The problem with your self-service approach

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the last couple of years, you’d know that there’s a new “It!” channel on the block, a channel that has finally dethroned social media from its lofty throne: self-service. Like most Disney princesses, self-service is beloved by all. Companies love it as do customers. Agents love it as do supervisors.

And for good reason — not only is a knowledge base low maintenance but it also reduces ticket volume and rakes in customer satisfaction. Community forums might need a little bit more work in terms of user engagement but once it gets going, the going kinda never stops.

Self-service might as well be the poster child for the times we live in because it caters to what we crave more than anything else: instant answers and minimal human contact.

So, it’s no wonder that the latest Forrester research has it that the use of help or FAQs on a company’s website increased from 67% in 2012 to 81% in 2015 among US online adults.

However, while I’d love nothing more than that to write odes to self-service, I’d like to talk about a common misconception that most businesses have, a misconception that I carried as well until recently: if you put up answers to a few FAQs and foster some discussions, you’ve won self-service.

The problem is that a lot of businesses assume that self-service means the customer has to do the heavy lifting for the answer instead of the agent i.e go to the help center/support portal/whatever your software provider chooses to call it and search for it themselves.

Answers when your customers need them, with no reach out methodology necessary, is the tip of the iceberg. It’s the bare minimum. If you really want to win the self-service game, you have to go one step beyond that: you have to take the “self” out of self-service.

True self-service is about making answers more accessible to customers. Maybe even agents.

When you’re stuck, trying to figure out how to solve a problem, the best thing that could ever happen to you (apart from a miraculous refresh fix)…is showing you how to solve it yourself in as easy a manner as possible.

A helpful little “Help” button does the trick most of the time.


Or a solution suggest even as you’re typing out your concern in the ticket form.


It can even be about making solutions more accessible to agents when they’re trying to solve problems.


Or something as small as linking related articles to a solution article so that you can navigate yourself.


The truth is, by placing more emphasis on “self” rather than “service”, your business is not going to suffer. Your customers are still going to find the answers to their problems and they’re still going to love you for it because they didn’t have to wait for it. But it’s focus on the “service” aspect of it more than the “self” part that gets you Hall of Fame credit and wins you everlasting love.

What kind of hacks do you employ to make sure your kbase articles are easily accessible to your customers? How have they affected your customer interactions? Let us know in the comments.