1. Customers only use web self service as a last resort if they can’t find your phone number.
Actually, customers don’t want to call you. Behavior has shifted so that more people prefer to use self-service than calling an 800 number for support. According to Forrester Research, self-service usage has increased from 67% in 2012 to 76% in 2014, while phone usage remains flat at 73%.
2. Customers only use self-service while at their desktop.
Customers now spend more time shopping and using the internet on mobile devices than at their desktop. There is no quicker way to lose a sale, or an established customer, than to have a non-existent or poorly implemented mobile self-service experience.
An organization’s self-service strategy must start with the mobile experience rather than bolting it on as an afterthought. A mobile self-service portal should contain the same content available from a desktop, but be optimized for hand-held devices. For example, images and videos should automatically re-size to fit smaller screens and long lists of articles should be shortened by default with the ability for the customer to expand.
3. The design of your support portal doesn’t really matter.
Many companies obsess over the design of their marketing site, yet their web self-service portal is often nothing more than a jumble of text and links. Not only does a poorly designed self-service portal reduce the credibility of the content, but it also diminishes the customer’s ability to use the portal.
It’s important that a portal is a seamless extension of an organization’s brand with a header, footer, colors, and fonts that match the brand’s other web properties. Self-service portals should include rich imagery to complement the content and facilitate easy navigation. They should feature important information, trending topics, and other high value content on the home page. And their design should allow visitors to explore specific topics without having to do a search.
4. Once you’ve deployed a self-service portal you rarely need to make changes.
A common pitfall is assuming that your portal won’t need to be updated after it is created. In fact, the most successful companies are frequently updating their self-service portals to reflect new promotions, products, marketing campaigns and trending topics.
It’s imperative that non-technical business users can easily and quickly make updates to the portal without requiring assistance from developers or IT. Business stakeholders should not only be able to create, publish, promote and feature content, but they must be able to update the portal’s layout, configuration and design. By removing the burden on developers and IT to make updates, businesses can move much faster and ensure that their self-service strategy doesn’t fall into irrelevance.
5. A support portal is the only way to deliver web self-service.
It’s often preferable to provide an answer to a customer’s question in the context of their current task instead of requiring them to use a self-service portal. For example, if a customer has a question about your return policy while checking out, it’s a much better experience to provide this answer in the moment, without requiring them to navigate away from the checkout page.
Contextual content and self-service options that leverage the visitor’s behavior, history, and context to deliver the right answers — without requiring a customer to visit a support portal – result in a better experience and increased conversion rates. Having the ability to deliver contextual content outside of a portal is a critical part of a modern self-service strategy. Ensure that you are selecting a vendor that can offer best of breed contextual content in addition to web self service portals.