The pandemic has made us all more comfortable with the online digital experience, with self-service capabilities becoming a key function and strategy of companies. Now, regardless of a shift back to pre-pandemic life, the convenience and flexibility of the self-service experience is here to stay. In fact, it’s a critical differentiator in today’s customer-driven marketplace.
Here are some not-to-be-ignored predictions:
By 2022, 85% of customer service interactions will start with self-service, up from 48% in 2019.
Customers and employees also expect some level of self-service:
90% of consumers now expect a brand or organization to offer a self-service customer support portal.
- Salesforce, State of the Connected Customer Report
Employees have also become a key self-service audience for growth-minded companies. Most are now accommodating changed employee work-life and workplace arrangements like shift-swaps, split-shifts, or hybrid home/office scenarios. Managers are especially stretched to keep up with the unique needs of each of their people, making it more important than ever for employees to have intuitive, 24/7, easy-to-navigate portal access to manage their work performance, benefits, and more.
No matter where you are on the customer or employee self-service adoption journey, stopping to strategize on an effective plan is vital. Even global enterprises struggle with missed self-service opportunities because of access to too much customer experience data, making it difficult to refine and prioritize their strategies effectively. Our CX Maturity Assessment is a helpful tool to identify gaps in your organization's overall customer experience transformation.
For self-service implementations, focusing on the specific areas of CX maturity illustrated in the graphic below will help evolve your organization into a more “powerful” experience provider for your customers.
Define a clear vision and strategy to help incorporate self-service delivery within the customer experience
Identify a prioritized set of experience and business metrics and report them to the right IT, channel, or content owners to monitor and address.
Optimize your content management systems, metadata tagging, search capabilities, and content relevance to support self-service delivery.
By 2023, organizations at advanced stages of digital transformation will find that poor customer experience is their biggest barrier to further success.
You may have internal tech experts helping you assess and build out your self-service functionality or you’re working with an outside vendor. The pause-analysis steps are the same. If the goal is for your customers and employees to quickly, easily find the online information they need, it’s wise to consider all the necessary pathways including an eventual human-to-human touchpoint if needed.
Keep in mind that the effort to bolster your self-service functionality, no matter your existing level of model maturity, doesn’t have to be an overwhelming or all-or-nothing prospect.
There are a million things you can track. It’s more about focusing on what’s most important to your customers—what’s the simple and fast thing you can help them accomplish—then focus your time and resources and execute against that narrowed priority.
— Trace Wallace, Experience Design Practice Director, Propeller
Prioritize what matters, and go from there
The ability to prove the impact of any self-service functionality you consider implementing (for customers and employees) is always going to be rooted in decreasing costs and increasing customer experience ratings. Because of that, it’s critical to design your self-service strategy with clear goals and definitions of success, developing a KPI backbone to track on an ongoing basis. While specific types of metrics will vary across industry and company, in general, leaders of customer support teams should consider a mix of business and experience metrics as well as lagging and leading indicators. And you’ll want to track these metrics over time and across channels, if applicable.
Nine metrics to get started
Depending on the tracking tools you have, some of these metrics are easier and some harder to answer. Or they may require investment to ensure your data is being captured, stored, and then reported on to take the required action steps. Helpful hint: Identifying these needs upfront can help avoid work after a self-service offering is implemented, so your data collection and governance structure is built in parallel with any technology implementation.
Key stakeholders at the table for this kind of metric gathering often include customer support, HR, IT, sales, and marketing leaders.
1. CONTACT VOLUME: How many customers are utilizing support channels?
2. SUPPORT TICKET TYPES: What types of issues are most common?
3. ABANDON/BOUNCE RATES: How often (and where) are customers getting stuck in the process?
4. SPEED-TO-RESOLUTION: How fast are agents or systems able to resolve customer issues?
5. COST PER CONTACT: How much does each contact cost to serve?
6. NEW / TOTAL CHANNEL USERS: What percentage of customers are using self-service?
7. CUSTOMER EFFORT SCORE: How easy is it for customers to resolve their issues?
8. RATINGS: How helpful or relevant is the knowledge base content?
9. CUSTOMER SATISFACTION: How happy are customers with the level of service?
Recognize that you're in good company
It’s easy to feel like every other company out there has amped up their self-service models and is going gangbusters, especially coming out of COVID. Not true. It’s a difficult thing to do well and it takes time and effort. In fact, creating effective self-service models—capable of growing profits and automating savings—requires a commitment to stick with it for the long haul.
If you’re really moving toward a self-service model, it’s not a one-time investment but an ongoing, iterative process that morphs and improves to the degree you are tracking your customer’s changing needs and self-service interactions. To that end, captured metrics play a fundamental role in guiding ongoing iteration. — Maura Koehler-Hanlon, Account Director, Propeller
Oftentimes, companies find that their best first step is an investment in clean or cleansed customer data. Start there while you map out a longer vision and strategy that includes key implementations and deliverables.
Summary: Elements of a successful self-service strategy
As you plan your customized self-service runway using key metrics to guide you, consider the following as best practices to help you prioritize what’s most important to fix first—and why.
- Use self-service metrics to DRIVE CHANGES, identifying moments of friction and opportunities for improvement in the customer journey
- Keep the customer at the center of self-service design by focusing on EFFORTLESS EXPERIENCE rather than customer delight
- Align internal resources and tools to PRIORITIZE CONTENT MANAGEMENT
- The transition to self-service TAKES TIME; customers will not necessarily volunteer to go to self-service channels and agents need to be brought along the change journey
Up Next: "Creating a Memorable Customer Experience"
Stay tuned for part two of this blog series where we’ll share what it takes to create the kind of memorable customer self-service experience customers are looking for today. An experience that builds customer trust, loyalty, and noteworthy bottom-line impact. Explore Propeller's Experience Design Practice to learn more about the keys to creating meaningful experiences.
As a quilter, Maura Koehler-Hanlon has come to love the arc of creation. In many ways, piecing together a quilt is a process that mirrors project work: She starts with an idea and set of requirements, sketches out plans, finalizes a design, sews the first square, adjusts as needed, learns from the inevitable mis-stiches, builds and finishes. The process marries creativity with planning, and it never fails to surprise her along the way.
Quilting is just one way Maura seeks to make order out of chaos — she also thrives on solving tough problems and simplifying processes. She also recognizes that the best solutions can’t be achieved without leveraging the strengths of the people you are working with. Before joining Propeller, she led community initiatives at Umpqua Bank and served as vice president of client services at VolunteerMatch, where she helped more than 150 corporations develop and strengthen their volunteering programs through technology. Maura holds a bachelor’s degree in international studies from Macalaster College.
For Trace Wallace, there are many routes to the top, and it often takes a single breakthrough to make a leap forward in the project. An avid outdoorsman, he applies this philosophy whether leading a complex project or completing his next rock climbing adventure. Being present in the process allows him to learn, build trust and inspire teams to explore new pathways.
Trace approaches each project as a designer, helping clients leverage the power of Agile, behavioral psychology, and design thinking to build better, smarter, simpler user experiences. His background includes roles at Teach for America and for Deloitte, where he worked on business transformation for a cybersecurity implementation. Trace holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Occidental College and a master’s degree in urban education, educational policy and administration from Loyola Marymount University.