I had the best time in a grocery store when self-checkout was first introduced.
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was done with my weekly load of grocery shopping, and I could already imagine the checkout line.
I get there; it’s terrible. I’m waiting in the line, and I hear a woman go, “do you take coupons?” I instantly regret ever coming to the store. Then I hear an announcement:
“Self-checkout now open.”
Two checkout counters from where I am standing stand humanity’s best creation, ready for me to use it. I self-check out an entire cart of groceries in 5 minutes and leave the store victorious.
But you know how self-checkout sometimes tells you to “wait for the attendant”?
That’s where self-service customer service fails.
The whole point is gone; human intervention is needed. You wait there, clueless. It’s not only that you can’t serve yourself, but you also need self-service support.
So today, in an attempt to explain why this one lousy experience weighs heavier than countless other seamless experiences a product can offer, let’s talk about:
- What customer self-service is,
- Why customer self-service matters,
- Some great examples of self-service customer service experiences, and
- How you can create a customer self-service from scratch
Please, help yourself to it.
What is a Self-Service Customer Service?
Customer self-service or self-service customer service is a newly-appreciated approach to serving customers and providing support for customer issues before, during, and after product adoption. In a self-service customer experience, customers get to access a self-service portal like a help center, knowledge base, or a chatbot that provides support to them without the need to talk to customer service representatives.
So, in the end, customers have an excellent customer service experience, and the customer service teams get to focus on more complicated problems.
An absolute win-win.
But hey, let me read your mind for a second. You might be thinking, “why would customers want to serve themselves when there are people who work to serve them?”
Or maybe something like “what complicated problems are there that keep customer service reps from customer support?”
Well, let me explain.
Why is Customer Self-Service important?
It has a very simple reason: we don’t want to be forced to talk to another person.
And people, here me out. It is normal.
Oh, to have the confidence and practicality of a baby boomer. But we, the millennials and even Gen Z, joining the workforce every day, just don’t have it. The best part is, we don’t need to have it.
Having to go through another person and deal with human interactions when you can look it up yourself sounds laborious.
Don’t think that’s what the majority of customers feel like? Check out these stats.
- 67% of customers prefer self-service over speaking to a company representative.
- 89% of US consumers expect companies to have an online self-service support portal.
- 86% of B2B executives prefer self-service when reordering over dealing with a salesperson.
But why? Why the switch to self-service? What changed? What needs to be changed?
Three reasons why self-serve is the star of the show now:
1- It is scalable
Let’s say you are a small business or a startup, even. You have a small customer support team, but hey, so is your customer base anyway. It’s all nice and intimate, your team offers fast, top-notch support, and you have happy customers.
How long can you keep it up exactly?
SaaS people know one thing better than everyone: growth means change, change means growth.
If you want to stay in the race, you need to learn how to change, and as change comes, the only thing you can do is growing bigger with it. The answer is not for long.
Eventually, either your customer support is gonna get sloppy, or your response times will be in every 12 hours.
Self-serve, on the other hand, is a very easily scalable option. All it takes is a customer self-service portal, after all. And remember, your customers prefer a self-service portal over human interaction anyway.
Customer satisfaction is one low-hanging fruit with this one.
2- It is time and cost-efficient
It takes a seasoned customer service rep to tell you how many hours it can take to solve a single service request and how many years it takes away from their lives to make customers happy.
I can’t even tell you the money gone to waste every year for unused customer service software, customer compensation, and fixing customer service issues.
How do you get time and cost-efficient?
Get that self-serve customer portal.
You don’t have to tell them that you care; you have to show them. And the best way to do that is to answer their needs the way they want it. While also saving time and money.
3- It offers a better user experience
When I tell you that customers prefer self-service to talking to support reps, we get two things straight:
One, the “human touch” might just be overrated, and two, if customers have to talk to a representative to get support, they probably think it sucks.
I’m talking about a bad customer experience.
You know what is a good customer experience though? That’s right, self-service.
Imagine having to talk to someone just for a password reset. I forget my passwords every other week, and often I am in a hurry. It would be a terrible experience, hands down.
Now that we are on the same page about self-service being a better support form than traditional customer service is let me show you some good examples of well-prepared customer self-service portals.
3 Examples of Great Self-Service Customer Service Experiences
We know all about the reasons why self-service is good. But what is it in practice exactly?
Let’s take a look.
1- Apple Inc.
Apple is known for its immaculate customer service as it is. I still talk about the two times they gave me a new iPhone because of a minor problem. They might be overpriced, but at least you know you are getting good support.
But what about when the damage is not worth taking your device to repair?
Then it is on to the Apple support website to help you find a solution for yourself. Or, of course, talk to a customer support rep if need be.
Now, look at this.
When you get on the Apple support page, the first things you see are the devices/services you can receive help for, which makes it a lot easier to navigate.
When you click on the device you need help with, you are directed to its own support page where you can see the most common queries at the top, then how you can get started with the product, and other common problems you might be having.
This hierarchy is what makes the Apple customer experience so good.
When you know exactly where to look instinctively, it is that easy to solve a problem. And Apple makes great use of this fact.
I could not find one Spotify user out there who isn’t a Spotify fan. They know how to make that thing addictive with Spotify wrapped, personal mixes, and live sessions with your friends.
But the truth is, we all had a support problem over the years. It’s either a playlist disappearing, music randomly stopping or some other bizarre issue.
