How to Make Self-Service Tools That Don’t Suck

October 13, 2022
Ellie Swanson

Customers want DIY support tools. Can your company deliver? 

Self-service customer support looks like an obvious win-win for both consumers and businesses. More than two-thirds of consumers prefer using self-service tools to speaking with support agents — and with DIY support costing about 1% as much as a live-agent interaction, effective self-service is a big win for businesses, too.

But there’s the rub: not all self-service options are effective. To put it bluntly, most self-service options suck. According to Gartner, 70% of consumers use self-service channels — but only 9% ultimately manage to solve their problems using self-service tools.

With higher-quality tools, it’s estimated that at least 40% of live support interactions could be resolved using self-service solutions. Even marginal improvements could yield significant bottom-line benefits: one equipment supplier calculates that by diverting just one in 12 customers to self-service tools, it could reduce operating costs by $10 million over an 18-month period.

How to do self-service right

What’s the solution? Clearly, current approaches aren’t working. It isn’t enough to simply toss a few hard-to-read PDFs online, or to fob customers off with crude chatbots that chiefly serve as gatekeepers to human support agents. 

What customers need is access to detailed, well-organized, and authoritative information. Ironically, that’s the exact same information that’s already available in companies’ product manuals — but as we all know, nobody reads paper manuals anymore. 

The trick lies in making that information discoverable, digestible, and engaging for today’s digital-first consumers. We can’t achieve that by simply replicating the dead-tree experience via digital channels. Instead, we need an end-to-end strategy that makes the self-service experience intuitive and frictionless, from the moment a customer first seeks help to the moment in which their problem is resolved.

Fortunately, with modern machine learning tools, it’s possible to quickly and cost-effectively turn existing documentation into dynamic web resources. With intuitive design and added extras such as how-to videos and interactive guides, it’s possible to build out digital support that genuinely engages customers.

Next, you need to make those resources easily accessible. Imagine, for instance, a customer who can’t figure out how to enable a feature on their new clothes dryer. Adding a simple QR code to the control panel empowers that user to pull out their smartphone and quickly access authoritative, user-friendly guidance, eliminating friction and helping them to get more from your product.

Finally, it’s important to close the loop: your customers’ self-served support experience is a rich source of product data for your team. Capture, analyze, and act upon that data, and you can fine-tune your digital support assets, recalibrate your product roadmap, and optimize the product experience across the entire user lifecycle.

Optimize for CX

The key is to aim not just for quick, low-cost customer interactions, but for a rich and engaging customer experience. That, more than anything, is the key to reducing churn, driving brand loyalty, and increasing forward revenue streams and return business. 

Customer success agents will always have a role to play. But by leveraging existing documentation to create effective self-service tools, you can empower customers to solve simple problems on their own, and free up your support agents to unlock new value and drive customer success.

At Conveyer, we’re building the tools that businesses need to turn existing documentation into dynamic and engaging self-service solutions. Get in touch, and start giving your customers the high-quality self-service support they crave.