you have an SEO agency, link building agency, design agency, or content agency, SPP is designed to scale your business and keep everything in sync.

Whenever a new client places an order, a client account is automatically registered with SPP. When the client logs in, they can access their account to view order updates, invoices, documents, and more from a central dashboard. They can also message you directly through the portal—so, no more switching back and forth between email and your portal.

SPP logo
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Thanks to SPP’s powerful template editor, you can build detailed custom pages educating your customers about every service you offer. This allows them to stay within the same interface without having to navigate to your website. And with an onboarding page, you can teach them how to use the client portal software, eliminating the need for lengthy calls.

Stripe (subscription management)

Stripe logo
Stripe
Collect payments for your services.
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Stripe’s self-serve subscription management portal is a web-based platform that allows customers to manage their subscription services, without assistance from a customer support representative.

Wix Answers (FAQ)

Wix Answers is an enterprise-level customer support platform designed to consolidate tickets, emails, phone calls, and messages into a single hub, making for a seamless service experience for customers. Some primary features include: 360-degree timeline view of customer complaints.

Knowledge Owl (knowledge base)

Knowledge Owl is a cloud-based knowledge management solution that helps you build a knowledge base for your customers. It has a glossary, an embedded widget for giving context to readers, and full branding control that allows you to customize the knowledge base.

Slack (community management)

Slack for community management

Slack is a messaging app for business that connects people to the information that they need. With Slack, you can build a valuable community that serves new customers who need help.

Moodle LMS (course management software)

Moodle LMS is a learning management system that helps you create engaging eLearning experiences.

Conclusion

Blake Morgan, Queen of CX as often called by Meta once said: “What matters most to modern customers? Convenience and efficiency.” This much is clear. You have to focus on delivering exceptional customer experiences by offering them convenience and ease of getting solutions.

Embracing customer self-service can, in so many ways, help your business grow. But without the right software in place, building a customer self-service solution can become challenging to maintain.

In this case, using a software like SPP saves the day. SPP offers a branded client portal that makes you look professional and provides a unified customer experience.

This makes it easy to keep your team organized and on track, while still providing your clients with the information they need—even for small companies.

Avatar of Chris Willow
Founder of SPP
Chris started Service Provider Pro back in 2014 as a way to help automate a video production agency he was running at the time. Being early to productized services, he was frustrated with having to piecemeal different tools and services and ended up building an all-in-one client portal platform for himself and a few friends. That eventually took off and now Chris helps agency owners scale through software and systems.

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