No worries, Spotify has a support page built just for that.
The UI design is perfect.
A big fat search bar so that you don’t have to look for anything by index, common queries down below, and specific categories for when you are an index fan.
But what put Spotify on the self-service top 3 for me is not just this. It’s the community.
Spotify has this cool “ask the community” option. Now, if you ask me, that is the most humble and brilliant option to put on your support page.
They know they might not be able to reach out to help you right away, but you know who can? Other Spotify users out there.
And you know you will find an answer because the community is that big.
Product flex? Check. Community flex? Check. Spotify for the win? Hell yeah.
3- Grove HR
You’ve seen Apple; you’ve seen Spotify. You’ve seen tons of other support pages. They are all cool, we know.
But I bet you have not seen something as cool as Grove HR’s resource center.
A tiny menu to the right on Grove HR’s website, this resource center lets customers access Grove HR’s knowledge base without ever leaving the website.
It shows them helpful external links, knowledge base articles, and something much much better.
Users can initiate interactive guides from the resource center.
Not only an in-app self-service portal but also an onboarding flow whenever and wherever users need it. That’s what I call top-notch customer self-service.
Read the full success story here.
Did you know you could do that in 5 minutes? Check out our resource center feature for free!
Now that you have seen the best examples of good customer self-service let’s talk about YOU. How are you gonna create a self-serve customer service flow?
Read on, fellas.
How to Create a Self-Serve Customer Service Experience From Scratch
Now, if we have learned one thing about self-service customer service today, that would be the fact that you have to give your customers the tools to help them help themselves for a smooth customer support experience.
But what if they didn’t need support at all?
1- Start with User Onboarding
This might come as a surprise to you, but a successful customer self-service experience starts with a great user onboarding experience. And preferably, an automated one.
Now see the point is, if your users are well-versed in using your product, they won’t need support. And even if they do, having gone through a no-human intervention automated onboarding experience will make them more confident in self-service.
So first things first, decide if you want to code your onboarding flow in-house or if you want to do it no-code in a matter of minutes.
If you picked the latter – good call, if I may add – I have just the thing for you 😎
Future of onboarding: Automated user experiences
If you are anything like me (Gen-Zer talking), you probably hate onboarding calls. You simply can’t handle human interaction, and you know what? That’s okay.
We’re in the middle of a tech revolution people, human interaction is more a burden than it is a “personal experience.”
And that’s exactly why UserGuiding is your onboarding solution.
With UserGuiding, you can use cool onboarding features like:
- Interactive guides,
- Full-fledged product tours,
- Onboarding checklists,
- Beacons & hotspots,
- NPS Surveys, and of course,
- Resource Centers
👉 Give the free trial a try NOW 👈
Of course, you can always go in-house with your onboarding flow but be warned, it’ll take days to come up with a fully capable onboarding experience if you don’t have a big developer team.
But hey, as long as you automate it, no need to worry!
2- Continue with Customer Support
The real crucial part of customer self-service is, of course, the customer support part.
If you weren’t born yesterday, you probably already know that a SaaS business is as good as its customer support is.
To make sure your customer support experience is self-serve, you have to come up with a fitting website design. For example:
- Make sure your support channels lead to self-serve – The most frustrating support experience is not being able to reach a rep when you want to. But reaching one way before you need one can be as annoying. Customers want to self-diagnose and solve their problems themselves first. It is up to you to give them the chance.
- Use FAQs when and where you can – An FAQ section can be a great relief for customers. They not only see that their problem might be common and solvable, but they also get to handle it quickly and without a support rep. Sprinkle a bit on your pricing page, as well as your general support hub.
- Build a community – Just like Spotify’s community, a community of your customer base is a great way of providing support. This is not only a great enabler of self-service but also an indication that your product is so good that it has a whole community of helping customers.
3- Perfect with Knowledge Bases
FAQs can get you so far.
While growing as a business, one thing you can’t overlook is the need for a help center.
Believe it or not, the addition of a knowledge base can get your customer self-service experience to new heights. It can not only be a self-service portal, but with some effort, it can turn into a whole support hub.
You can create your own website for a help center or use cool no-code tools to create your knowledge base we have listed here.
But hey, here’s the thing. Everyone can create a knowledge base. But not everyone has direct access to it within their website or on-app.
What about a resource center like this one right here? 👉
A knowledge base where your users can get self-service, learn via articles and video tutorials, and access the community, and a resource center where customers can access the knowledge base, interactive guides, and external links in-app. A match made in heaven.
And just like that, you have the best self-service customer service you can have in SaaS.
Let’ be honest, customer self-service does sound like something a company with bad support came up with.
But believe me, it has the potential to change your customer support experience for the better with a few simple arrangements. All it takes is the right mindset.
So if you’re ready to switch to something you can actually scale and save money with, let this article be your guide.
I guarantee you, it’ll be the best customer service decision you have ever made.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is self-service in customer relationships?
Self-service in customer service is enabling your users or customers to help themselves when in need of support. Studies show that self-service is actually more preferable to customer representative support.
What does customer self-service require?
Customer self-service is all about adjusting your mindset to enable your customers to help themselves. With some strategically placed FAQs and a knowledge base users can refer to when in need, you are all set.
What is self-service used for?
Self-service is used to create a better customer support experience. By utilizing a self-service approach, businesses can help customers help themselves, which is, surprisingly, what customers prefer.