How to Create an Effective Self-service Portal

Everybody associated with customer support must have surely heard that customers’ choice of support channel is increasingly turning out to be self-help or DIY. Ever wondered why?

The reasoning is pretty straightforward, it is the fastest medium with the lowest effort for getting queries resolved. Your customers do not have to wait in call queues or wait on support agents to get back to them with solutions. They can access help 24×7 which is also another main reason for self-service turning out to be the top support channel. As a matter of fact, 70% of customers prefer to use a company’s website to get answers to their questions rather than use phone or email according to Forrester. But here is the catch — over 55% of customers find web self-service portals difficult to use.

So, How Do You Know if Your Self-service Portal is Working?

The success of a self-service portal can be assessed in two ways.

#1 Customer Satisfaction

Is the information provided on your self-service portal as informative as what the customer would get if they called you up or chatted with a support agent? Are you anticipating all possible questions associated to the topic? Feedback on your support portal and forums can give you a good indication of the level of satisfaction of your customers.

#2 Ticket Deflection

Ticket deflection helps you understand the decrease in the number of tickets submitted to your support portal. By regularly updating your portal, you can see an increase in tickets deflected as repetitive questions are resolved by the knowledge base. Ticket deflection is also a direct indicator of the time saved by the agent and the customer as they don’t have to wait to hear back from you. Thus, it’s important to keep a healthy ratio of the tickets deflected to the tickets raised in the support portal and continuously try to raise the efficiency and value you derive out of the portal.

Why is it Important?

A high customer satisfaction and ticket deflection percentage for your support portal mean that your customers are able to utilize your support portal efficiently to solve their queries. This indicates that they are becoming more knowledgeable about your products or services and their experience with your brand is highly rated because query resolution requires minimum effort with no delay at all.

Your support agents can now spend more time working on complex problems rather than issues customers could have managed on their own. This saves the support team a lot of time, reduces call and ticket volume. In turn, it helps optimize your support costs and provides your customers a better support experience, thereby winning their loyalty.

Creating an Effective Self-service Portal

Let me take you through a few steps that can help you get the most out of your self-service portal.

Enable self-service for both web & mobile

With a large percentage of organizations depending on both apps and websites to support their businesses, it simply makes sense to provide a self-service option for customers on both mobile and web. Enable your customers to access support no matter where they are and whenever they want. This can enhance the support experience you provide to your customers.

Harness the power of a community

Develop and harness the power of community forums where your customers can collaborate with each other to solve their problems. Leading to increased product/service discussions, helping your customers to understand your product or service better. Potentially your community forums if managed in an effective way can turn into a repository of knowledge and a platform for regular engagement with your customers.

Track your visitors

Tracking the journey of customers through the support portal will help understand whether your self-service portal is effective enough or whether the customer still reaches out to you after reading your articles. This can help you fix gaps and fine-tune your support portal.

Bots helping agents

Using AI-powered tools to suggest relevant solutions to customers on your support portal can help deflect tickets and bring agents in only for the more important questions. You can also use the feedback from these tools to get an idea of topics or questions your portal was unable to answer. This helps you to streamline your portal and improve its performance.

Improve your self-service portal’s discoverability

Your customers will surely search for solutions related to your product or service on Google search. Hence it’s important that your support articles show up as top results for relevant searches. So, make sure that you add the right keywords and optimize meta tags, descriptions, titles before publishing you support articles.

Analyzing customer Feedback

Make sure that you have mechanisms to collect feedback from your self-service portal. You can incorporate a useful/not useful button at the end of articles. Allow your customers to like or dislike articles as well as track views to identify non-performing sections of your portal and improve them. Analyze the questions your customers are asking today and use it to create an FAQ section which is powerful. Also, take chat conversations on the website into consideration while you finalize your FAQ questions.

Once you have taken care of your self-service portal, you can start observing the support portal taking care of your customers. You will notice a direct impact on your ticket queues because of the deflected tickets and an improvement in the usage of your portal as more and more customers effectively utilize the portal to solve their queries.